Where to Buy Vinyl Records in the East Bay
The East Bay's vinyl scene is thriving.
Oakland’s Second Line Vinyl manufactured the double-vinyl soundtrack to Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk.
Photo by Nick Winkworth
When the Recording Industry Association of America reported that vinyl records and other physical formats of music outsold digital downloads in 2017—and called vinyl a revenue-generating “bright spot” for the industry—it came as little surprise to the East Bay’s sizable community of audiophiles. In fact, an Internet search of “East Bay record stores” produces an abundance of options for music fans who have never accepted the idea that vinyl is going the way of the antiquated eight-track. As longtime record collector and Oakland resident Pat Libby puts it: “When people say, ‘Vinyl is back,’ I always think, Where have you been?”
Zane Howard, the founder and chief executive officer at Second Line Vinyl—the first vinyl-record manufacturing plant to operate in Oakland since 1937—shares that sentiment. Howard believes that digital music has deprived fans of “the physical experience vinyl provides” and anticipates vinyl sales will double over the next five years.
For veteran and novice collectors who appreciate the ritual of vinyl—wiping the dust from a record, placing a tangible piece of music on the turntable, and listening to a collection of songs in the order the artist intended—here are a few of the many local shops that can assist in building (or rebuilding) your personalized vinyl collection.
Up the Creek Records
With the tagline “Brand new old-world goods,” this Walnut Creek boutique—which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary—offers mostly new vinyl with a focus on Americana, folk, indie rock, and country. Owner Nic Taylor’s store also regularly hosts intimate live shows and features an eclectic selection of books, clothing, art, and jewelry. upthecreekrecords.com.
One Bad Apple Records
Although this Castro Valley shop is tiny, it’s filled with nearly 20,000 titles on vinyl, CD, cassette, and—believe it or not—eight-track. Owner Don Scialpi maintains a wish board of customer requests, providing a valuable resource for collectors. The store is also home to legendary local radio DJ Mike Nelson’s No Name’s Record Room—a KFOG.com and YouTube series that highlights Bay Area artists. facebook.com/onebadapplerecords.
1-2-3-4 Go! Records
The impressive growth of owner Steve Stevenson’s record shop is indicative of vinyl’s increasing popularity. Just four years after its 2008 Oakland debut, 1-2-3-4 Go! moved from a 160-square-foot space to its current 2,100-square-foot home in the burgeoning Temescal neighborhood. (A second location opened in San Francisco in 2015.) The store specializes in new and used rock, punk, indie, and pop LPs but also carries a wide mix of genres ranging from metal, to jazz, to country, to hip-hop—and the Oakland outpost frequently hosts live performances. 1234gorecords.com.
The Trailblazers on Telegraph
Berkeley’s music meccas have charmed generations of crate-diggers.
Two of California’s seminal independent music chains got their start in the East Bay. With 10 locations today—including one in Pleasant Hill—Rasputin Music opened its first shop on Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue in 1971 and has provided an expansive variety of vinyl records and other music formats ever since. Its neighbor Amoeba Music—which launched on Telegraph in 1990—now has three outposts (including a mega-popular spot in Hollywood) that are hailed globally as music institutions. Amoeba’s massive San Francisco operation regularly carries 100,000 vinyl, CD, and cassette titles. rasputinmusic.com, amoeba.com.