11 places to feed your vinyl addiction on Record Store Day
Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on April 19, 2018 at 9:01 a.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on OnMilwaukee.com, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.
CDs have lost their luster and downloads are down the drain when you drop your iPad into the bathtub – but for all its purported shortcomings, vinyl survives and, once again, thrives.
Sure, the technology seems wonky and unlikely, but the sound is warm, the covers can be unrivaled art pieces and the rituals are ingrained in many music lovers.
Just in time for Record Store Day, here are some of the best places around town to wax musical and feed your PVC addiction.
2341 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 882-9797
Unlike most of the shops listed here, Acme focuses almost solely on vinyl (though a few select CDs – typically in boxed sets – and cassettes have oozed in). Ken Chrisien knows his stuff, which means you'll find top-notch stuff in A-1 condition. You'll find some amazing things, but you won't likely pull the wool over Chrisien's eyes.
1627 E. Irving Pl., (414) (414) 223-3177
A mix of used and new vinyl and used CDs in most every genre, with especially strong jazz, rock and reggae sections can be had at Bull's Eye. And good deals can be had here, especially the cheapie bins.
The Exclusive Company
Exclusive sells its all, including vinyl, especially new domestic releases and Record Store Day (presumed) collectibles. There are locations all over the state, but the two closest are on Farwell Avenue and in Greenfield, next door to...
(Photo: Half Price Books)
You'll find a ton of wax at the Half-Price Books locations around town, almost entirely used. The selection is constantly changing and the best way to find goodies is to make a circuit among the shops on a regular basis. I've known folks who have found entire collections of amazing records here and snatched them up, typically at (relatively) rock bottom prices.
2649 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 744-2540
Though it's not strictly speaking a record shop – Luv Unlimited also sells vintage clothes and other items – here veteran Milwaukee musician Sage Schwarm curates a selection of vinyl that is packed full of gems, especially in reggae and other booty-shaking genres. And Schwarm tells us that he's building more racks to accommodate what he says will be a nearly doubling of his new and used inventory.
833 E. Kilbourn Ave., (414) 271-0666
Ken Freck's little corner shop on the lower level of Kilbourn and Marshall has been around (seemingly) forever. His stock spans the decades and while it includes rock and roll of all era, it also includes jazz, soul and other genres, too. The small place is literally stuffed full of vinyl.
Off the Beaten Path
3201 S. Howell Ave., (414) 224-1550
Though it typically has fairly limited hours, Off the Beaten Path – which moved to Bay View from the East Side in spring 2017 – sells vinyl and CDs, and stereo equipment, along with locally made jewelry and art.
7045 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis, (414) 453-3900
(Photo: Record Head/Facebook)
Record Head has been a music lover's haven for years in Milwaukee – in a couple locations – selling new and used musical instruments, but also records and CDs. Especially strong in rock of all kinds, with a killer metal section.
If you want rock bottom prices, hit the trail of resale shops – Goodwill, Value Village, etc. – on a regular basis. Your skin will dry out from the dust and you'll marvel at how many people bought all the same crap records over the years, but sometimes you'll also get handed some real gems. It's a lot of work, so only the devout will likely endure when taking this route.
2635 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 481-6040
A Bay View landmark, Rushmor sells vinyl, CDs and more – new and used. Especially strong in punk rock and indie releases. A shop run – like many of the ones on this list – by passionate music lovers and record collectors.
Stardust Records & Collectibles
106 S. Main St., Thiensville, (262) 242-7600
This used record store has limited hours – noon-7 on Fridays and 11-5 on Saturdays, and by appointment – but a selection that is anything but limited. There are records everywhere in the shop – 45s, LPs, 78s – plus memorabilia, too. There's jazz, rock, pop, R&B. Be prepared to dig for gold here.
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