Racism, racial inequality, and racial injustice have plagued America for centuries, but long overdue conversations on these topics have been happening on a major, mainstream level ever since the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police led to nationwide protests, all of which happened during a worldwide pandemic that especially impacts black and brown communities. Because of this, we've seen a recent increase in activism, fundraisers, and the promotion of art/literature that benefit the fight for racial justice.
Even beyond that, there are more ways to get involved, including directly uplifting and supporting Black people (those you know and those you don't) in regard to their ideas and their endeavors, in your everyday life. One of the most direct and sustainable ways to support the Black community is to shop at and support Black-owned businesses as often as possible, especially now that the pandemic has taken its toll on small, independent businesses in general.
The music industry is one of many industries that the pandemic has been hitting hard, and that includes record stores. That makes now an even better time than ever to support your local record stores, especially Black-owned record stores. We've compiled a list of 19 Black-owned record stores all across the US. Check out the list below, and feel free to tell us any we missed in the comments!
MOODIES RECORDS - BRONX, NYC
Earl Moodie moved to The Bronx from Jamaica as a teenager in 1969 and worked as a store manager at the legendary but now-closed Brad's Record Den (run by Jamaican native Brad Osbourne) before opening his own store, Moodies Records, in 1982. The store has long had a focus on reggae, dancehall, rocksteady, and other Jamaican music (and Moodie also owns a reggae label that shares its name with the store), but there's no limit to what the store provides. "He always says, 'If we don't have it, we can get it for you,'" co-owner Earl Moodie Jr said of his father in an interview with Clinton Lindsay. The store was forced to downsize and move from its original 225th St location to White Plains Road in 2013, but it's continued to thrive as both a local staple and an attraction to people who visit New York from all around the world. "People come from Germany, Kosovo, Japan. It's spread by word of mouth over the years," Moodie Sr said. To view what they have available, check out the store's Instagram and/or call (718) 654-8368.
HALSEY & LEWIS - BROOKLYN, NYC
As described via their website, Halsey & Lewis is "a vintage vinyl/gift shop in Bedford Stuyesant Brooklyn" that sells "electrically curated items with a social conscience."
The shop was opened in 2017 by Martin Brewer, a Pennsylvania native and longtime Brooklyn resident who first owned a similar shop in Park Slope from 1997 to 2002. "It was not gentrified, and rent was $650," he said in an interview with Black-Owned Brooklyn. Brewer says he's "always been a flea market, junk shop type of cat" and that comes across at Halsey & Lewis, where customers can find anything from unusual texts, to vintage guitars, pottery, clothing, retro luggage, boomboxes, knickknacks, and a massive collection of records. The collection includes jazz, soul, funk, rock, hip hop, and more, with an emphasis on '70s and '80s material. Their Discogs is currently being updated regularly.
BRITTANY'S RECORD SHOP - CLEVELAND, OH
Brittany Benton (aka DJ Red-I and one-half of hip-hop duo FreshProduce) owns Cleveland record store Brittany's Record Shop, located at 6410 Fleet Ave. Previously, she ran the Young Kings record store along with Samantha Flowers.
At Brittany's (which opened in 2018), they specialize in hip-hop, reggae/dancehall, R&B/funk/soul, jazz, world music, and electronic music. But Brittany also prides herself on her ability to provide customers with just about anything they can imagine. "I also special order by request so if there is something. I wouldn't typically stock at the shop, I'll get it for a customer if I can. I just want to make sure that I'm putting records that people want in their hands," she said in an interview with Okayplayer.
You can view what's available on the shop's website.
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Another great weekend in the books. Shoutout to @broken_keys of @smokescreen216 for coming through with a killer eclectic vinyl set. Heard a bit of everything from Sergio Mendes, Kaytranda to Redman. Wanna do an in-store set? DM all inquiries. See you all next week. #vinyl #recordstore #vinyldj #45rpm #hiphopvinyl #housemusicvinyl #turntable
FRESHTOPIA - NORFOLK, VA
Owner DJ Bee (aka Beesus The DJ) opened Freshtopia just before the pandemic made headlines in January 2019. At Freshtopia, you can find anything from apparel to a large number of vinyl (covering genres such as hip-hop, soul, funk, and R&B) to even face masks. You can also catch Beesus spinning vinyl live both for in-store customers and for Fresh Radio.
You can view the store's collection and contact them via their website or their Instagram account.
