The Best Used CD Stores in Toronto
In my youth I spent a lot of my savings on music, either going to concerts or buying cassette tapes, records and compact discs. After I discovered stores that sold used CDs I was hooked. Now there's maybe a dozen or so decent used CD stores left in Toronto. A lot of them also sell vinyl. A few still sell tapes and one even has a box of 8-tracks.
Sonic Boom leads the pack and outnumbers almost all the other stores by sheer volume, having swallowed up several Annex-area stores in its wake. But each store has its own charm, character and regular clientele, offering a little something different from the rest.
A couple that aren't highlighted below are also worth mentioning, notably Sonic Temple (5165 Yonge St.) near Mel Lastman Square in North York and Dixie Records in the Dixie Outlet Mall (1250 South Service Road) in Mississauga. But closer to the Toronto core, here are a good solid dozen Toronto used CD stores that are still thriving, er... surviving in this second-hand music market.
Sonic Boom (not to be confused with Sonic Temple and She Said Boom!) is a giant store located near The Bloor Cinema. Aside from their rows upon rows of used CDs and DVDs the store also offers in-store performances by local, indie and occasionally international musicians or bands, such as The Sadies, Sam Roberts and Aimee Mann. They're open from 10 a.m. to midnight 365 days a year. They buy and sell used CDs, DVDs, vinyl, video games, VHS and cassette tapes. Like many stores, they ask for government issued photo ID when buying your stuff. They'll buy just about any CD from you, although you may only get as little as a quarter. They get lots of stuff in daily. More »
Fifteen stairs up from street level, this small store is jam-packed with used CDs, and still a considerable amount of vinyl, a growing section of DVDs and even two shelves' worth of Blu-ray Discs. They'll buy your used CDs for $3 - $8 if they think they can sell them. Knowledgeable staff and usually some good tunes playing while you browse. I made many musical discoveries at this store over the years. Be sure to look out for some of the boxed sets and unusual finds on the wall behind the counter. More »
Previously known as CD Replay and before that Discovery Records (since '92) this little shop about the length of a TTC subway car has been around in its current incarnation for about seven years. This is of the few remaining stores in the strip of Yonge St. that sells used CDs. They also sell a fair amount of used DVDs and are starting to stock quite a few Blu-ray Discs now. The layout is pretty intuitive, with CDs well organized in bins that are just the right height for browsing. But on a busy day, it can be tricky navigating past your fellow shoppers in the narrow aisles. They'll pay you up to $7 a CD. When you buy, be sure to pick up their frequent buyer's card, which scores you a free CD (worth up to $12) after buying 10 used CDs (over $6.99). More »
No longer located on McCaul St. just north of Queen St. W., Penguin Music is now quietly tucked away around the corner on Queen inside the Black Market store. They're still a hotbed of musical discovery. You'll find lots of staff picks with detailed handwritten descriptions above many CDs that line the shelves. Store owner Kim Au-Yeung urged me to check out their website and I'm glad I did. They list updated staff picks, along with their Top 10 list and new releases. They also stock a handful of DVDs as well as new vinyl. They offer $3 - $5 for used CDs, which sell for an average of $6 - $10. More »
Your friendly neighbourhood record store in the Danforth and Broadview area, Mike's store used to be a Sam the Record Man franchise. You'll often find store proprietor Mike greet you with his long, white beard and friendly smile. This store has the most incredible lighting, most of them antique chandeliers. Since 2001 Mike runs a small antique store in the basement, open on weekends. The red-and-white checkered floor complements the lighting, making the browse for used CDs a pleasure. One of the chandeliers is a Casa Loma original (and sells for $5000). About half of the store is used CDs, with new CDs and DVDs for sale as well. They'll buy your used CDs for $1 - $6. They boast a wide selection of titles from B.B. King to King Crimson, King Sunny Ade to the Kings of Leon.
