The Best Record Stores In Washington, D.C.

© Fred Rockwood/Flickr
© Fred Rockwood/Flickr
Photo of Kate McMahon
17 October 2016

Didn’t you hear? Vinyl is cool again. It’s especially popular in Washington, D.C. as the city once hosted a vibrant punk rock scene decades ago.

Smash Records

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This record store retains its roots: it was once a staple of the 1980s DC punk scene, and its grunge atmosphere reflects the past. While changing locations a few times over the decades, the store remains the same with its unapologetic punk aesthetic and penchant for the era of Bowie. They also sell 1980s punk rocker attire, Doc Martens, and assorted memorabilia. To be cliché, they don’t make record stores like this anymore.

Red Onion Records

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This meticulously curated store offers everything from Queens of the Stone Age to local legend Fugazi. Red Onion Records also boasts an impressive world music collection from sounds produced across the globe. The staff is knowledgable about vinyls and attentive to your requests, and will bestow their knowledge upon you. There’s a used book section that chronologies the history of the music.

Joint Custody

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This secondhand store offers trendy vintage clothing and classic records. They flaunt an impressive collection of Zeppelin and The Smiths which never last long at other stores, but their stock is always, well, stocked. Their record selection is alphabetized, a rarity for vinyl selections, and the organization scheme makes seeking out specific artists that much easier. The moderate clothing selection represents the eras and looks from the time of vinyl.

Second Story Books & Antiques

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While technically a used book and antique store, its vintage finds include rare records on the right day. Offering a handful of vinyl crates tucked away, locals have discovered truly historic gems nestled amongst the selection – like autographed Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington records. This alluring store contains something for everyone.

The Record Exchange

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The Record Exchange is the mecca of all things retrograde. Cassette tapes, vinyls, VHS movies, and original video games line the store’s dusty shelves. The aroma of laminated cardboard creates a nostalgia for time past and the days of youth. The vinyl laminated floor feels too ideal to be real.