JAMPAC RECORDS - MONROE, NC
Jampac Records opened in 1986, when owner (and Monroe local) Walter Gibson and his wife, Flora, took their love for music (and their then collection of 25 cassette, 50 records, and just about $1,000) to a small location in Monroe, NC. As Gibson said about those early days in an interview with Charlotte Magazine, "We started off in a building about as big as a closet, but the rent was $130 a month. It was enough to do what we needed to do. The dream was bigger than our money."
Since then, Jampac has not only made a move to a new location (which is five times bigger than the latter), but has transformed and cemented itself as a pillar of the Monroe community. Gibson's collection has expanded to include everything from 12" singles to 78's. It covers a diverse mix of genres (from rock to R&B, gospel, folk, hip-hop and rap, big band, jazz, show tunes), and they specialize in vintage releases.
But, beyond their overflowing inventory, Jampac is more than just a record store. For example, they host an annual talent show, a tradition that began in 1990 that commemorates their 30+ years of businesses and celebrates singers, rappers, dancers, and other performances from around the community.
As Gibson continued, “My passion for music took me from one part of my life to the next by elevating me. I used it to open up doors for myself.” And those doors can open for others as long as Jampac's remain open to the Monroe community.
Due to the pandemic, you can make purchases from Jampac via curbside pickup or local delivery. For those who need to ship,shipping is free on orders of over $50. You can view their inventory on Facebook, Instagram, and Discogs.
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Vinyl records at jampac record's downtown Monroe and cassettes...cds too! Yes we do buy music 🎶 come see us this week .One more thing we ship to you and the world 🌎.. Stuff come in everyday... The music U hear is for sale and used for promotion only ... We don't own it but. I'll SALE it.
VIBES & STUFF RECORD SHOP - VALDOSTA, GA
27-year-old Le'Shawn Taylor opened Vibes & Stuff in 2018 with "no business knowledge whatsoever besides the business start-up book I read a quarter of," and right now he's actually looking to relocate from Valdosta, Georgia to Atlanta. Taylor isn't selling records at the moment, but if you'd like to support the shop, he launched a GoFundMe to help raise money for a new van to aid him in the move.
MEMORIES OF SOUL - NEWARK, NJ
Memories Of Soul is a music and memorabilia shop in Newark, NJ, and owner John Mobley recently launched a GoFundMe to help offset the negative impact the pandemic has had on the store. For more background on what they do, Mobley writes, "Memories Of Soul is a Memorabilia Shop, specializing in retro style, feelings and memories, along with a great educational library concept. I carry "Old School" Music, clothing, Movies, Oils & incense with Oil Burners, Posters, Vinyl Records (45s,33s & 78s) Singles & Albums, Head & Ear Phones, also Old School VHS & Cassette Tapes, We also carry Cultural Art & House Gifts. Memories of Soul has been a successful pillar in the Newark community simply because of our consistency of love and respect of our community and its great heritage, which it displays when you visit (buying or not), many enjoy just window shopping with us and coming inside and learning about the Great & Very Talented Artists of our past." You can read more and donate at the GoFundMe and get more updates at the store's Facebook.
OUT OF THE PAST COLLECTIBLES - AUSTIN, TX
As described in a piece by Austin Weekly News, Charlie Joe and Marie Henderson have been married for 56 years and have been in business together for 50 of them. Their longest-running business is Out of The Past Collectibles—formerly, Out of The Past Records—which has hosted a vast collection of LPs, CDs, DVDs, cassette tapes, 8-tracks since its opening at this location in 1986. Much of their collection was accumulated during the 80s when, with the advent of CDs, record companies and distributors began selling off their unsold vinyl at record-low prices. Their collection as of present specializes in jazz, blues, soul, pop, old and new school R&B, and hip-hop.
As Charlie said regarding their store's persistence despite the "digital boom,""Old LP records have become collectors' items. When CDs came out, they said CDs were indestructible and the sound was clearer," Charlie said. "But we found out that wasn't true and people with good ears said the sound of LPs is superior. I don't know why, but LPs are more personable than CDs. The art on the cover makes me remember every song on a lot of these albums."
As that same article mentioned, one of the store’s fans was the late, great soul singer Otis Clay, who encouraged record collectors from all over the world to visit the store.
Since the store has evolved to include more than just records, though, customers can find anything from antiques and other collectibles there, too. The store expands across 10 rooms and is chock full of over a million (and counting) items. "I hate to tell you – I’m not an organized person," said Marie in an interview with Austin Talks. "But I always tell people, 'We call ourselves dusties; we have our gloves, we have our masks, so if you reckon, come spend the day with us.'"
You can find out more information about the store on their Facebook page.
