Vinyl Stores Chicago – Where to go and what to look out for

Written by Ben W

I love vinyl since the first day I discovered an old record player at my grandparents attic. Now, I own over a dozen record players and I am always looking for gems like albums of vintage models.


We can all agree that vintage records aren’t too hard to find. There are record stores all around the globe that offer a wide list of products in their catalog. Now, is there anything special about record stores?

These venues aren’t just places where you go to buy your vintage CD. They’re a part of the actual living history and they often have a certain aura around them.

Chicago – A city of vintage treasures

There are several reasons why Chicago is a place where you should look out for your Vintage Records:

  • It’s swarming with prestigious record stores;

The whole point of this review is to get you acquainted with some of the best record stores in Chicago, and it’s swarming with them. The list of vinyl record stores is practically endless, as you can find them at nearly every corner.

  • You’ll get surprised every once in a while;

Most of the time, the most prestigious stores will be crowded with people that are searching for their CDs. Now, this usually means that some of the rarest records are out of stock or unavailable for any other reason, but that’s not a rule.

You should even consider visiting some of the “underground” stores (less known, not literally under the ground) as they have a tendency of hoarding some of the rarest CDs and vintage records.

  • Chicago Record stores usually host special themed events;

A record store wouldn’t be any different from the regular hardware store if they only sold their products. Some of the best record stores from Chicago are a host to special events. For instance, “Reckless Records” sometimes call renowned musicians to practice in their store.

  • Some of the biggest stars came from Chicago;

The distribution and the mixing of vintage records had nothing to do with the birthplace of these stars. However, it would definitely mean something if you purchased a record from a store where some of the biggest stars used to buy their records as well.

First of all, Muddy Waters, a famous jazz musician was from Chicago. Willie Dixon, the famous Styx, and James Young as well. Among the new-scene musicians we could name Rise Against, Ministry, Disturbed, and Andrew Bird.

Top 7 Vintage record stores to look out for in Chicago

Permanent Records

Permanent Records is one of the venues where you will feel like at home. The outside of the store is pretty urban, but welcoming. They have a logo that you can hardly miss, so you don’t have to worry about pinpointing their location.
Now, they are usually pretty crowded, and there are times when some of the locals organize a public gig, so it’s definitely dynamic with them. As their name implies, the Permanent Records are here to stay, and they boast quite a wide catalog of CDs and LPs.

Where can you find them?

Permanent Records can be located at 1914W Chicago Avenue right across the gap between the Wolcott and Winchester Avenues. They’re open from Monday to Sunday (from noon until 8 p.m.).

Shuga Records

Now, Shuga records are all about rock & roll lifestyle. Their interior is decorated with various graffiti spots, and they have a catalog of nearly 20000 vintage records. Their menu involves a wide variety of turntable models, posters, and more.
Even though their records are neatly stored in the organized rows, there are strong chances that some of the less-known (but gold) albums are still in their stock, so hipsters, get ready! They offer a special delivery for locals who order items beyond $100.

Where can you find them?

You can find the Shuga records in the Milwaukee Avenue 1272N right across the Paulina Street. They’re open from Monday to Sunday from 10 am to 8 pm.

Gramophone Records

Gramophone records is a small shop of vinyl records that is favored by professionals & amateurs alike when it comes to electronics. The main reason why people like them so much is because they offer a versatile stock of records that include the latest (and the oldest) records in disco, microhouse, dance, trance, techno, and similar electronics sub-genres.
Now, this shop is pretty small, so don’t be dissuaded by the size of this venue. Their menu is huge, so if you’re into electronic music, this might be the best place to search for your vinyl records.

Where can you find them?

Clark Street 2843 N across the Surf street is where you can find the Gramophone Records. You can take both the brown or purple 22 (or 76) buses to Diversey from the El stop to get there with the public transport.

606 Records

This record venue is a home for a vast catalog of vintage records. Their main focus is on the smaller labels (Exiles from Buenos Aires, for example), so if you’re into catching up to some fresh tunes, this might be a good place to start.
The house of 606 Records is pretty large when compared to a standard venue, so you could expect a lot of people to be there at all times, searching for their CDs. Their catalog includes a wide menu of turntables, various records, slipmats, and similar products.

Where can you find them?

Just across the 18th street is the Allport street (1808 S), and that’s just where the 606 Records are. Public transport Buses 9, 18 & 60 can take you there.

Laurie’s Planet of Sound

Laurie’s Planet of Sound will take you down the memory lane – 90’s kids and hipsters would be delighted to hear that this record store is outfitted with all the oldies, but it also has a lot of new-urban records in stock.
The interior design of Laurie’s Planet of Sound resembles that of the old-school record venue, and it’s safe to say that rock & roll lovers would feel at home here. You can find the iconic records and CDs here, but they also offer a wide array of action figures and pop culture toys.

Where can you find them?

This record venue is located in the 4639 Lincoln Avenue across the Eastwood & Leland Avenues.

Bucket O’ Blood Records

If the name of this venue didn’t catch your attention, the interior sure will. Bucket O’ Blood has a catalog which includes books of fantasy, horror, Sci-Fi, literary fiction, biographies, creative non-fiction, popular science, but you could also find the latest rock, metal, punk, and pop vinyl records.
The interior is simply amazing – lots and lots of books are stacked neatly on the manifold of shelves, records are stacked in rows, and it’s safe to say that this record venue is one of the best places to be when you want a vintage record.

Some of the reasons why people like them so much include their budget price books and records, and the melancholy (if not nostalgic) atmosphere. There are only a couple of venues which could be compared to Bucket O’ Blood when it comes to the price, but there are hardly any record stores which could top their catalog.

Where can I find them?

This vintage record store is located at the 3182 Elston Avenue across the California Avenue. Their working hours are from Monday to Sunday (from noon to 9 pm).

Pinwheel Records

Pinwheel records is the 1st vintage store that opened up in Pilsen, and they’ve been kicking for a couple of decades now. The interior of the Pinwheel Records building is quite plain – green walls are decorated with the posters from various artists, a long shelf houses the latest records, the rows of vintage CDs create a heartwarming aura, and the arcade machine sits quietly in the back.
Pinwheel records is the place to be if you’re out there searching for the latest vinyl records, but even hipsters and old-school people could find what they’re after here – the menu is big, and there’s something for everyone.

Where can you find them?

This record venue is located at the 1722 18th street, right across the Paulina Street.

The Final Verdict

We’ve already told you why Chicago is the best place if you want to browse for a vintage record, but which store is the best? It’s pretty hard to say. Now, the stores we’ve mentioned are all great, but it’d be nearly impossible to compare them between each other – some are big, some offer a wide catalog of products while some are quite cheap. Hit these venues and see for yourself if you happen to be in Chicago.

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