Posted by: Nick | March 25, 2009

Vinyl Buying Guide: Louisville Edition

For those of you who enjoy vinyl, I’ve put together this local buying guide.  One of the best parts for me about of being a vinyl collector is the joy of the hunt.  In the last week, I bought all of the vinyls above used and most of them for only a few bucks.  I’ve been looking for Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” for a while now (not wanting to drop the $25 bucks+ it is selling for new) and found it today at the Used Book & Music Exchange for $1.98 in great condition.  In return for this info, I ask that you let me know if you find any Tom Waits, Nick Drake, Nina Simone or Leonard Cohen albums.  Lets get to it…

Where to Buy New

Some albums just are not old enough to find themselves on the used shelves, so you have to bite the bullet and drop the dime to buy it.  For all intensive purposes, there are only two places in town to buy new records.

ear x-tacy

1534 Bardstown Rd
Louisville, KY 40205
(502) 452-1799

ear x-tacy recently moved their vinyl collection downstairs and beefed up the selection.  On most occasions, you will be able to find what you are looking for and if you can’t, they will order it for you (at no extra charge).  Their prices are reasonable to what you would find on-line, and sometimes even better after you take shipping into account.  Their organization is good, but sometimes it is tough to distinguish what would fall under “Indie” and what would be “Rock/Pop.”  I generally browse both sections anyway, so it isn’t a big deal.  If you are into hip-hop, they have a pretty extensive collection, including a bunch of Tribe albums.  They also have an average collection of used vinyl.  For the used records, they are asking for an average of $6 or $7 bucks and you can find the same for much cheaper at other stores (see below).  Bottom line, ear x-tacy is a great option for new vinyl.  You will most likley be able to find what you are looking for and be able to buy it at an affordable price.  A

Underground Sounds

2003 Highland Ave
Louisville, KY 40204
(502) 485-0174

Underground Sounds is right around the corner from my house, so I make a visit there 3 or 4 times a week.  Though much smaller than ear x-tacy, they also have a very good selection (in fact, I bought Animal Collective’s MPP there when ear x-tacy was out).  Their prices are a bit higher, but never more than a dollar or two, and still often less than certain online options.  It takes a bit of time to get your bearings, but once you do, there are plenty of gems to be found.  On one side, you can find releases from the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  On another, you will find rows and rows of popular music, plenty of indie releases and a very good Jazz/Blues section.  Tucked under standing CD shelves, are a ton of hip-hop, R&B/Soul, and Reggae records.  Displayed on the walls are a few vinyl selections, often new releases or interesting vintage options for sale.  On the floor along two walls are used vinyls; buy 1 get 1 free.  They range in price, but average around $5 bucks.  I’ve bought a few used vinyls here, but never have been too successful.  The best part of Underground Sounds is its people.  Almost in a High Fidelity nature (minus the snottyness), each employee has an ultra-understanding of their catalog and a passion for music.  From a nostolgic recount of a concert from the 70s in Louisville, to current copyright laws, to a simple recommendation based on the records I was holding, Underground Sounds embodies the reason I like buying records (as opposed to downloading online).  A+

Where to Buy Used

Book and Music Exchange (and Half Price Books) has a number of locations in Louisville.  I would say that over half of the vinyls I own came from one of their stores.  See below for details on each:

1616 Bardstown Rd, Louisville, KY‎ – (502) 454-3328‎

The Bardstown Road store is my third favorite of the four I know with vinyl.  While it normally has the most vinyl of the any of the stores, I’m guessing it gets picked over the most.  Their “premium” used vinyls go for an average of $3 to $7 bucks, with a few popular items ranging from $10-20.  I actually saw Nirvana’s In Utero there a few days ago for $30 (on yellow vinyl).  They also have an extensive “bargain bin” with oldies but goodies for 50 cents to $1.  It is definitely worth stopping by every other week to check on new arrivals.  B+

5400 Preston Hwy # C, Louisville, KY‎ – (502) 969-4403‎

This location has only a small collection of vinyl.  They average $10 bucks or more and most of them you can find cheaper at other locations.  What they do have is displayed high on their walls and surrounds the store.  I’ve bought one Bowie album here, but never went back because of the poor selection and inflated prices.  Skip this one.  D

