10 Brooklyn Record Stores, that you may not know about
New York City has a lot less record stores than it used to, but there are still a lot here, especially in the outer boroughs. Some are pretty well known, like Rough Trade in Williamsburg which is also an active music venue (and is hosting a day full of live entertainment on Record Store Day). Some are a little more off the beaten path. Here are 10 of those lesser known Brooklyn record stores that we think are worth visiting.
The list eschews specialty stores (like African Record Center in Crown Heights), and not only is it just Brooklyn (Queens, we’ll get to you soon), we didn’t include any Williamsburg or Greenpoint shops (though our Record Store Day 2017 Live Performances & Events guide mentions many of them)
Check out the list below, and a lot more photos of the stores in the gallery above.
What are your favorite record stores in Brooklyn (or the rest of NYC)?
Only open since January, this very new Carroll Gardens spot doesn’t even have an awning yet, but is well-stocked with a 70/30 mix of used and new vinyl, with a clear love of punk, power-pop and garage. Prices are a little elevated but everything is in pretty good condition, and they’ve got more than a few choice wall items if you’re willing to spend the dough. If not, they’ve also got boxes and boxes of cheapo records, with some gems to be found. Nice store.
Part record store and part coffee shop, with a decorative sense somewhere between Buffalo Bill and PT Barnum (you can buy that stuff too), Black Gold has been open on Court Street in Carroll Gardens since 2010. Small, but well curated, and prices are reasonable. Lots of jazz, punk and post-punk.
Despite what seems like constant publicized threats of eviction and closure for the last ten years, the Park Slope landmark remains open, almost preserved in amber (or dust). The place is absolutely jammed with records (and DVDs), They do carry new stuff, but most of the used records seem to have been there since 1971. Looking for that rare Don Ho or Engelbert Humperdinck album? Fifth Avenue Record & Tape Center probably has it…somewhere. We wouldn’t want it any other way.
This Bushwick spot feels like the kind of kind of record store that used to be all over the Village: big, with records in every possible corner, and music heads thumbing through all of them. (This was by far the busiest store I visited.) Most stores simply have a New Arrivals section — Human Head divvies it up into days, going back a week. Their cheapo section, where there’s no shortage of Steely Dan, Hall & Oats, and The Police, is better than most. They’ve got lots of vintage stereo gear for sale too.
Spacious, well-stocked and a little off-the-beaten path on a desolate stretch of Flushing Ave in East Williamsburg/Bushwick, Material World is one of Brooklyn’s better record stores. Lots of well chosen new and used vinyl, and lots of bargains to be found. Fans of late ’80s / early ’90s UK indie will definitely want to stop by. You’ll also want to check out their display of swords.
A quintessential neighborhood store, the tiny Music Matters has been catering to Park Slope for 19 years, that also sells instruments, guitar strings and cables in addition to records and a fair amount of CDs. On the vinyl side, it’s mostly (weirdly) new releases, with only a few crates of used records, though cheapo bins line the floor and are stocked with some good stuff. The awning was missing on the day I was there.
Brooklyn label Norton Records opened up this tiny, triangular shop in Prospect Heights last year. In addition to stocking Norton’s catalog, the shop carries a variety of other similarly themed records (’60s garage, rockabilly, surf, soul, R&B and country). Staff knows their stuff as you might imagine. Inventory is small, but contains few bum records.
Permanent Records moved from Greenpoint to South Slope back in 2014. It’s not a traditional storefront — you need to buzz to get in — and you might not even know it exists from the street, but head up the elevator to the first floor and they’ve got a small but very well-curated selection of both new and used records and a few DVDs.
Started by Red Hook resident and actor Bene Coopersmith, this Red Hook shop is about as laid back as they come, and you may feel like you stepped into a Brooklyn remake of Richard Linklater’s Slacker. There are couches, people are drinking tea, and hanging out is encouraged. With a DJ setup in the front window, there’s always good music spinning and the store has a little bit of everything, including no shortage of dollar record bins.
Record Store Day? “That’s every day, man!” We can dig.
This basement level store is very Bushwick: big, laid back and a little disorganized. Lots of plants. While it’s clear the owners have a love of techno, house and other dance music (their 12″ section is huge), really they’ve got LOTS of everything, including reel-to-reel tapes. Whatever your itch, they’ve got something to scratch it. Especially if it’s danceable.