Serving the Kensington Market neighbourhood since 2000, Paradise Bound offers affordable used CDs along with a moderate dose of vinyl, DVDs and books. Greeted by the friendly and knowledgeable Coyote, I easily got a few recommendations of some great off-the-beaten-path music. He shared with me a quote from local musician, Rich Underhill. "CD sales have started to plunge, just as we've gotten the audio quality right with CDs." Thankfully, we've got places like Paradise Bound to help keep the music flowing. They'll buy your used CDs for 25 cents up to $4 and boast there's no single used CD in the store that costs more than $10 (tax included). They've got a MySpace page and their own blog, which features new arrivals and tips like how to clean a record. More »
Boasting four suburban locations and originating in 1995, Deja Vu Discs has stores in Scarborough and North York as well as Oshawa and Ajax. Visiting the Scarborough location, I was pretty impressed with their Look-up Station, where you can browse a catalogue of titles that spans inventory from all their stores, updated regularly. Boasting "GTA's largest selection of CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray discs and games," Deja Vu also allows you to browse their database from the comfort of your own home and pick up your order from the store in about a week. Check back often because combined, their stores purchase over 1,000 CDs a day and have a total inventory of over 60,000 CDs. They offer between $4 and $8 in trade for your used CDs. More »
Located on the busy strip of Queen St. W. near Bathurst, Neurotica buys, sells and trades used CDs, DVDs and all kinds of vinyl. They're also now dealing with Blu-ray Discs. They'll even transfer your old VHS tapes to DVD. The store's almost bursting with inventory, as the new arrivals section has CDs and DVDs stacked almost two feet high. They've got rather unusual categories for their used CDs, such as "exotica, instrumental and sleazy listening." Neurotica's currently on winter hours, which means 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily, and closed Tuesdays.
With two locations serving Toronto, She Said Boom offers not too large a selection of used CDs, but has a pretty decent amount of used books and vinyl. Admittedly, books are their most constant seller. But they'll still buy your used CDs for a buck or two and generally sell them for $5 to $10. Like most stores, they offer 20 percent more in trade. Initially two guys ran the store. They expanded and opened up a second shop on Roncesvalles, which is now run by the second partner. The College St. location has been around for 14 years. It's run by Randy Harnett, the book guy, who kept the CDs and records going. More »
The sole store in The Junction area that sells used CDs, Pandemonium also stocks a variety of books and vinyl. Almost forgotten in a box at the back of the store, I even found a cache of 8-track tapes. The store has been around since 2000 and is quite fun to poke around in. On the walls I spotted framed 12" vinyl albums of Prince and Elvis Costello, among others. Among the books, they had a three-volume first edition (1840) print of Dickens, which went for $250. And Parasites of Heaven, a first edition collection of Leonard Cohen's poetry. They'll offer you between $2 and $5 for your used CDs and generally sell their CDs for $6 to $10. Open Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. More »
Found in Baldwin Village, Around Again is located just north of the AGO. Predominantly dealing in quality used vinyl, the store will buy your used CDs for 50 cents up to $7. Most of their used CDs sell between $5 and $8. They've got only a handful of used DVDs. For the past five years they've offered to put your old 12" records into a frame for $18, making a timeless keepsake and ornamental alternative to keeping them in a milk crate. In the shop I spotted Lonesome Echo, an old Jackie Gleason album cover from 1955 painted by Salvador Dali. Time to dig out that old vinyl. Pity none of these shops offer a vinyl-to-CD copying service.
This mostly punk record store is somewhat an anomaly in the area of Bloor and Ossington. Pete Genest opened this store in May 2007 after relocating to Toronto from Portland, Oregon, where he had a store for the last five years. Prior to that he had a store in Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, BC. Genest opened his first record store in September 1992, starting with his own collection. That slowly grew and evolved to what the store is now, consisting of a large selection of new and used punk, hard-core, oi, ska, metal, rockabilly, crust and garage genres. Half a dozen local bands sell their cassette tapes for $3 to $6. While used CDs amount to only a fraction of the store's inventory, it's worth the trip to see the walls of collectables, including buttons, patches, stickers and t-shirts. If punk or metal is your thing, you seriously got to check this place out. More »