SERIOUS SOUNDS - HOUSTON, TX
Since 1991, Houston record store Serious Sounds has been working “to keep the history & legacy of Black music alive.” As owner Marketta "Music Lady" Rodriguez said in an interview with Okayplayer, "I'm really a niche, relic, dinosaur store, but hey—there's a need [for records] and I fill it."
On how Serious Sounds has continued to thrive all these years, Rodriguez says her store gives customers "things they cannot get from some of your big box stores." For example, back in 2011 when Rodriguez was interviewed by The Houston Factor, Serious Sounds hosted a unique "Download Kiosk" where customers could use a computer in-store to find whatever specific tracks/ albums they were interested in, burn them onto their own, custom CD. Rodriguez has also always had her ear to the ground. In a 2007 Billboard feature on Houston rap, she predicted the fate of UGK's now-classic comeback album Underground Kingz: "This album will blow up."
At the moment, you can support Serious Sounds by curbside pick-up or by placing an order for mail. You can view what they have in shop and purchase via Facebook and Instagram (and DM to purchase). They also have e-gift cards available.
JB'S RECORD LOUNGE - ATLANTA, GA
JB's Record Lounge began as a basement full of "records and friends," as described via their website. Since then, it has transformed from a "crate-digging party" for friends into a thriving business where anyone is welcome to dive right in. As their website continues, today, they carry about 13,000 pieces, turntables, and so much more. Although JB's Record Lounge is closed due to the pandemic, you can still purchase an e-gift card to use when they open back up!
JB is also hosting a monthly "Record Club" where you can buy two chosen records (at a discount) and shipping is free.
GOTWHATULIKE RECORDS - KANSAS CITY, MO
"Come browse through our Turntables and receivers, as well as our 12,000 records and 8,000 singles of Hip hop, funk, soul, punk, classic rock, blues, jazz, and so much more," reads Kansas City, MO's GotWhatULike Records' bio. "No matter what you're looking for, we've GotWhatULike."
As one Yelp reviewer put it in a five-star review, "The owner is the only employee, and it shows." The owner in question is lifelong music lover Mark Harper. In a profile on The Pitch, Harper discussed going from a crate-digging child to a DJ as a high schooler in the mid-to-late 1990s to a serious record collector in the early 2010s. He started selling the records he no longer wanted and some electronics out of the shed behind his house, and eventually he outgrew the shed, moved into a storefront at 11539 Hickman Mills Drive, and GotWhatULike was born.
FIVESPACE - SAN DIEGO, CA
As described via their website, "Fivespace is a Black owned record shop in North Park, San Diego with a deeeep Hip Hop selection. In the store you’ll find a variety of vinyl, cassettes, and select vintage clothing."
In an interview on SDVoyager, owner Sir Froderick said, "Fivespace is a curated shop designed to serve the increasing number of consumers interested in vintage design and music products. The store buys music, apparel, and accessories from a variety of distributors that provide good quality and dependable service. Fivespace will resell them 'as is' to our target market. Fivespace specializes in hip hop records and cassettes that are current, and some that are hard to find at existing music stores. The store will only carry a limited amount of used records, cassettes. accessories like stickers, pins, patches, and books."
He later adds, "Unlike a trip to the 'other' vinyl stores, visiting Fivespace makes you part of a community of vintage lovers... The owners of Fivespace are obsessives with an incredible wealth of knowledge about vintage items. A quick chat with us about your interests will offer up a whole new world of styles, artists, and genres to discover that are tailored to your individual tastes."
You can find a detailed archive of their collection on their Discogs page.
HOME RULE RECORDS - D.C.
Self-described as "the best in used Jazz, Soul, Funk, R&B, Go-Go, Hip-Hop, International, and more," Home Rule Records, a used and rare records store, popped up in D.C. in 2018. You can view their collection via their Discogs library and learn more on their website.
MOODS MUSIC - ATLANTA, GA
Atlanta mom & pop record store Moods Music has been a Little Five Points staple since 2000, and owner Darryl "D-Nice" Harris has become known for both the store's welcoming community and his own expert curation (he has a series of Moods Music compilations). Renaissance woman Kemi Bennings penned the store's bio, which reads in part:
Take a walk into the Moods Music Zone.
Like the scent from Grandma's kitchen, the aroma draws you into its essence.