2025 S Hurstbourne Pkwy, Louisville, KY

I make a weekly stop to this location.  They have a very good selection, organized well and decently priced.  You can find classic records for $5 to $8 bucks and a whole bunch are even cheaper.  Every once in a while you can find a “rare” vinyl for $10 to $20 (I found The Beatles’ Revolver two weeks ago).  They also have the same “bargain bin” deals as above.  I rate this location a bit higher for the fact that the quality of their collection is consistently better.  Also, be sure to stop in for their Vinyl Nights every Friday night.  All records are 20% off.  A

10220 Westport Road, Louisville, KY
This one is a bit of a haul (out by the Tinseltown Movie Theatre), but it is definitely worth stopping in at least every other week.  Their set-up is very similar to the Hurstbourne store.  You can always find something worth buying and the prices are basically the same as the other stores.  They also have a Friday Vinyl Night (5pm-9pm), with records 20% off.  A-


The Great Escape

2433 Bardstown Rd
Louisville, KY 40205
(502) 456-2216

The Great Escape has become a new stop on my vinyl hunt.  Amidst all the tons of comics offered there are a bunch of great used vinyls.  The main section has used vinyl for $2-10 bucks, but the selection is very good and you are bound to find a few gems.  My only problem with the main section is that it is not alphabetized, so I have to go through it all each time.  They also have one of the largest “bargain” sections in Louisville.  Shelves and shelves of vinyl, categorized alphabetically (ironically, all of the other “bargain” sections are not in alphabetical order), range from $1-$4 bucks.  Plan for a few hours to get through all of their vinyl on your first visit. A-

Highland Records

1617 Bardstown Rd # 2, Louisville, KY‎ – (502) 451-8805

An older gentleman runs this record store.  The store only sells vinyl and keeps very short hours.  It is a small shop and kept in relatively alphabetical order.  There is also a line of boxes on the floor in no certain order.  Prices are decent, but average around $10 bucks.  It is fun to browse around, but it is hard to find what you are looking for.  That said, if you stop by the Bardstown Road Book and Music Exchange, I’d recommend stopping into Highland Records, just for the experience.  Every other visit, you may just find something to take home.  B

Electric Ladyland

2325 Bardstown Rd
Louisville, KY 40205
(502) 458-4259‎

Electric Ladyland has a very good collection of vinyl but it is all overpriced.  It is not just a little overpriced, but a lot overpriced.  After browsing all of the other used vinyl shops, you will see the same vinyl there for twice the price.  If you like Jazz albums, they have a pretty good selection, so it may be worth your while to stop in.  I go every other month or so, just to check in.  C+

Antique Malls

Flea Markets

Where to Buy Online

Insound

Insound is THE place to buy vinyl online.  The key is knowing when to buy.  First, if you absolutely can’t wait to get the album and your local shop doesn’t have it in (or their supplier is back-ordered), then shell out the cash and use Insound.  If the album is in-stock, it is at your door in a few days.  Second, you may find a better price.  Sign up for their Vinyl Newsletter and they will give a) immediately give you 10% off your next purchase and keep you in the loop on future deals.  Sometimes, particularly during the holiday season, they will also throw in free shipping on orders over a certain amount of money ($50 bucks or so).  Combine the 10% off with free shipping and you are golden.  They don’t get a perfect score because their return policy is pretty lame.  First you have to email one of their employees and spell out all this information…then wait for them to email you back a code… then ship it back to them…then wait for them to ship a new one to you.  For your trouble, they may give you 15% off your next purchase (if you ask).   A


Best Buy

Best Buy may have a few vinyls in-store, but they are normally the “exclusive” releases and are hardly worth browsing.  I’ve ordered a few records from them on-line and have had a so-so experience.  They have over 8,000 records in their catalog, but you have to be sure to check the availability before you order.  If you see one that says 1-2 weeks or back-ordered, I’d pass.  I’ve tried to buy a few of those, thinking that the price is good enough that I can wait, and was later refunded my money because they couldn’t get it in-stock.  Otherwise, even with shipping, the prices are competitive, so it is worth checking out.  That said, I’d use it as a last option in your hunt.  B-

