The Very Best Record Stores in Toronto

Toronto Life
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Record Store Day
Have you ever met a person who doesn’t like music? Hardly. We are all fond of it for it stimulates and nourishes our mind, heart, and body. Music is a highly sought-after commodity. But do you know where to shop for music in Toronto? With the upcoming Record Store Day (April 21), this article will be of much help to you.

Discovery Records

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Discovery Records
This independent shop has been open since 1982. It offers all types of music from grunge to opera and has access to many large collections as well. Enthusiasts who listen to blues and jazz, The Beatles, or Elvis Presley shouldn’t pass without stopping by. Vinyl records are their specialty, but if you’re looking for other formats, Discovery Records also sell lots of CDs, cassettes, even reel-to-reel tape recordings, music-related videos, books, and miscellaneous paper goods. If you are a passionate collector with distinctive requests, Discovery Records is the perfect place for you. Shop owner Jim encourages his prospective customers to feel free to send any request imaginable. Besides the amazing selection of used records, he usually gets many compliments on the condition and the price of his product. Every year, he has a great boxing week sale where he sells everything just for 50 per cent of the store price! Since the place is well organized, you won’t lose yourself in a chaotic tangle of music. Furthermore, Jim maintains a complete and up-to-date list of his inventory online. The listed records are categorized by codes to mark sound quality so you can browse without making a trip there.

Address:
1140 Queen St. East, Toronto, M4M 1L1

Opening Hours:
Monday-Saturday: 11:00 A.M.-6:00 P.M. (closed on Wednesdays)
Sunday: 12:00 P.M.-5:00P.M.

Phone number: (416) 778-6394
E-mail: jlevitt@globalserve.net
For more information, visit discoveryrecords.com.

Hits & Misses Records

(participating in this year’s Record Store Day)

Hits Misses Records
Hits Misses Records
This store, owned and managed by Pete Genest, has existed in several locales for more than 20 years. Nowadays it stands next to Rotate This, which you are going to read about later on. How is it possible that the two vinyl meccas of Toronto can be run so close to each other? While Rotate This stocks mainly indie rock, the repertoire of Hits & Misses is focused solely on punk, hardcore, metal, and the myriad sub-genres. Looking for The Clash? Come on! Why don’t you request a less popular artist? “Nowhere else in the city will you likely find something by the ”http://www.myspace.com/gorillabiscuits">Gorilla Biscuits," promises Genest. What’s more, the shop can pride itself on probably the largest and best collection of seven inch singles anywhere in North America and a large section of used CDs. You will surely appreciate a wall of patches and pins for purchase, too. The prices at Hits & Misses can differ widely depending on the rarity of a particular record. Most of the LPs cost around $15.99, whereas most of the seven inches are between $5.99 and $7.99. Some of Pete’s longtime customers often get a discount for their loyalty, though. Hits & Misses will simply engulf you by its stimulating atmosphere created by colourful posters that Pete has accumulated over the years.

Address:799 Queen St. West, Toronto, M6J 1G1
E-mail: petesgs@hotmail.com
For more information, visit hitsandmisses416.blogspot.com

Mike’s Music

Finding contact information on Mike’s Music is really tough. Mike Waite, the proprietor of the friendly neighbourhood record store, wants you to come and see for yourself. If you’re lucky, you’ll find him right in the shop. With a long white beard and an amiable smile, he’s an easily recognizable person who won’t hesitate over having a pleasant conversation with you. He’s like a gifted shaman who knows music and loves people. Mike’s Music carries primarily used CDs and a fair amount of new CDs and DVDs as well. The store’s selection will satisfy all kinds of tastes from B.B. King to the Kings of Leon. If you want to get rid of your unwanted stuff, Mike is more than willing to buy your used CDs for $1-$6. Mike says that the shop’s inventory is around 3,000. “We sell records faster than I can keep them stocked,” exults the proud owner. He also adds, “I think we work a lot harder to find stock. I’m always hunting for rare records, and I have collectors out on the road that I deal with on a frequent basis.” Mike established his business in 1992. In 2001, Mike’s Music expanded by opening a small antique section that can be found in the basement but is accessible only on the weekend. Antique chandeliers (one of them is a precious piece valued at $5000) and the red-and-white checkered floor make the search for used CDs an unforgettable experience.

