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The 9 Best Record Stores in Manhattan, NYC


Best Record Stores in Manhattan, NYC

Want to know where to find vinyl records in Manhattan, NYC? We’ve got you covered.

The streets of Manhattan are a soundtrack of their own. Cars whiz by, and people chatter about — a living, breathing ecosystem connected by the pursuit of dreams and the struggle with reality. A stroll through Times Square feels like you’re walking through the central nervous system of humanity, its tentacles pulsing throughout the rest of the globe. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere, New Yorkers sing to themselves, hopping into the only place on earth where yellow cabs still flourish.

This is all to say — these folks like their music.

The energy of New York City is unmatched by any other city on the planet. Whether that’s good or bad, we’re not here to say. But it drives a spirit of entrepreneurship and focuses on providing the best possible service or product imaginable. Because, simply, if you’re in New York, but you’re not the best, you won’t make it.

This ethos is reflected in the record store culture. Because it’s a naturally challenging business with tough margins, running a successful (and profitable) store in the streets of Manhattan can seem like a farce. After all, doesn’t it cost $5,000 to rent a tiny room with no windows in the basement of a 100-year-old building?

And yet, despite these realities, that powerful New York spirit perseveres and endures. In Manhattan, you’ll find some of the best and most eclectic record stores in the world. True characters of the city run these shops with musical knowledge deeper than the East River. Entering a store is as much about interacting with the staff as it’s about purchasing a record.

Like pizza shops, if you find a record store in Manhattan, it will be excellent. But if you don’t feel like wandering on your own, we’ve separated the best from the rest. Here are, in our opinion, the best record stores in Manhattan.

Generation Records

Generation Records: Best Record Stores in Manhattan NYC

Why It’s One of Manhattan’s Best Record Stores

Leather jackets and high-octane livin’ — that’s Generation Records in a nutshell. Cliche, sure, but they helped invent the cliche. This NYC institution has been around since 1992, providing the downtown scene with heavy metal, rock ‘n’ roll, and other rippers at good, reasonable prices for records sold in an unmatched vibe. This might be the quintessential record store in Manhattan, full of a surly yet friendly staff ready to talk to you about AC/DC deep cuts but who will happily sell you the new Billie Eilish album. Do yourself a favor and head to Generation.

Getting There

21 Thompson Street
New York, NY 10012

A-1 Records

NYC's Best Record Stores: A-1 Record Shop

Why It’s One of Manhattan’s Best Record Stores

A-1 Records is a classic New York City record store that’s been a staple of the East Village scene for decades. These guys not only have an incredible selection of funk, R&B, and hip-hop, but the shop has an incredible, infectious vibe. Walk in on a breezy Saturday, and maybe they’re spinning some iconic rap from the early 90s or perhaps a long lost J Dilla mixtape. A-1 Records exudes taste, the type of place that makes you appreciate what NYC offers the world.

Getting There

439 E. 6th Street
New York, New York 10009

Academy Records & CDs

Academy Records: Record Stores in Manhattan

Why It’s One of Manhattan’s Best Record Stores

It doesn’t get more New York than Academy Records. The institution started back in the ‘70s, specializing in used and rare vinyl, jazz, blues, and soul. With Manhattan locations on 12th Street, 18th Street, and Brooklyn, Academy Records has a bit of a monopoly on NYC’s record store scene. Find your way there on an afternoon with cash to spend and prepare to get lost for hours in the piles and piles of vinyl, CDs, tapes, posters, VHS, DVDs, and other memorabilia.

