Gathering grooves

    From Chicago blues to Chicago house, there’s nothing quite like blasting the jams of the past the way they were intended—using a needle and a groove. Whether you’re a trend-setting hipster hopping on the record bandwagon, a high-class audiophile or just a person who happens to own an old record player, here’s a guide to venturing into the city for a little vinyl visitation.

    Dusty Groove America
    1120 N. Ashland Ave.
    Division Blue Line Stop

    It might feel like getting to this store is a little bit of a trek, but if soul is what you’re looking for, there’s no better stop. Dusty Groove is on the smaller side, but bright and well-organized with plenty of room in between the aisles for comfortable perusal. The enormous soul music section fills almost the whole store, but the jazz and hip-hop sections hold their own. The prices for used records also run slightly cheaper than at Reckless, and seem to reflect someone’s personal taste — a Lil Wayne single was selling for a mere 89 cents.

    Dave’s Records Chicago
    6204 N. Clark St.
    Diversey Purple Line Stop

    Reckless Records. Photo by the author.

     Dave’s is a small record shop that, like the Jazz Record Mart, seems somehow more mature than the used record shops that cater to too-cool youths.  The walls are decorated with rare and pricey finds, and the store seems to specialize in new releases, reissues and vintage. This means higher prices, but also higher quality. Unlike many record stores, where you have to hope your used vinyl labeled “poor” quality isn’t too beaten up, Dave’s Records carries only three kinds of stickers — “new,” “light marks” and “not perfect condition.” Dave’s is also a purist’s store. It carries only vinyl, no CDs and boldly declares that it “never will.”


    Jazz Record Mart
    27 E. Illinois St.
    Grand Red Line Stop

    If jazz music is what gets your gramophone going, this place is a paradise. The Jazz Record Mart has existed in Chicago for more than 60 years and claims to be “the world’s largest, most complete jazz and blues shop.” It’s not hard to believe when you consider that the enormous store is filled almost exclusively with jazz records and CDs, with sections ranging from pre-World War II jazz to big band and Brazilian. The collection is impressive, but unfortunately so are their prices.


    Reckless Records
    3126 N. Broadway St. 
    Belmont Red Line Stop

    Start at Reckless Records’ Broadway Street location. This student favorite moved into a bigger space a few years back, and is a good stop for used records of all genres. Their giant rock section spans generations and styles, and it’s the city’s surest bet for records that might have a few scratches but cost a few dollars less, although the walls are decorated with rare finds that could set you back hundreds. Reckless has a decent collection of everything from rap and jazz to house and electronica, with a sizeable heavy metal section separate from the rest of the rock and pop. They also sell used CDs and DVDs if vinyl isn’t your thing. It’s almost impossible to leave without a bag in hand.

    2nd Hand Tunes
    800 Dempster St.
    Dempster Purple Line Stop

    2nd Hand Tunes used to be a citywide chain back in the day, until one by one all the locations were bought out (Dave’s is one example of a former 2nd Hand Tunes store). The location on Dempster was the only shop in the defunct chain to keep its original name. It’s conveniently located within walking distance of campus and has a diverse enough collection of new and used records to be an excellent first stop in the search for a particular find. Prices tend to run a few bucks cheaper than at many other stores, and it also sells CDs. Perhaps most importantly, it has a motorcycle in the front window.



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