Address: 105 Danforth Ave., Toronto, M4K 1N2

Neurotica Records

(participating in this year’s Record Store Day)

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Neurotica Records
Surrounded by trendy boutiques, Neurotica will undoubtedly catch your curious eye. This little place is crammed with CDs, vinyl records (LPs and 45s reaching the rooftops), cassette tapes, DVDs, Blu-rays, books, and video games. You probably assumed that there’s no room inside for a philosophy; the place is an eclectic hodgepodge, yet it’s very fruitful. Anything from Kanye West to Frank Zappa and more obscure titles is possible to find. There are incredible deals to be found, so it’s worth browsing — however long that may take. Fortunately, you can sit on bins and crates while browsing. Scott Cramer, the owner, is a genuinely nice guy who is honest, knows his stuff, and really likes to talk to you about music. This music junkie started handling records back in 1993 and has been there to help you dig up your request. He often brings something out of storage, so there’s always a new piece of music to find. As a listening station is always welcome, Neurotica has a turntable set-up that serves this purpose. You can ask for a card that gets you 10 per cent off all purchases, and 20 per cent discounts are given to those who clicked the Like button on Scott’s Facebook page. For the best deal, take home something from the $1 or seven-for-$5 racks outside. Neurotica also runs a studio that can take care of your duplication, restoration, and basic recording and mastering needs. If you need to transfer your old VHS tapes to DVD, Neurotica’s service is here just for you.

Address: 642 Queen St. West, M6K 1E4, Toronto

Opening hours:
Monday and Tuesday: closed (winter)
Wednesday-Friday: 2:00 P.M.-9:00 P.M.
Saturday: 12:00 P.M.-9:00 P.M.
Sunday: 2:00 P.M.-7:00 P.M.

Phone number: (416) 603-7796
For more information, visit neurotica.ca.

Paradise Bound

This music shop located in Kensington Market combines music with authentic antique art from Japan. Speakers attached to the façade send out music that entices you into coming in. After you enter, you immediately know Paradise Bound is a place with a unique style. In terms of music, it generally draws aficionados of gramophone LPs. Nevertheless, you won’t miss a decent collection of CDs and DVDs. The vinyl sits in old wine crates and in the middle of the shop’s music archives lies a turntable. It is at this turntable where you can listen to your preferred record before buying it. They carry every genre of music with a few rarities mixed in and they strictly grade their records. At the back of the store, you’ll find a few shelves of books. The owner of Paradise Bound is helpful, knows his stock, and always discounts 15 per cent for cash purchases.

Address: 270 Augusta Ave., Toronto, M5T 2L9

Opening hours:
Monday: closed
Tuesday-Saturday: 11:00 A.M.-7:00 P.M.
Sunday: 12:00 P.M.-6:00 P.M.

Phone number: (416) 916-7770
E-mail: coyote@paradisebound.ca
For more information, visit paradisebound.ca.

Play De Record

(participating in this year’s Record Store Day)

Play De Record
Play De Record
This place is a Toronto institution for music fans and DJs alike. It usually gets so packed and hectic in there that it makes digging an exercise — and justifiably so. They offer tons of records, a great pile of CDs, musical electronics, and the newest DJ gear. All genres except classical music, gospel, metal, and country are represented, but this is not a hard and fast rule. Just give them a call and they will tell you what is kept in stock right now. If you’re a die-hard fan who is looking for a rare mix tape or Thom Yorke’s Eraser Remixes on vinyl, for example, you can thank Nav Sangha a.k.a. DJ Nasty Nav for founding his store. Needless to say, you can put a randomly selected record on a turntable set-up and give it a listen. Prices are favourable; a customer once bought a box of 30 vinyl records for a derisory $6.99. Nothing to wear? Shirts and clothing by local designers in the front of the store are waiting especially for you. Oh, and don’t forget to get your music event tickets here, too.

Address: 357 Yonge Street, Toronto, M5B 1S1

Opening hours:
Monday-Saturday: 12:00 P.M.-8:00 P.M.
Sunday: 1:00 P.M.-6:00 P.M.

Phone number: (416) 586-0380
For more information, visit playderecord.com.

