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Best of Toronto

The Best Vinyl Record Stores in Toronto

Posted by Aubrey Jax / November 15, 2013

Vinyl TorontoThe best vinyl record stores in Toronto are a testament both to the resurgence of vinyl - with many of these stores carrying a wide selection of new releases and reissues as well as vintage vinyl stock - and to the vibrant music community in Toronto. Every spot on this list from The Junction to Leslieville is independently owned and operated. Many host in-store concerts, and while some also deal in books and music equipment, their hearts pump vinyl straight into the veins of both local music fans and tourists who often come to town with very a specific goal: to shop till they drop for the sounds they can't buy at home.

These are the best vinyl record stores in Toronto.

See also:

The best used CD shops in Toronto
The best live music venues in Toronto
The best musical instrument stores in Toronto

Grasshopper Records

Grasshopper Records

It will be no surprise to Toronto music fans that relatively new Grasshopper Records has jumped to the top of the list. Next door to The Garrison on Dundas, Grasshopper's love for the vinyl trade is clear from their well curated selection of everything from rap to indie and classic rock and beyond. Prices can reflect Grasshopper's knowledge and curation, but how can you put a price on love? You can also catch live bands playing in store from time to time. To quote owner Derek Madison, "I believe in music - it's like food and sex." Preach. More »

Sonic Boom

Sonic Boom

Sonic Boom's two awesome (legendary?) locations are close enough together that you can hit up the Annex location on Bathurst and then walk over to the smaller, newer, vinyl-focused Kensington shop to keep hunting. Sonic Boom is a staple of Toronto's music community, and many an in store concert has gone down in the Annex, from John K Sampson and Stephen Malkmus to Shad and MIA. You'll find everything from buzzy new releases to used LP's of every genre. The Annex location stills carries CDs, and both locations have decent cassette selections. More »

June Records

June Records

June Records is a new Toronto spot, but music fans have caught onto them in a big way. Ian Cheung (former Kops Records' manager) opened up this unpretentious Little Italy store, venue, and DIY art space in hopes of bringing more diversity to Toronto's record store scene, and their spot at number three speaks of their success (their notoriously friendly staff might have something to do with that too). New and used vinyl is at the forefront here, but you can also catch live in store performances and rent out the adjoining artspace for cheap. More »

Kops Records

Kops Records

Rarity hunters and collectors take note - family owned Kops just gave birth to a second location in The Annex, but they're still best know for their Queen Street location. Both Kops locations deal in meticulously organized 45s and LPS of pop rock, classic rock, soul, jazz, soundtracks, county, folk, and comedy, which they separate into new vinyl, reissues, and vintage ("nearly new"). With such strict curation in store their discount bin is worth a peek, too. Before you ask them a question about music history, you might want to find a comfy spot to sit down. More »

Rotate This

Rotate This

Rotate This on Queen St. is a holy land for Toronto's indie record collectors (and concert ticket buyers), and has been for longer than most have been stacking up vinyl - que the "in before it was cool" lines. It's still one of the best bets in the city to find mint rock, indie, and pop new releases and reissues on vinyl, but they also stock jazz and blues, world music, and punk. When kids come in from the burbs to buy vinyl this is one of the first places they know to hit up, but that's not to say you won't find grumpy older disc fiends perusing the stacks too. More »

Play De Record

Play De Record

Yonge Street is still hanging on to Play De Record. Play De deal in both vinyl and DJ, production, and lighting equipment (both to buy and to rent to) and are where Drake himself bought his first turntables (I guess Drake DJs?), and where deadmau5 released his first record. It's a must stop for any visiting DJ friends, not just for the geographical history lesson you can give them about the glory-days of Toronto record stores past, but for the unique selection of hip-hop and electronic music. Just be prepared to dig. More »

Vortex Records

Vortex Records

Another Yonge Street hold out, this Yonge & Eglinton shop has been in business since the 70s, and deals in used music and movies. It's a great spot to hide away for an afternoon hunting through their absolutely crammed collection of mint quality records from the likes of Iron Maiden, The Kinks, Rory Gallagher, Blondie, Kraftwerk, and etc, plus new releases like Arcade Fire. Prices for both buying and selling (and credit) are reasonable and staff are knowledgeable and friendly. They also still buy CDs, which is a rarity these days. More »

Around Again

Around Again

Around Again Records is situated a stone's throw from OCAD on Baldwin. The well organized indie shop deals in both vinyl and CDs, and offer some new and used audio equipment and accessories including turn tables and record cleaning machines (their vinyl stock is cleaned on site) and is a known gem for the city's bargain hunters and jazz collectors. Jazz, classical, and soul may be their specialty, but used and re-issued classic rock, pop, metal, and old school punk albums make their way into the bins too. More »