Sounds that immediately penetrate your soul
A funky fusion of acid, afro-cuban, jazzy, house, rare grooves that make your hips move and sway like they never have before, and in that instant, The Bazaar's hallways become a dance floor –
An open door portal to heaven –
Ascension to peace on earth –
And for a moment in time you drift away, giving birth to the brightness of a new day
You stay a while, but only long enough to see the child – in you
the smile – in you
A mood that sets you free
OFFBEAT - JACKSON, MS
Owner Phillip Rollins (aka DJ Young Venom) first opened OffBeat in 2014. Since then, it has transformed into a home for new and old releases, reissues, and used records, too. You can also find a collection of collectibles, pins, apparel, and even face masks among the amazing collection they have.
BETTER DAYS RECORDS - LOUISVILLE, KY
Back in 1998, Better Days owner Ben Jones was dubbed "the patron saint of Louisville's music scene" by Louisville Music News, and over 20 years later, Better Days was called the best record store in Kentucky by Vinyl Me, Please.
VMP traced Jones' history back to childhood (he began DJing as a 12-year-old) up through his days working as an employee at the original Better Days store, to when Jones bought the store in 1982 and continued to turn it into his own over the years. Shortly after buying the store, Jones moved it to its current location along Bardstown Road, and in 1995 he opened up a second location on the opposite side of town (Better Days West). Jones also showed dedication to the local scene by starting the Better Days label and manufacturing CDs for local musicians in the '90s. He worked with everyone from his church's choir to punk bands to dance/house DJs.
DBS SOUNDS - RIVERDALE, GA
Riverdale, Georgia's DBS Sounds has been around since 1994, and specializes in R&B, reggae, electronic, and hip hop, and the store has become known not just for their music selection but also their meet and greets, BBQs, and other community events (including their much-loved Record Store Day events). A 2010 HipHop Enquirer article says the store has "been the backbone and on the frontline for recording artists and labels in the Southeast since the beginning of most popular artist's careers." From the store's website:
While times have changed and the "Dirty South" has taken over the radio, television, and every other outlet in the music industry, there remains one constant: DBS Sounds. Tobago Benito founded the company in 1994 and with persistence and a fierce drive to be the best. Millions of record sales later this veteran company has positioned itself as the premier source for retail music. DBS Sounds is strategic in marketing and breaking out new and established artists and provides excellent marketing for record companies and independent labels in the music industry. All the while ensuring its customers the highest quality of service.
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RE-RUNZ RECORDS - ORLANDO, FL
Re-Runz Records opened in 2016, but owner Ed Smith has been selling records for decades. According to the store's Facebook, "Since 1985 Ed has been selling vinyl all over the world operating a mail order business from his home through his self produced catalog as well as record shows and by placing ads in collector magazines such as Goldmine and Discoveries. All of this was before the internet. From 1990 - 2000 Ed operated a physical store almost under the same name Re-Runs Records. Over the years Ed has conducted successful businesses on Amazon, Gemm and Ebay." The store specializes in soul, funk, rock, jazz, R&B, blues, gospel, disco, hip hop, and reggae, and they sell new and used vinyl, cassettes, and CDs.
The store recently reopened after being forced to close due to the pandemic, and you can also order music through their online store at Discogs.
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Temporary hours are: Thurs 11am - 5pm, Fri. and Sat. 11am - 6pm, Sun 12pm - 4pm. I would like to thank everyone for all the shout outs and support. If you should decide to shop with us, please wear a mask. For other protocals please visit web site for details. #orlandoflorida #recordstores #vinylcollector #recordcollection #cratediggers #vinylcommunity
PYRAMID MUSIC - AUGUSTA, GEORGIA
Pyramid Music was opened in 1974 as a spinoff of Big G's Platter Shop by Jephrey Gordon and her husband Robert "Flash" Gordon (who was also a long-running, popular radio personality in Georgia for James Brown's WJBE and manager of James Brown Arena) and it was named after Jephrey's Ethiopian ancestors. Their daughter Noura Gordon now runs the store, and she has been able to preserve the store's original charm, as one frequent shopper told NewsChannel 6 in 2019: "They know who where the phenomenal performs back in the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s, that shaped our music culture. [The major retail] stores carry what’s on the popular music list. They don’t have the historical things we may be interested in." Pyramid carries rock, funk, hip hop, and more, and according to Gordon, they have the biggest gospel selection in the Southeast.
Jampac Records, OffBeat, DBS Sounds, Re-Runz Records, Moods Music, Better Days Records (West & East), Out of the Past Collectibles, JB's Record Lounge, and Brittany's Record Shop are all participating in Record Store Day 2020, which has been split up into three dates: August 29, September 26, and October 24. Check to see which local stores near you are going to have RSD exclusive titles available here.