Rotate This

(participating in this year’s Record Store Day)

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Rotate This
This is one of Toronto’s leading and best known independent record stores that carried vinyl long before vinyl’s unexpected comeback. When you walk in, you’ll see banners of upcoming shows and magazines. Walk to the back, and you’ll see the collections of CDs on either side of the wall. Since most of the new releases are there within a week or two from their release date, Rotate This is an excellent choice when you are yearning for a new indie rock record in particular. Their electronic, hip-hop, jazz, reggae, and world music sections are smaller, but represented. Probably the only genre you won’t find here is country. If you’re looking to rid yourself of your dusty old record collection in exchange for some money, Rotate This would be more than happy to take a look. However, they are quite picky about records’ condition, so leave your damaged LPs at home. On the other hand, you don’t have to worry about purchasing a shabby record; although cheap (especially on a Boxing Day bargain), they are in a great shape. The turnover is extremely high, so if you’re hunting for something specific, you must frequent the store in high hopes of finding the treasure. Musical tastes aside, this is the place to go for ticket purchases, even for shows that have assigned seating. Compared to Ticketmaster, the prices can’t be beat, and they often provide you with a ticket long after Ticketmaster has sold out. And finally, my advice: it gets pretty crowded in there on the weekends so you’d better do your browsing on weekdays.

Address: 801 Queen St. West, Toronto, M6J 1G1

Opening hours (a bit impractical):
Monday-Thursday: 11:02 A.M.-7:06 P.M.
Friday: 11:01 A.M.-8:03 P.M.
Saturday: 10:58 A.M.-6:48 P.M.
Sunday: 12:05 P.M.-6:31 P.M.

Phone number: (416) 504-8447
E-mail (seriously): ilovespam@rotate.com
For more information, visit rotate.com.

Sonic Boom

(participating in this year’s Record Store Day)

Sonis Boom
Sonis Boom
While Sonic Boom on Bathurst Street has been a Toronto retail institution for more than a decade, it’s new vinyl-specialty location in Kensington Market is only about eight months old. Both of them are enormous stores for all things music: vinyl records, cassettes, CDs, VHS tapes, DVDs, accessories, clothing, record players — you name it. Come and see in-store performances by local, indie, and even international musicians or bands on occasion. Plus, check out Sonic Boom’s generous store hours! It’s a wonderland for any audiophile who is keen on new as well as used records. Their inventory ranges from 20,000 to 30,000 items. Though they carry each music genre, they feel much respect for rock. They simply can’t help it. Whether it’s classic rock ’n’ roll, punk rock, new wave, or indie rock, Sonic Boom makes it all available for their customers. They’ll also buy just about any music from you, although you may only get as little as a quarter. Like many stores, they ask for government-issued photo ID when buying your stuff. However, Sonic Boom Kensington does not sell or buy CDs and DVDs.

Sonic Boom Bathurst
Address: 782 Bathurst St., Toronto, M5S 2R6
Opening hours: 10:00 A.M.-12:00 A.M.
Phone number: (416) 532-0334

Sonic Boom Kensington
Address: 201 Augusta Ave., Toronto, M5T 2L4
Opening hours:
Monday-Thursday: 11:00 A.M.-7:00 P.M.
Friday-Sunday: 11:00 A.M.-9:00 P.M.
Phone number: (416) 901-8854

For more information, visit sonicboommusic.com.

Soundscapes

(participating in this year’s Record Store Day)

Soundscapes
Soundscapes
Another retailer that functions as a music venue, a ticket outlet for many independent promoters, and serves you day and night, this shop has been located in the Little Italy neighbourhood of downtown Toronto since 1999. Greg Davis, a chartered accountant, founded the place with the simple intent of bringing you the best music of all styles. The shop’s well-chosen stock ranges from folk, pop, rock, R&B, and soul to blues, jazz, world, classical, and experimental — not to mention numerous reissues and import titles. As Soundscapes is a long-time supporter of not only Toronto’s independent music scene, it can provide you with all the music you fail to find elsewhere. In this respect, the store boasts having the city’s best selections. A lot of their CDs and vinyl records are sorted by record label grouping, which can help you get what you want rather quickly. They also carry an incredibly vast selection of music books that goes far beyond the usual Bob Dylan and R.E.M. biographies. If you’re more into watching a video, there isn’t a music-related DVD you won’t be able to find (or at the very least, order) in this store. I highly recommend their website, too. It contains a very current inventory of tickets, excellent staff picks, contests, and new releases of music. Warning: it’s not difficult to drop a load of cash at Soundscapes, with so much good music to buy!

