Vinyls have become cool again, and nowhere more so than in the Windy City. Independent record stores are thriving as people seek out their favorite music in the retro format. Check out Chicago based photographer John Khuu’s top stores in Chicago to get your record fix.
Having three locations – Wicker Park, Lakeview, and the Loop, Reckless Records arguably holds the throne in Chicago. Some may debate with me but you absolutely cannot beat the reasonable prices and selection they offer. It doesn’t matter what you’re looking for, they will most likely have it. Whether you’ll be looking for that feeling again or simply looking for “newer” content, Reckless does not disappoint and is a must.
Jazz, afrobeat, latin, reggae, soul, funk, and world fans alike please listen. In Wicker Park, this store will suck you into an abyss which you’ll have a tough time getting yourself out of. More of an array CD collection than vinyls, they still hold their own in their diverse eclectic library. Ask any of the staff working there for their favorites in any genre and you’ll be surprised how they’ll go above and beyond the call of duty. Venture to the back and make sure you check the bargain basement, you’ll find so many gems you didn’t know existed to add to your library.
Relatively new kids on the block of the West Town side of the city, they also have a satellite location in Los Angeles. Their forte is the quality of their content vs quantity and it’s clearly evident. Any heavy music enthusiast will find this place to have major underground content from cassettes and 45’s and used vinyl that aren’t readily available compared to the other locations in the city. This shop is the epitome of a small shop record store where the staff know pretty much everything in their inventory. Stroll through here and you may very well see a comforting and cozy lounge session band playing an off schedule gig.
LAURIE’S PLANET OF SOUND
Head up north a bit to the heart of Lincoln Square, Laurie’s Planet of Sound was named one of the best record stores in the USA by Rolling Stone Magazine. Right when you walk in, your nose will react to the incense from the back of the store and you’ll notice there is more than just a vast music collection. They sell classic unique board games, VHS’, and an insanely audacious variety of dvd’s treasures. This store is a place when other stores inventory is low, you are more than likely to find it there. You’re guaranteed to come home with something new to add to your collection.
Walking into Gramaphone in Lakeview is a haven and staple for anyone who loves house music. Mainly influenced by the Chicago / Detroit house scene, they have the widest variety of vinyls. When you walk in, they’re always playing the deepest cuts they just received. What’s great about this store is that the staff are incredibly knowledgeable and friendly too. Talk to them long enough, they’ll tell you their stories about how they used to go there as a customer and ended up working there meeting all of the famous DJ’s looking for new vinyls. Make sure you check the new vinyl’s they have on the walls. Throw one on a listening station and time will fly by. From house, acid, bass, UK garage, techno, and dub, Gramaphone is a central hub for any electronic fanatics.
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