You guys know how to use eBay, so I’m not going to say much on this one.  I’ve had many very positive experiences buying vinyl on eBay.  A few things to consider.  1) Always look at the sellers rating and consider carefully how the seller has judged the condition of the album; 2) Sometimes the album you are looking at can be found cheaper new (be sure to double check); 3) With more and more reissues every day, if you are not buying as a “collector,” you may be able to save some cash by just waiting for the new pressing (and it will probably be on 180 gram). 4)  Always test the vinyl before leaving positive feedback (you may not be able to return it, but you sure as hell can help keep people from buying from a seller rating trash, “near mint.” A-

Craigslist

I’ve seen vinyl listed on craigslist, but it is always random and overpriced.  I’ve never used craigslist to buy vinyl (only missed connections) and it isn’t for lack of hunting.  D

Amazon.com has a pretty good selection of vinyl and their prices are all competitive, especially if you get the “SuperSaver Shipping.”  They also have a decent selection of used vinyl (often overpriced).  That said, I have had my best success with amazon.com when buying UK releases that haven’t come out in the US yet.  I bought my brother Late of the Pier’s debut, Fantasy Black Channel, months before its US release and, with shipping, it was less than $30 bucks.  Give it an occasssional browse.  B+

Where to Get Info On Vinyl

Here are a few sites that will help you in your hunt…

If you have any tips or suggestions, please comment and share, I would love to hear them.

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Responses

  1. I buy a lot of vinyl at the flea markets on 7th st. I’ve picked up everything from a Last Poets record to George Jones.

  2. Is Highland Records ever open? Seems like every time I wander by, it’s closed.

  3. It is something like M-Sa from 10-6. Not positive, but very short hours.

  4. I forgot about the flea markets. Good call. I found a few at the big flea market out at the Fair Grounds this year. Also, there are a few antique shops that have decent selections (there is one on Broadway).

  5. As much as I used to love Ear-X-Tacy, their vinyl selection is basically everything you could get online but more expensive. Locally, from what I’ve seen, Underground Sounds is the place to buy local…great knowledgeable staff and smart balance between contemporary and classic records ranging all genres.

  6. Depending on what kind of stuff you’re looking for, http://www.deadformat.net is a great resource for finding out info about vinyl releases.

    Not sure if that clear pink “Behold, I Shall Do a New Thing” seven-inch from Atom and His Package is the first or second pressing? Don’t know which color of the first pressing for Against Me’s “Cavalier Eternal” seven-inch is more limited, the gold, green, or translucent blue?

    Well, deadformat.net can take care of you.

  7. Sometimes Best Buy will run a special on big new releases and have them at $13 when they’re over $20 everywhere else. And they have free shipping. That said, it can be really slow.

  8. RE: Highlands Records

    The same guy runs a booth at the Simpsonville flea market, which is why his store is never open on the weekends. His booth has a great selection, but not the Bardstown Rd. prices.

  9. For more rare vinyl finds, Dusty Groove is the jam

  10. Half Price Books has used vinyl. One location on Westport Road near Springhurst, the other on Hurstbourne near Stoneybrook. Most of their stuff is $8 or less, except for “collectibles.” Clearance records are 50 and 25 cents, if you’re willing to sit on a foot stool and slog through it all. Fridays from 5 to 7 pm all vinyl is 20% off

  11. Ope. Sorry didn’t see that you had lumped Half Price in with Book & Music. Sorry for redundancy. Delete my comment.

  12. as far as ordering online, tower records is the place to go. Tower.com has lots of vinyl for under 20 bucks, and if you go over 20 it’s free shipping, so just get a few at a time. I gotta warn you tho, they’re not shipped in the greatest packaging, i’ve had a few records show up with dented corners

  13. Read your recommendations a few weeks ago as I am getting back into the vinyl game. I’ve always been a fan but just now got the player back out and a decent audio setup. Anyways, just wanted to say thanks for the post/blog, got me started in the right step. Second thing is I do have some leonard cohen: Live Songs and Songs from a room is you wanted to maybe trade or buy. One love

    Gus

  14. Our Friends of the Library has had a lot of old vinyl donated. a cursory glance : country, classical, and other. Not sure of the condition, but would love to sell the lot to someone. Contact me at 812-752-7541.

  15. It is an amazing and great informative blog… I really love to read some more! – xploder

  16. This is the most informative sight I’ve seen on vinyl records. I’ve visited 95% of these venues in an effort to sell my R&B collection of over 2500 hundred albums. They want some what I have, however, I want to sell my whole collection, are there any collectors out there interested in buying a personal collection, or a sight that list collectors?


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