Address: 572 College St., Toronto, M6G 1B3

Opening hours: 10:00 A.M.-11:00 P.M.

Phone number: (416) 537-1620
For more information, visit soundscapesmusic.com.

Vortex

(participating in this year’s Record Store Day)

Vortex
Vortex
Walking on the east side of Yonge Street, Vortex is easily missable — it’s only marked by a door and a stairwell. Sometimes you pass around the building without realizing it’s actually there and you have to turn back. Climb up a few stairs and enjoy that nostalgic, lighthearted atmosphere you used to feel when you came into the best friend’s room. Some good tunes sounding all across the place create an even more familiar vibe. Burt, the owner, is a wonderful man — never a snob and always accommodating. Although Vortex may be a smaller store, it absolutely makes up for what it lacks in size with its impressive selection. Packed with used CDs, a considerable amount of vinyl, DVDs, and even Blu-ray discs, the shop has been in business for over 30 years and is well organized. With its astonishingly fast rotation, the “New Arrivals” area must be the hottest spot in the store. Everything is reasonably priced, and if you’re looking to sell your old records, Vortex is the right place to get an extra dollar. Be sure to look out for some box sets and curios on the wall behind the counter.

Address: 2309 Yonge Street, Toronto, M4P 2C6

Opening hours:
Monday-Wednesday: 10:00 A.M.-8:00 P.M.
Thursday-Saturday: 10:00 A.M.-10:00 P.M.
Sunday: 11:00 A.M.-6:00 P.M.

Phone number: (416) 483-7437
E-mail: info@vortexrecords.ca
For more information, visit vortexrecords.ca.

14 thoughts on “The Very Best Record Stores in Toronto

June 22, 2012 at 5:08 pm
Sylvain Lecours says:

Google Map of Independent Record Stores in downtown Toronto, following a recent visit (June 2012)

July 8, 2012 at 5:30 pm
tip says:

don’t forget to check out GRASSHOPPER RECORDS

October 24, 2012 at 9:35 pm
lounge musik says:

Very nice write-up. I absolutely appreciate this website.
Stick with it!

December 5, 2012 at 1:01 pm
Virginia McBride says:

I have an extensive collection of 33 1/3 albums in very good condition. I also have numerous 78 records, also in very good condition, all of which belonged to my late Father. I hate to think of these potential treasures ending up in a landfill and would like to know if any one is interested in them. Please contact me as soon as possible.

Thank you.

December 5, 2012 at 2:59 pm
Margaret says:

Hi Virginia,
To start, I would recommend contacting the record stores mentioned within the article. If it is not something that they do, ask them for suggestions. Chances are you would not be the first person to ask and they might have some valuable insights. Best of luck!
Regards,
Margaret

December 9, 2012 at 4:10 am
Sheri says:

Awesome article.

December 14, 2012 at 1:48 am
Mario says:

Hi! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the great work!

December 17, 2012 at 10:31 am
Margaret says:

Hi Shona,
What specifically did you need additional information on?
Regards,
Margaret

December 21, 2012 at 7:56 pm
Bwest says:

Thanks for this sweetness. -informative knowledge of the Toronto vinyl music zene!

February 16, 2013 at 9:32 pm
https://www.epivista.de/forum/forum/viewmember?member=JoyceSchu says:

I hope you don’t mind me visiting and thanking you for the post – it truly helped

March 2, 2013 at 3:30 am
Gold Coast X Fit says:

Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you writing this post
plus the rest of the website is extremely good.

April 16, 2013 at 4:12 am
Austin says:

Very good info. Lucky me I recently found your site by chance (stumbleupon).
I have book marked it for later!

August 14, 2013 at 10:21 pm
ben says:

vinyl is the plural of vinyl

August 16, 2013 at 4:20 am
Jamie Sarner says:

Hi Ben,

Thanks for stopping by and noticing the bad grammar. I believe it is corrected now.

Thanks,

Jamie

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