Soundscapes

Soundscapes

Soundscapes is a narrow storefront on College Street with a world of sweet sounds inside. While it's a go to for the hippest new vinyl and Toronto releases, they stock everything from indie rock to folk, jazz, world, blues, soul, electronic, hip-hop, metal, and even experimental and noise, plus they're a good place to find obscure local music including cassette releases from Toronto's DIY labels and underground bands. Staff are friendly and helpful, and you can grip tix for most hot ticket shows here. More »

Cosmos on Queen

Cosmos on Queen

Don't get confused or think you've entered some kind of roving used record store vortex - the two Cosmos locations are extremely close together. The original location just east of Bathurst focuses on soul, rare groove, vintage rock, old school hip hop, and disco, while the Cosmos West location - just west of Bathurst - specializes in jazz, Latin, Brazillian, psych, and disco. While the prices can be a little high there's no shipping cost to grab records in shop, Ebay heads, and you can find great quality discs here. They're always looking to buy records. More »

She Said Boom

She Said Boom

She Said Boom rocks (and nerds out) both on College Street and in Roncesvalles Village. For over ten years both locations have done the music store and the bookstore thing right - this isn't one of those spots that dabbles with a weak music biography shelf or bin of battered used vinyl. Genres run from indie and rock to jazz, and from electronica to roots and reggae. The stock in these vibrant stores has a high turn around rate so you'll want to pop by pretty regularly. It's also a great place to pick up local free music magazine "Offerings." More »

Pandemonium

Pandemonium

Both record store and book shop, Pandemonium is a treasure of the Junction. Owner Neill Cunningham recently moved a smidge west down Dundas to nicer, and larger, digs, but the well curated and organized stock still never runs dry. Vinyl stock really does cover everything genre-wise, staff are helpful, prices are remarkably affordable, and it's impossible to leave without buying anything - even if you thought your pockets were empty, you'll end up scrounging some coinage from the depths. More »

Discovery Records

Discovery Records

Discovery Records is a Leslieville spot to buy and sell used LPs and 45s, plus you can still grip everything from CD's to books and DVDs to reel to reel releases - yes, those giant cassette tape things. They specialize in rock (no new releases) but deal in all genres from jazz, blues, world, and R&B to spoken word and classical, plus their cassette selection is notable too. Turn over is good, so if you're in the east end stop by whenever you get a chance - or just check the complete inventory on their website. More »

Circus Books & Music

Circus Books & Music

This well organized Danforth shop is both a record and CD shop and bookstore, and you can sell wares here or trade in for credit. Vinyl selection is limited and runs all over the map but leans toward the standard finds, though if you pick through their records you're bound to cross a minor grail or two off your list. With east enders from the Danforth and Leslieville hitting it up regularly to both buy and sell the turn over rate means stock is always fresh. More »

Paradise Bound

Paradise Bound

While a Japanese art store might not scream "collectable vinyl" (or used books, CDs, and movies), that's what Paradise Bound of Kensington Market does, and they do it well. Record hunters can dig the eclectic vibe while browsing rock, pop, disco, jazz, soul, blues, reggae, electronic and, well, misc (from calypso to metal) LPs, 45s, and 7″s, and maybe walk out with a fine art woodblock print too. More »

Discussion

58 Comments

Chester / November 15, 2013 at 02:05 pm
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I had to buy tickets once at Rotate This. That place couldn't be a bigger hipster stereotype. I actually had to sarcastically tell the cashier guy that he looked really enthused about working.
E. Toby Coke replying to a comment from Chester / November 15, 2013 at 02:13 pm
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"... Rotate This. That place couldn't be a bigger hipster stereotype. I actually had to sarcastically tell the cashier guy that he looked really enthused about working."

The attitude is part of the Rotate offering, and has been since the 1990s. Accept it you must, before transcend it you can.
Cabin Fever / November 15, 2013 at 02:31 pm
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Cabin Fever on Bloor near Keele is good. I live around the corner, they're nice there, good records, and they're not on the list. Should be
The Sound It Resounds / November 15, 2013 at 02:40 pm
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Nice to see Grasshopper Records and Circus Books & Music on here. Both are fine stores and great people. The Sound It Resounds produced a couple of video features on Islands and Aroara talking about their favorite records at the above stores. You can check them out below if you wish.

