The Kingston guide to supporting your local record store

Supporting community businesses — and your vinyl collection

Against all odds, your vinyl record collection is having a second wind. 

Luckily, Kingston supports a small but solid community of physical music vendors to provide you with that warm crackle and pop reserved for vinyl recordings.

Physical music creates the opportunity to reach out to your local community in a way that’s impossible on a streaming site. Sure, it’s not based off a precise algorithm hatched in Silicon Valley to tell you what exact post-industrial-synth-pop revival artist is right for you, but the human touch of your local music geek goes a long way to finding music you love right here in Kingston.

Brian’s Record Option

Chances are you’ve walked by this hidden gem on Princess St. and thought it was a poster store thanks to its ambiguous window display. Well, it isn’t. There’s almost 80,000 records for sale crammed into this hole in the wall. It’s musty and intimidating and gives you the feeling of stepping into some kind of hipster music vault.

A Kingston staple since 1980, the owner Brian is the sort of expert you can only expect to become after owning a music store for 37 years. A proclaimed anarchist, Brian graduated McGill, set up shop and has been going steady ever since. Coming out of the Hub, Brian’s should be your first stop if you’re looking for musical expertise.

Zap Records

Zap Records is just steps away from Brian’s record haven and can be a less intimidating first step to creating your vinyl collection. The store is kept fairly organized and clearly delineates its genres so you’re unlikely to get lost in your search. Zap Records doesn’t have the same eccentric character as Brian’s but it’s worth a visit if you’re on a mission for specific records and want to get in and out fast. As a bonus, it has some solid sidewalk sales to keep an eye out for throughout the year.

Community garage sales

I’m not going to lie to you: Community garage sales can get weird. People apparently don’t throw things out – you’re going to find a lot of new age 70s albums featuring people lying down in a field on the cover. But that’s okay – you collect vinyl now, you’re cultured.

Nonetheless, these garage sales are probably the best opportunities to move beyond the classic college kid record collection choices and strike out on your own while talking to some non-students. For me, finding community sales is a great chance to pick up some classic Rock and Roll albums from Buddy Holly and BB King that I’m fairly certain are now out of print. There’s also a special kind of triumph in finding a rare record at the back of an old moving box at one of these things. Don’t let this chance to explore pass you by and keep your eyes peeled for posters advertising the next sale day.

Urban Outfitters

If you’re thinking of checking out the vinyl section at Urban Outfitters to add to your collection, just don’t. A lot of the joy from collecting vinyl is taking the time to talk to experts or fellow record lovers while also getting to know your musical community. For Urban, it’s on brand but you may as well just get whatever you’re looking for on Amazon and save yourself the trip.

Regardless, the goal here is to reconnect with the more personal parts of music. So if you must resort to a quick peek in stores like Urban due to curiosity or lack of creativity, their available collections will not musically disappoint.

Music is best when it’s shared and the best way to collectively appreciate it with fellow fanatics is to connect with the people in your community and beyond. There’s no better place to start than with your local vinyl nerds.

 


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