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Play De Record

Posted by Ryan Bolton / Posted on December 1, 2013

Play de RecordPlay De Record, if nothing else, has proven itself. Situated right beside Zanzibar Tavern on Yonge St., this long yet slim shop has endured the test of time and watched ample local record stores fall, including Sam the Record Man, which once stood tall just down the street.

Opened in 1990 by Eugene Tam, Play De Record used to be in the back of a convenience store in its current location. The front offered your typical variety store fare, but when you ambled into the back, it was a DJ's secret stash with a solid assortment of hard-to-find records. As the hip-hop and dance scene started to take off in the late '90s so did Play De Record, which slowly took over the full convenience store.

Play de RecordAnd from there, Play De Record has dipped heavily into turntable hardware, concert tickets, apparel and now a DJ school (Play De Academy) in the back. Part of proving themselves also includes doing it all.

Play de RecordThe secret to Play De Record's long-standing reign as a destination spot for seasoned DJs looking for new material or record collectors looking for that one-off, elusive record they could never quite find boils down to community. A community that involves Drake buying his first turntables at Play De Record and Deadmau5 often dropping by to add to his sample collection.

Play de Record"We want to be able to provide a place that isn't about the hottest tracks, not about the flashiest gear, it's about meeting people who are like-minded and into the music," explains store manager Ellis Iyomahan. "We are here to give people a sense of belonging, something that has always been here."

Play de RecordWalking through Play De Record today is a bit like going down a rabbit hole. In the front you have your typical just-released hit records (like Lorde, Arcade Fire and Daft Punk). To the right are your classic knock-off band t-shirts that pretty much are in every store along the Yonge strip. As you continue, they still have a decent CD collection that leads into the hardware section both upstairs and downstairs. You'll find new and refurbished turntables, including cleaned-up Technics SL-1200s, which are no longer in production. Most of the turntables are in the $100-$750 range. And then you hit the records which line the walls with the best of the best of vintage hip-hop, EDM, jazz, drum and bass, soul, reggae and funk.

Play de RecordIn the very back is the Academy. The Play De Record Academy was born out of people returning their turntables. It wasn't due to the equipment, but the lack of knowledge on how to properly use it. And now Play De Record is helping with the learning curve. It's a way of harvesting that community for anyone that is interested in DJing, producing or just wants to learn how to spin.

Play de RecordIt' part of the reason why Play De Record will be a mainstay for years to come.

Writing and photography by Ryan Bolton



EP / December 1, 2013 at 08:48 am
sweet Yeesuz bootleg
lol / December 1, 2013 at 12:45 pm
this place is a temple. one of the most amazing spaces in the city...If only those walls could talk
Adam Sobolak / December 1, 2013 at 01:22 pm
And rather poetically in terms of the present, the store it originally occupied the back of was "Ford Drugs"
Dan / December 1, 2013 at 04:49 pm
Didn't know they had Yeezus bootlegs here, does anyone know how much they're selling them for? Was just going to pick one up online.
Boothe / December 1, 2013 at 05:37 pm
Shout-out to Carnival Records, and Starsound.
Jamaal / December 1, 2013 at 11:27 pm
I remember the "convenience store" in the front... It was a thin corridor to the back and the walls were lined with hardcore porn videos.
Poopdawg / December 2, 2013 at 10:08 am
I love this place. I just wish they stocked local and Canadian hip-hop more though.
mike in parkdale / December 2, 2013 at 04:43 pm
I bought my first battle records there, back in the mid 90's. The place is legendary.
Jay / December 3, 2013 at 12:09 am
I remember going there to get NWA and 2 Live Crew cassettes back in the day before anywhere else was carrying them.
Jason replying to a comment from Dan / December 3, 2013 at 03:25 pm
Hi Dan.

We have them on sale for $22.99.

Jason at Play De Record
Dan / December 15, 2013 at 05:17 pm
Do You have a racord called Spinning Wheel by Ruby Miller. If not any records by her? Respond to
Alex / December 16, 2013 at 01:10 pm
Do you guys have Grand Funk Railroad's Phoenix vinyl in stock?
Steve AKA Syktripp / December 28, 2013 at 04:02 am
I will check when I get in tomorrow. Be sure to come in Dec 28th & Dec 29th for our final 2 days of boxing day deals. 20 % off vinyl, 25 % off T-Shirts, 10 % on DJ & Production Gear.
Helen / January 15, 2014 at 02:39 pm
Can you tell me if you sell plastic LP covers? And how may and for how much? Thanks a bunch!
r replying to a comment from Helen / March 20, 2014 at 09:53 am
yes theu sell plastic lp covers? just call them at 416-586-0380 for prices and quantities. r
David / April 26, 2014 at 11:31 am
More of a DJ dance, R&B sorta place. Can be fun but cant say i feel inclined to hang around to dig for discs on my stays, tho I am partial to some of this music. Turntable emphasis is a nice touch.
Pretty Boy / February 3, 2015 at 04:21 pm
Jason, glad to see that you're keeping the dream alive. I need to come in and spend some money for the cause. :) Buy local people, support a place that's supported your music scene for so many years. Respect.
Andrew / June 18, 2015 at 10:36 pm
Just want to know if you have vinyls under $2, just want to add some old 80's records in my collection.
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