Melbourne: the home of trams, food trucks and record stores. This fair city has more vinyl stores per capita than anywhere else in the world and, nationally, record sales are up more than 300% compared to five years ago – a small win for old-school music consumers in the digital age.
The good news? You don't need to trawl through endless bargain bins and racks of rarities in the hope of finding a solid gold gem – here's The Urban List's handpicked guide to Melbourne's best record stores.
In many ways, Smith Street's The Searchers resembles a library. There are the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves crammed with pre-loved titles, the neatly maintained wall-to-wall record racks, and the communal bench encouraging customers to make themselves at home.
Open since 2008, the store has a diverse range of records (think punk, soul and disco) and a box devoted to homegrown favourites like Hoodoo Gurus and AC/DC. Prices are reasonable, and the in-store coffee machine churns out cuppas as good as any of The Searchers' neighbours.
The Searchers | 93 Smith Street in Fitzroy
It has been almost 30 years since Greville Records set up shop in a small split-level space on then-bohemian Greville Street. The street's gentrification since then needs no introduction – gone are the live music venues, replaced by cafes and boutiques – but Greville Records remains a staple of Melbourne's music scene. Amid the rare collectables, autographed tour posters and t-shirts, you'll find a comprehensive selection of new and second-hand LPs and 7"s, spanning the obscure and the obvious.
Greville Records | 152 Greville Street in Prahran
Image Credit: Greville Records Facebook.
Once a popular hangout in St Kilda, Record Paradise reopened its doors in an unassuming warehouse along the Upfield train line in early 2013. Owners Paul and Renee had the painstaking task of transporting more than 33,000 records from north to south, and the space they've created is spacious and comfortable.
One wall is dedicated to new vinyl (everything from Arcade Fire to Dick Diver) and another to classic artists: The Stones, Bowie et al. In between, there's a carefully curated selection on display – and thousands more titles away from public view, available on request. A word of warning: check opening hours before you go - the store is closed from Sunday to Tuesday.
Record Paradise | 15 Union Street in Brunswick
ROUND & ROUND RECORDS
Positioned among Sydney Road's bridal shops, Round & Round is a haven for fans of the unique. Instead of typical 'rock,' and 'metal' genres, the store's custom-built wooden racks house sections like 'art rock,' '20th century classical' and 'garage' (not to be confused with the separate 'grunge' section). There are plenty of bargains to be had, and it's a handy place to pick up record accessories like carrier bags and vinyl cleaner. You can listen to records before you buy, and take home a customised Round & Round Records slipmat to remember your visit by.
Round & Round Records | 513 Sydney Road in Brunswick
Image Credit: Round & Round Records Facebook.
RECORD COLLECTORS CORNER – MISSING LINK
In 2010, former Swanston Street occupants, Record Collectors Corner, moved into long-running punk and metal store Missing Link's Bourke Street premises. The store now features records from both businesses – making it perhaps the only record shop around where you can find German deathcore metal acts alongside 1980s commercial pop. Can't find that one title you crave? Sign up to the weekly e-newsletter, which lists newly arrived titles, so you won't miss it when it lands.
Record Collector's Corner – Missing Link | Level 1, 387 Bourke Street in Melbourne
Thornbury's Music Jungle gained a loyal following in the 1990s, before closing down and triumphantly re-opening in late 2009 (it's like a feelgood Hollywood movie!). You can't miss the huge tables of $5 and $10 CDs on High Street, but inside, the focus is on vinyl.
Everything from comedy to soundtracks is represented, alongside a superb range of Australian artists (think Paul Kelly and TISM), box sets and 7" singles. The regularly-updated bargain boxes on the floor are always worth a look and there's a small selection of used books and DVDs.
Music Jungle | 746 High Street in Thornbury
QUALITY RECORDS PLUS
You wouldn't think Malvern – in the heart of leafy suburbia – would be home to one of Melbourne's better-stocked record stores. Which makes Quality Records Plus all the more surprising. Alongside a range of entry-level turntables and related accessories, you'll find racks of records ranging from new to used, classic to contemporary. Staff are knowledgeable and friendly, and the store's website is constantly updated with lists of in-stock new and reissued titles. As for second-hand gems, you'll need to try your luck – but just between us, you won't be disappointed.
Quality Records Plus | 269 Glenferrie Road in Malvern
Image Credit: Polyester Records Facebook.
Polyester Records' two branches – Flinders Lane and Brunswick Street – remain two of the best stores in town for new vinyl shopping. You won't find anything second-hand here, rather sparkling heavyweight reissues of classic artists and a huge selection of modern-day indie, hip-hop and local LPs. The racks are easy to navigate, and sale bins in both stores warrant your attention. The Flinders Lane branch regularly hosts in-store performances and also houses a big selection of art books.
Polyester Records | 288 Flinders Lane in Melbourne and 387 Brunswick Street in Fitzroy
Main Image Credits: Girls with Vinyl Records