Getting There

12 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011

415 E 12th St,
New York, NY 10009

Downtown Music Gallery: Best Manhattan Record Stores

Why It’s One of Manhattan’s Best Record Stores

Trying to find a hub of experimental and underground music in New York? Look no further than Downtown Music Gallery, Manhattan’s coolest record store. Here, the shelves are lined with avante-garde, experimental jazz, free improvisation, and other left-field genres. Sure, you can pick up a new release — and you should — but on your visit, don’t be shy to chat up the staff. The record store has been open since 1991 (originally in the East Village), making it one of the longest running record shops in New York, and the owners offer a deep well of musical knowledge. Get lost in conversation about… well, whatever you want! And that’s not all, as the store provides live music programming, showcasing off-the-beaten-path local artists. A genuine New York experience awaits at Downtown Music Gallery.

Getting There

13 Monroe Street
New York, NY 10002

Limited To One

Limited To One: Best Manhattan Record Stores

Why It’s One of Manhattan’s Best Record Stores

A bit of a new kid on the block, Limited To One is just over five years old. But during this time, it’s already become one of New York’s best record stores. The store specializes in rare records focused on punk rock, indie, hip-hop, hardcore, pop-punk, and 90s alternative. Each member of the staff is extremely knowledgeable and friendly, bucking the stereotype of a grumpy record store worker with tattoos. Head to this cozy destination record shop for limited edition vinyl releases and rare merch. It’s a store of well-curated, endless discovery.

Getting There

221 East 10th Street – Basement West
New York, NY 10003

Rock and Soul

Rock and Soul: Best Manhattan NYC Record Stores

Why It’s One of Manhattan’s Best Record Stores

Rock and Soul is a legendary New York record store. It’s been the go-to spot for DJs across the city since the business started back in the mid-70s. Here, you not only have endless crates of R&B and soul records ripe for digging but the ability to buy some of the best DJ equipment in NYC. It’s a family-run joint that’s lasted through the years, providing quality service in both music and equipment to heads for decades. In a rapidly changing city, Rock and Soul stands tall, a beacon of the best of what Manhattan has to offer. Find your way to this shop and you’ll feel like you’re walking through the movies.

Getting There

10 W 37th Street
New York, NY 10018

Rough Trade NYC

Rough Trade NYC: Best Manhattan NYC Record Stores

Why It’s One of Manhattan’s Best Record Stores

When Rough Trade — the iconic record store and label from London — came to America a few years back, they opened a massive location in Brooklyn, immediately shifting the record store scene in all five boroughs. It was almost like a megastore for vinyl. Walk in, and find pretty much anything you could think of. Then, during the pandemic, the temple of indie rock moved across the river to a new location in Manhattan, and they’ve continued their dominance. On top of a huge selection of vinyl, Rough Trade offers a range of programming, from in-store performances to meet-and-greets with musicians. Head to Midtown like a tourist and stop by this pulsing hub for music fandom.

Getting There

30 Rockefeller Plaza, 6th Avenue, btw 49 &, W 50th St,
New York, NY 10112

In Living Stereo

In Living Stereo: Manhattan's Best Record Stores

Why It’s One of Manhattan’s Best Record Stores

The best record store for audiophiles in New York City is In Living Stereo. Or, at least, that’s what we think right now. Here in Lower Manhattan, you’ll find experts in finding the highest quality sound. They sell the top hifi equipment you can buy and have a great selection of used records and HiFi vinyl. But the real treat is the showroom. Book an appointment, ask to hear some of your favorite music, drench yourself in sound, and you’ll never approach music the same again. For real audiophiles only.

Getting There

2 Great Jones Street
New York, NY 10012

Westsider Records

Westsider Records: Manhattan's Best Record Stores

Why It’s One of Manhattan’s Best Record Stores

Westsider Records is truly a hidden gem of New York City. Located on the Upper West Side, it’s been selling used vinyl and books since the 1950s. Yeah, you read right — over half a century! In some ways, Westsider Records is kind of like the Seinfeld of New York record stores. It’s lasted through the years as a vital member of the community, serving the music needs of the wild and eccentric characters you can only find in Upper Manhattan. Their selection of classic rock records might be one of the best in the world.

Getting There

233 West 72nd Street
New York, NY 10023

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