OK, I'm going to date myself: I still refer to CDs as albums, and a music store to me is still a "record" store. In fact, I still have my extensive LP (that's long player to you youngsters) collection sadly stacked in the garage. Even better, I have my collection of 45s (that's singles to you kids) which harken back to my youth.
Fast forward to today and now we see music downloads as the future, CD sales are dropping, and music stores are disappearing.
But believe it or not, the independent record store survives. Sure, they may be a bit more eclectic than back in the day, but they thrive nonetheless.
Here is my roundup of a few of the best local record stores that San Diego has to offer, which have a collection of timeless goodies plus some new, cool music.
Lou's Records in Encinitas is the king of record shops. If you're a fan of Amoeba Records in Los Angeles, then Lou's is your place. Whether you're looking for mainstream music or oldies, Lou's has it -- or can likely get it. The vinyl selection at Lou's Records will have old schoolers in memory heaven. Better yet, Lou's has the reputation of some of the most knowledeable music staff anywhere, and they often have live artist appearances.
434 N. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, (760) 753-1382
M-Theory started as a little shop in the Golden Hill/South Park neighborhood as a proverbial new kid on the block but the owners have old-school sensibilities by offering an eclectic mix of music, including local artists, in a cool and comfortable retail space.
M-Theory has since left Golden Hills for digs in Mission Hills but the owners and staff are still some of the most knowing and helpful around.
915 W Washington St (between 9th Ave & Goldfinch St), San Diego, (619) 220-0485
Record City is a great spot for bargain hunters due to its sale bins, where you can find that vinyl treasure you've been humming in your head.
Record City is pretty basic in its presentation, but who cares if you can just hunker down and flip through records, right?
3757 6th Ave (between Evans Pl & Robinson Ave), San Diego, (619) 291-5313
This beloved record store once housed in a bungalow in Normal Heights is the best place to find all the music that doesn't fall under "rock" or "popular." From folk to country to blues to Vaudeville, you'll find rare gems not only in LP format, but in 78 rpm as well. Folk Arts moved out of its former bungalow, but owner and archivist Lou Curtiss found another locations just down the street, still on Adams Avenue in Normal Heights.
2881 Adams Ave, San Diego, (619) 282-7833
If punk and ska are your musical leanings, then start at Taang Records. Yet another establishment in the Hillcrest/Mission Hills/NorthPark area, these purveyors of vintage punk definitely have the credibility among the devoted vinyl hounds. Even better, Taang is an actual record company, with its own stable of Taang artists. Very cool.
3830 5th Ave (between Robinson Ave & University Ave), San Diego, (619) 296-4015
Nickelodeon Records, in Normal Heights, is one of the quirkier record shops in town.
The place is owned by two women named Ruth and Elizabeth who know their music and are knowledgeable about records. Nickelodeon Records has excellent graders of condition and fair prices. You'll also find that unusual cover art is highlighted throughout the store, making for a fun browsing experience.
3335 Adams Ave (between 33rd St & Felton St), San Diego, (619) 284-6083
Edited by Gina Tarnacki on September 19, 2016.