With major concert venues shuttered this summer, I had to find other ways to pass the time and nurture my love of music. I have been a collector of vinyl records for 40 years, and while many records have been lost, worn out or absconded by my kids, I still have a sizeable collection.
This summer I made the rounds to my favorite record stores in the Niagara region, and even discovered a couple of new ones along the way.
While it may be tempting to just go online and order an album, there is nothing quite like the experience of perusing through stacks of records to find a hidden gem from a band you saw in your youth. In recent weeks, I have purchased rare albums by Wilmer and the Dukes, Off Broadway USA and Cheater. I also bought newly released live albums from The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers on Record Store Day.
If you are considering dusting off your record player and picking up some records, here are a few of my favorite record stores in the area in no particular order.
• Revolver Records carries an incredible selection of new and used vinyl records. There are two locations, one on Hertel Avenue and one on Elmwood in Buffalo. The Elmwood location is a personal favorite; I have never been able to leave there without finding something in the new arrivals. Their used records are always reasonably priced as well.
• Bob the Record Guy has a great vintage vinyl store on Transit Road in Depew. Every Saturday he puts up pictures of new arrivals on his Facebook page, and if you message Bob, he will hold items for you. The store has a great selection of used records and if you are a progressive rock fan you will definitely find some great and rare stuff. Bob is also one of the most knowledgeable guys when it comes to Buffalo-area music history. I always learn something new from him whenever we start talking music, and he has even inspired a few of my weekly columns.
• Hi-Fi Hits on Main Street in Williamsville fast became one of my favorite places to shop. It is a really spacious and comfortable place to shop. They have a nice collection of classic rock vinyl, both new and used. They also have a good selection of compact discs and rock band t-shirts.
• Vinny’s Vinyl Record Shop came highly recommended to me by a friend. I checked them out for the first time a few weeks ago and for a little record shop, they have a huge selection of records. Grateful Dead vinyl records are notoriously hard to find but Vinny’s has an unbelievable selection of hard-to-find Grateful Dead stuff.
• Rising Sun is a hidden gem in the Eastern Hills Mall. They have a massive selection of collectables in the front of their store, but they also have an impressive selection of used vinyl records in the rear of the store. There are a few different vendors, so you can spend hours perusing the racks. I have found many albums there that I couldn’t find on eBay or Discogs.
While nothing can replace the feeling of being at a live concert, vinyl records create a unique and enjoyable music experience. Moreover, when you buy your vinyl records locally you are supporting business owners in the community.
Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.