The top 20 record stores in Toronto by neighbourhood
Record stores in Toronto are easy to take for granted; only when you leave the city in search of sought after LPs do you really realize how easy it is to be a vinyl-hound in downtown Toronto. No matter what neighbourhood you call home in this city, chances are there are some pretty cool spots within walking distance. Below I've compiled a city crawl-ready compendium of musical meccas to flip through as you shake off winter.
Here are my picks for the top record stores in Toronto by neighbourhood.
Settling into a new location is always difficult, but Neurotica's Scott Cramer is making it look easy. Come check out their new spot in Mirvish Village, where you will find the familiar comfort of their bulging crates and trove of dollar-bin finds intact, as well as impressively bulky exotica and soundtrack sections. Don't forget to hit up Kops' Annex shop too.
Amassed around an equally impressive range of refurbished stereo equipment, the cozy Around Again also offers an expansive collection of used vinyl, specifically catering to jazz and classical audiences. Keep an eye on their New Arrivals bin, which often exhibits a variety of classics at affordable prices.
Now that their previous two locations are once again reunited at their new Spadina location, Sonic Boom has become an easy one-stop during an afternoon of Banh Mi's and cheap groceries on Spadina. Their stock has now begun to expand beyond music into Urban Outfitter-ish lifestyle accessories, but they still manage to keep their vinyl game competitive.
Danforth's main vista of all things musical, Mike's Music has remained constant in a neighbourhood that's defined by both progress and tradition. The charmingly cluttered store stocks new and used vinyl, CDs and DVDs (as well as a basement of antiques and nick-nacks).
Now situated in a slightly classier spot as opposed to their previous sidewalk residency in Kensington, Grasshopper specializes in those rare, unique pressings that a special breed of collectors salivates for. Easily approachable, owner Derek Madison will not only point you in the direction of what you (perhaps unknowingly) desire, but will give you the rundown of previous releases and deep cuts.
Worth the extra trip along the westbound 501 streetcar, Village Vinyl Cafe is a cozy little shop on Lake Shore Boulevard at the edge of Etobicoke. Offering both coffee and baked goods along with their musical wares, the shop hosts a friendly vibe, with a vintage jukebox in the corner still doling out three songs for a quarter.
The Junction's main source of vinyl enjoyment (not to mention an expansive collection of literature), Pandemonium's stock covers all genres, from an encyclopedic soundtrack catalogue to the farthest reaches of the avant-garde. For those with a little extra cash in hand, scan the wall above the cash register for the some seriously rare presses.
Not only does Paradise Bound offer a healthy amount of vinyl, but they also specialize in Japanese art and prints. Grab a coffee at Cafe Pamenar across the street and treat yourself both to a compendium of good taste. A little further up Augusta, on College, you'll also make do with She Said Boom's always-rotating bins.
Easy to miss, the meek In The Groove is a great space to spend a Sunday afternoon, bemusedly pawing through the store's surprisingly comprehensive selection. Bonus, is the garage in the back garden, which houses some serious Rn'b and Soundtrack stock. Also, don't forget to stop by Discovery Records on your way back across the Don River bridge.
Specializing in Bollywood, Bhangra and Indian Classical music, Indian Record Store offers a focused, but informed selection of Indian musical culture. Whether you're tracking down a specific import, or just curious about the Indian musical heritage, this shop is a great place to start your journey.
Catering to those who still hold the CD format in high esteem, Soundscapes crams more music per square inch in their tiny store than most vinyl shops can handle. While they have recently built up a decent pile of 12" to match, Soundscapes offers everything you need in your home listening, as well as selling tickets to most of Toronto's concert venues. June Records is conveniently a short walk across College, should your tastes come in 12" rather than 5".
In decidedly better digs than their previous locale in the back of a health food shop, Chris Gibson's Parkdale Platters (the record store formally known as Chairs Missing) continues their reputation for wildly affordable used vinyl. Right down Queen from Glory Hole Donuts (record shaped), it's easy to make a regular visit an overindulgence spree.
Neighbourhood mainstay Kops is in need of extra space to display their vast backup of new and used vinyl stock (leading to their semi-recently opened second location in the Annex). Be sure to stop in at the close-by Good Music, located in the basement cave of Black Market a few blocks west.
Newly birthed onto the idyllic residential Riverside strip, Paper Bag Records founder Trevor Larocque and his partner Maude Fallon-Davesne have built a (tiny) oasis for people who share their vinyl fixation. Tiny Record Shop is located in the back of Token Gift Shop, and connected to neighbouring Common Sort, make sure to keep an eye on future in-store appearances combining the two indie spaces.
Having also recently taken up a new location, LP's LPs is a welcome addition to Roncesvalle's residential vibe. Located within spitting distance of the also-notable Tonality Records on Dundas, LPs (LP's) specializes in all things electronic, industrial, vintage and noise, making it an altar to experimental music fans.
Beach Sound is located on Kingston Road near Glen Stewart Park, and behind its modest, homey store front waits a stockpile of bargain vinyl. From classic rock to jazz and hip hop, the shop offers much more variety and in-depth stock than you'd expect for its quiet, bucolic setting.
WEST QUEEN WEST
Although initially intimidating to newcomers, Rotate This' staff are more than willing to help you scour their expansive stock to find that certain Afrobeat-oddity you've been hunting. With a regular turnover of used arrivals, it is certainly worth stopping in on the regular to keep an eye on the action.
YONGE & DUNDAS
A breakbeat-digger's cathedral, Play De Record has Toronto's marketplace of vinyl-DJ culture down-pat. While stocking 12"s of the latest electronic and house picks, they also deal in DJ equipment, offer classes on spinning, and are the furthest east outpost of ticket sales in downtown Toronto.
YONGE & EGLINTON
Although its easy to get lost in all the big-box hustle at Yonge-Eglington, there still exists a sanctuary of vinyl in a small, upstairs shop, brimming with vinyl, CD's and DVDs. A local treasure, Vortex is worth squeezing in between the stacks, often filled with people, to walk away with a fist-full of rare wax.
YONGE & WELLESLEY
Situated at the edge of the village and easy to miss, Refried Beats deals in used vinyl, CD's and DVDs. The staff are friendly, and are always willing to recommend their current listening fodder or help you come through their well-organized shelves.
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