D.C.’s record industry offers a variety of new and used records

By Carolyn Freeman

While shopping for a turntable and vinyl records seems about as relevant as wearing anti-Vietnam war buttons and bell-bottoms, the record industry in D.C. is still thriving.

Not only do local record stores offer musical gems and deals that blow iTunes out of the water, but shopping for records is also an experience in and of itself. Here are three great record stores for any vinyl lover.

Smash Records:

Smash Records specializes in punk records, but also sells a fair amount of modern indie records. Photo by Emily Baker.

This Adams Morgan shop boasts a good selection of moderately priced records. They mostly specialize in punk, especially from the D.C. scene, and classic rock, though there is also a decent selection of modern indie records. The records are almost all used, and range from about $5 for common LP’s to $40 for rare records. Smash also sells Converse, Vans and Doc Marten shoes in almost every size and color, as well as fairly priced vintage clothing and band shirts. The wall of DVD’s and books are sure to please almost anyone who loves music documentaries and novels. Unlike other D.C. stores, Smash also sells used turntables for around $80 each.

The major drawback of the store is the employees, who are stone-cold to anyone they perceive to be “mainstream.” Mention Top 40 music in front of them at your own risk. Overall, Smash is a good store for anyone with a modest record collection who is looking for other music-related novelty items.

Located on 2314 18th Street NW, Smash Records is open Monday to Thursday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Crooked Beat Records:

Crooked Beat is a haven for any record collector. It has a wide selection of records, ranging from Christmas LP’s to The Beatles to Skrillex. It also has rare and collectable records, but those don’t come cheap. An item like a Led Zeppelin BBC Broadcast record costs $60. Crooked Beat has around 5,000 new records and 34,000 used records in store, which is the biggest selection of any D.C. record shop. New records usually start at $20, which makes this store a little tougher on a high school budget. Used records are more reasonable, usually selling for under $20.

Crooked Beat has a wide collection of new and used records. The employees here are generally helpful and friendly, as opposed to at Smash Records. Photo by Emily Baker.

The employees at Crooked Beat are generally friendly, knowledgeable and happy to give costumers suggestions and help them discover music they might not have been drawn to automatically. Overall, Crooked Beat offers an amazing variety of records for a high price. This store is excellent for any serious vinyl enthusiast.

Located on 2116 18th St NW, Crooked Beat Records is open Monday from 1:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Red Onion Records and Books:

Located in Dupont Circle, this little store is the most budget friendly shop for a high school vinyl lover. Though the shop is a bit disorganized and doesn’t have a very extensive selection, any classic rock enthusiast will feel right at home in Red Onion. The store also sells a lot of local records, especially punk bands.

The shelf of free books is one of the perks of Red Onion Records and Books. The low prices won't be too tough on a high schooler's budget. Photo by Emily Baker.

One perk of the store is the shelves of random books that any customer can load up on for free. The low prices at Red Onion allowed me to walk away with a Rolling Stones 2 disc LP (though one of the discs was missing), a Sentridoh 7” single and a book all for only $5. The staff is approachable and friendly, and even other customers are happy to give music recommendations. This amiable neighborhood store is perfect for those looking to add inexpensive staples to their vinyl collection.

Located on 1901 18th Street NW, Red Onion Records and Books is open Monday through Saturday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.