Islands At Grasshopper Records
http://thesounditresounds.com/islands-nick-thorburn-curtis-mayfield/

Aroara at Circus Books & Music:
http://thesounditresounds.com/aroara-band-montreal-sly-family-stone/
tommy / November 15, 2013 at 03:06 pm
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Must we have this argument yet again?
lol / November 15, 2013 at 03:13 pm
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Yeah grasshopper records is great... other than the fact they are selling 1$ records from discogs for 20$

Play De Record puts all these places to shame, place is beyond legendary from old heads to new
roncesvaller / November 15, 2013 at 04:08 pm
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I personally think
June hits the nark. Good location, well curated and friendly enough staff for a record store.

As I recall the two She said Boom locations are not related (must be a story there) so you may want to clarify that with the stores.
dan taco / November 15, 2013 at 04:39 pm
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1 - Rotate
2 - Vortex
3 - Grasshopper

That's it - everything else is amateur
Brian Taylor / November 15, 2013 at 05:16 pm
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zzzzzzZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz..
mike in parkdale replying to a comment from dan taco / November 15, 2013 at 08:48 pm
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"That's it - everything else is amateur"

did you look at #6 on the list? The importance of Play De on this city can not be understated, unless you only care about guitar based rock.


tk / November 15, 2013 at 10:10 pm
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I've found great records at all of these places. Toronto has a wealth of record stores, with at least another 15 not on the list, and there really is something for everyone. Let's not fight, ok?
Jon / November 16, 2013 at 03:31 am
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funny how no one ever credits Sunrise Records, or the Used section on the 2nd floor. I guess they're not cool enough for the hipsters...great stuff up there.
Jon / November 16, 2013 at 03:32 am
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Funny how no one ever mentions Sunrise Records at Yonge and Dundas...second floor has tons of great used records, and plenty of new stuff downstairs.
Aaron / November 16, 2013 at 07:02 am
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...and when everyone has had a gander at these fine shops, and uber fine they are, try a record show. yeah that's right... I'm promoting my show. check therecordguys.com for the info.
EP / November 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm
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regardless of what anyone thinks about the attitude at Rotate, they do have the best selection, and the best prices. And at the end of the day, thats what counts.
EP / November 16, 2013 at 12:11 pm
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Also, Pandemonium used to be such a solid place. I went there a few weeks ago to find they had almost tripled their prices. too bad!
Hooper / November 16, 2013 at 09:13 pm
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I guess people like different record stores for different reasons, so can't really say what's the best. But yes I'd have to agree about Rotate This and Sonic Boom, great prices for great vinyl selection, kinda music I like anyway. Some new albums I've bought for as little as 12 bucks at Rotate can't beat that. One thing I do know, unless you're looking for a collector item record shows are useless, it's like paying to go into a record store where most of the stuff you've no interest in. Good shops in a Toronto though
Mike / November 17, 2013 at 10:16 am
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I'm sorry but this is madness. Grasshopper is among the worst record stores I've ever been in in my life. The records are in shit condition and the prices are outrageous. They charge $25 for Thriller for fuck's sake! Who in their right mind would vote for this shop?! Absolutely crazy.
Yeah for real / November 17, 2013 at 12:00 pm
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Yeah dude...having list of record stores in Toronto is sooooo absolutely crazy madness. Fark man, yawn
Karyn Pope / November 17, 2013 at 05:12 pm
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Next year Village Vinyl Music Emporium & Cafe needs to be added to the voting list. This gem in south Etobicoke's Lakeshore Village opened in August of 2012 and boasts a massive selection of quality used vinyl and CD's in excellent condition with the majority of the inventory priced below $10.00 housed in a great atmosphere.
Geats replying to a comment from Mike / November 18, 2013 at 10:14 am
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Seriously. 90% of Grasshopper's records are 50 cent bargain bin records in horrid condition with $30-50 price stickers. It's absolutely hilarious and borderline insulting to anyone that collects records.

Rotate, PlayDeRecord and June are the 3 "top tier" places in Toronto. Sonic Boom is great too but loses points because their prices are always $2-5 higher than everyone else. I like Kops but their selection is really weak.
Tim / November 18, 2013 at 12:16 pm
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NOTHING will ever compare to 2TheBeat.
Robert / November 18, 2013 at 01:24 pm
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Honestly, this list, in parts, seems to have been put together by someone who started buying "vinyls" ten minutes ago and uses a Crosley suitcase turntable to gouge their records with.

Record stores like Grasshopper whose bread and butter seems to be selling common records or records in dubious condition for anything over $10 to otherwise unknowing dupes should be excoriated rather than celebrated. Anyone who takes half a minute to check going rates on places like Discogs, is willing to search a few shops, or is in any way knowledgeable about record grading, pressing details, and country of origin would never shop at places like Grasshopper. (I don't mean to continue pointing the finger at Grasshopper, as there are plenty of other record stores in this city who are guilty of this stuff. It's only because they are ranked "the best" in this list.)

Shame.
Chris T.J. / November 19, 2013 at 04:50 pm
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GRASSHOPPER is the most passionate record collector and seller i've ever met. i'm stoked that he is up in first place. shows that even the mainstream is starting to appreciate a solid store in the west end.
Anne / November 19, 2013 at 05:05 pm
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Kudos to Grasshopper for taking the top spot. Dude is passionate about what he does and it shows with the store he runs. Everyone on this list is okay by me, don't understand why everyone on this comment page is so bum-hurt
Mark / November 19, 2013 at 05:34 pm
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Grasshopper records is the best? These guys sell the most beat records for $10-$30. They have no clue about grading records based on condition. Nice people who work there, but #1? Really?
Jaco / November 19, 2013 at 06:04 pm
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Toronto records buyers are always complaining about something. They're always broke, but want to buy records for nothing.

Hey fuckheads, open up your record store and see how long you last.

It's not easy as it looks within a city that values condos over small business. Try finding a location to sell records from for less than $2000 a month. Then do the math.

Now you see you cant sell records for peanuts to make the peanut gallery happy.

Congrats to all these shops because they're selling something many people lost faith in. There is something to be said for that.
Vinyl Fan / November 19, 2013 at 06:40 pm
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Been to a few record shops on this list but Rotate This is always the first and last destination when I go to buy records. Can't be in there for more than 10 minutes without have over $100 worth of records in my hands. Sometimes I go to Sonic Boom because of its convenient location and usually find a deal or two there.
Phil / November 20, 2013 at 09:17 am
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While maybe a little too new for it to be on a lot of people's radars, I feel like LP's LPs at lower Ossington deserves some love. A small(ish) but fantastic selection of records that other shops in the city aren't getting in.

Also...Neurotica!
Jeff / November 20, 2013 at 02:50 pm
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Grasshopper records is easily the worst record store in the city. Garbage, overpriced records, and terrible trade in prices. I'll never shop there again
Lincoln / November 21, 2013 at 07:22 pm
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I work at Vortex. We've just relaunched our web site and the new interface will allow us to update more easily from the store. Please take a look through our Just In section.

http://www.vortexrecords.ca
AA / November 25, 2013 at 11:58 am
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Love the Robert Palmer "Sneaking Sally" album cover front-and-centre in the Vortex pic
専門店 フラットシューズ 高品質 / November 29, 2013 at 07:11 pm
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JimBeam / December 6, 2013 at 08:48 am
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I would kiss the girl in the picture forever.
Squish / December 8, 2013 at 09:54 am
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I recently found a little place on College called Last Gen that has a small, but really great selection of records. To be honest, i almost don't want other people to know about it. They also stock a lot of good retro games, too.
SW / December 9, 2013 at 03:29 pm
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Hey - I hope someone sees this in time..

My boyfriend is a humungo music lover - he has thousands of vinyl records. A couple years ago, his record player broke and he had to toss it.

For Christmas this year, I want to get him a great record player that will last him years to come, but doesn't break the bank. Does anyone have any suggestions on where to go? Google isn't yielding many responses.

Thanks!!
Bey replying to a comment from SW / December 14, 2013 at 01:12 pm
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You should check out Urban Outfitters or Walmart. I have one from OU and Walmart and they both work great.
Anders / December 19, 2013 at 10:16 am
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SW, go to Planet Of Sound on Queen St W or E and get a Pro-Ject table. They have different price points from 350 and up.
Mike / December 29, 2013 at 09:32 am
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I was just talking to a friend about some of the great CD stores Toronto had in the 90s. There's one I can't remember the name of, that was my favourite - it started out on Queen West, in what later became the much music merchandise store. It moved across the street to John Street, north of Queen, for a while, then to 333 Yonge St, right next to HMV, but on the second floor. They had an amazing stock of avant-garde music, and staff were very knowledgeable and could get the most obscure things for you ... can anyone remember the name of the place?
Patman / January 3, 2014 at 08:29 pm
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This whole trend of "curated" boutique shops is getting ridiculous. The fact that Grasshopper is on this list is like putting Milli Vanilli and genius in the same sentence. Vinyl tourists would do well at vortex discovery sonic boom and around again, u can't beat rotate this for new and indie or play de record for hiphop reggae and dj stuff. And yes the quality and selection is high but they never say they're curated. Save your money for the real stores.
Josh / January 7, 2014 at 10:53 pm
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Neurotica is the best record store in downtown. Small store but the best customer service, the owner will try to find record you need. The rest of the stores in downtown are full of hipster duchbags.
Mik / January 24, 2014 at 10:09 pm
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Best store for old school hip hop ?
Ashton / January 24, 2014 at 11:30 pm
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For hip hop, I always go to Play De Record
Gi / February 12, 2014 at 11:44 am
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Neurotica records at 642 Queen st. W is by far the best, most down-to-earth record store in town!!
Gi replying to a comment from Gi / February 12, 2014 at 11:44 am
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With the greatest selection and best deals.
Lincoln / February 23, 2014 at 10:58 pm
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As I mentioned above, I run Vortex Records at Yonge and Eg.

On Saturday, March 1, I'll be opening a new shop called Good Music at 256A Queen West. That's the NW corner of Queen and John, INSIDE Black Market (taking over where Penguin Music used to be). For long-time Torontonians, the location is under where Pages Books used to be.

I haven't built the web site yet, but I have photographed a portion of the vinyl inventory and thrown it up on Instagram at http://instagram.com/goodarrivals

There is also a FB event if you want a calendar to remind you:
https://www.facebook.com/events/213149265551789/

For the grand opening, doors are at 11:30am.

Thank you!
Valo / March 7, 2014 at 09:49 am
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I shop all over T.o but I'm running out of money for Vinyl help me out here.
Beatles records for sale:
http://www.ebay.ca/itm/271419117724?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&;_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649
Mike replying to a comment from Mike / March 9, 2014 at 11:08 pm
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To Mike, asking about the cool store that moved around a lot: it was called The CD Bar. And it was legend.
seller replying to a comment from Jaco / March 16, 2014 at 05:02 am
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I agree with you. Running a business (any small business) in Toronto is extremely difficult. Think of all the great stores in Toronto that closed because the rent was raised sky high, Pages bookstore, Criminal Records,and now HMV (on Queen) etc.

People need to realize that good merchandise isn't cheap and costs money. That being said, I do think there are many record stores in the city charging insane prices on most records in general.
jim / March 18, 2014 at 11:04 pm
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seems everyone got on this vinyl is collectable kick. those who have been collecting it for years have seen this recent hipster trend make prices rise beyond the stratosphere I am going to grow a beard and drink starbucks while listening to my new hip portable record player.
Pandemonium was my local and I agree with the comment above. I was almost insulted by the price tags. they were a cool store that you could find good deals. now they have become a hipster please buy my 1,000 dollar record. most stuff is 40 dollars or above..
Johnny replying to a comment from Valo / March 31, 2014 at 10:04 am
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You do realize that those Beatles re-issues you are trying to sell on ebay sound shitty, right?
FrankRizzo / April 4, 2014 at 04:14 am
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These are generally the shops for people who frame their albums and listen to them on Crosley or Ion turntables and throw the word "Retro" around. Bring back the Vinyl Museum.
GT / April 25, 2014 at 05:07 pm
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RIP Sam The Record Man. The BEST place to look for vinyl.
Ron / July 19, 2014 at 11:29 pm
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Best records stores in Toronto? eBay and Discogs :-)
David Sear / August 28, 2014 at 08:57 pm
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I found this blog very useful for my recent trip to Toronto. Most Blues music vinyl now seems to command vintage prices. For those with a limited time frame: there's a nice selection of stores sprinkled along Queen St. I would start at Rotate This and walk down Queen St. to Kops, stopping at stores along the way. For Blues, Kops had perhaps the nicest LP selection. Neurotica was fun, if you like places jammed packed with CDs, LPs, DVDs and a few music books. Ambrosia feels on the way out with 20-40% discounts. Sonic Annex is now closed.
Spank Master Boogie / September 12, 2014 at 01:21 am
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Happy To See Play De Record still rockin' went there a few times when I was in the TdotO... I hear there doing more comic books now moreso than before...

Grat article..
Valo / September 28, 2014 at 11:24 am
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Vinyl sale in the GTA - Rare, autographed, and exclusive LPs
http://www.kijiji.ca/v-view-details.html?adId=1021990914
Mike / October 15, 2014 at 07:24 pm
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beware of selling items to SHE SAID BOOM College Street...

you will be ripped off by the management even if you have something valuable....

there are other more ethical stores such as Roncesvalles,Vortex Records on Yonge Around Again on Baldwin...

just sayin'

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