Record Stores: Where to Begin Around Town


Raynah Jacobs

Detroit Record Club, Royal Oak

For decades, vinyl records have allured melomaniacs and devoted room-decorators, but just recently they have made a comeback into the lives of many American teenagers. From 1993-2019, record sales have skyrocketed, increasing by 560% ( BHS students have also been partaking in this sudden trend. However, the world of music is not an easy one to navigate. With over a thousand genres of music and millions of bands to choose from, knowing the right places to look for your specific needs can be a helpful start.

There are about six record stores within a five-mile-radius of Berkley, and I visited all six of them. At each of the stores I scouted the inventory, and made note of which music genres were most abundant. I also interviewed the stores’ present staff and owners to get a firsthand account about the stores general inventory and its specific allure. This is what I found:

I first went to UHF on Washington Ave., in Downtown Royal Oak. The store’s hardcore rock and metal inspired decor lends itself to a rather cool and dark vibe inside. Although this decor was slightly intimidating for a seventeen year old girl, I thought it was a pretty interesting place to visit. One reason for this was that they have much more than just records. I have shopped there before, and have always thought that they have a reasonably diverse selection of music. They normally provide plenty of options that peak my interest, taking into consideration that my music preference ranges primarily from 60’s to 90’s rock and alt rock.

When I spoke with an employee there, I inquired whether or not their store’s selection was more heavily populated with one genre than another. To this he responded “no,” saying that they have a “pretty wide selection of everything.” Thus, I was all the more eager to put this claim to the test and see how diverse their selection really was. To my surprise, his claim was entirely true. I would say, similar to most record stores, they had the largest assortment in jazz and rock albums. However, they also had a very nice selection of current rap and pop music, as well as some blues, R&B, and others. Aside from this, the store was very diverse in terms of products. They had a very large display of books of all different genres, loads of CD’s, some very cool patches and pins, and they even had a vending machine in the front. Although it seems like the store’s selection is curated specifically for metal heads or hardcore rock fans, if you are looking for either a new or old popular album, you would be able to find it here.

Next I visited a newer, hipster esque, record store: The Detroit Record Club, located on Woodward Ave. in Royal Oak. I have personally always liked the vibe of this store; it is a refreshing change from the gloomy feel that record stores tend to have. A majority of the outward facing wall is taken up by windows which take advantage of the great sunlight that the store gets due to its location. In addition to the naturally occurring bright atmosphere, there are also some pleasant decorations around the store such as lamps, plants, and unique record holders which really add to the store’s contemporary essence. The employees are always very friendly and helpful. And as for their music selection, it is quite small compared to some of the other stores. However, as mentioned by the owner Dave Ahearn during my interview with him, they have some very special things that set them apart from other record stores. For example, they always have some special limited edition records on hand. Ahearn told me, “many times people will come in looking for records they’ve been after for years, and they’ll be able to find them here.”

Detroit Record Club, Royal Oak (Raynah Jacobs)

They also carry a pretty wide range of music. They have a wide variety of jazz music, lots of classic rock, new wave rock, and other rock subgenres of rock, as well as a decent amount of newer pop and rap albums, and lots of classics like Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Frank Sinatra, and Johnny Cash. Another unique thing about their store is that before any of the records are put out for sale, they all go through a very thorough cleaning process. Essentially all their records are put through an ultrasonic cleaning machine which removes any buildup between the grooves of the record which enhances the sound quality noticeably.

Anyone who visits the store can expect to find helpful workers, rare vinyls, and used vinyls that are in shockingly great quality. The store is perfect for anyone who’s looking for a fun experience. In comparison to other stores, the small boutique is not intimidating, so it is a great place for beginners to start. Furthermore, it is an ideal spot for serious record collectors to visit, as it is a promising place to find those more sought-after vinyls.

I then went to Solo Records on Woodward Ave. in Royal Oak. I had not visited this store in a while, and I was unsure of what to expect. But when I stepped inside, I was quickly reminded of the greatness of the store. I was greeted by an overwhelming array of all things music. From stereo systems and record players, to VHS Tapes, to CD’s, compact discs, movies, books, random knick knacks, and some great band tees–one of which I bought on my last visit there, and have since worn way more than is socially acceptable– I guess you could say they pretty much have it all.

Solo Records, Royal Oak (Raynah Jacobs)

They have a very unique selection of music. As judged by one of their managers Amanda Schaule, their largest selection of records fall under the genre of old classic rock, and their newer classic rock collection comes in close second in size. However, they also have a pretty impressive selection of obscure genres that you couldn’t really expect to find elsewhere. This includes various ethnic and religious genres like Russian Classics, or Israeli/Jewish fan favorites. They also have some more well known titles with albums and CD’s from the Beatles, Elton John, Madonna, and a wide variety of jazz music. I also saw a few albums from well-known rap and pop groups. However, they predominantly carry used records, therefore they do not have many newer albums.

Additionally, one notable feature of their store was their enticing deals. Vinyls nowadays generally cost something around fifteen to thirty dollars, yet the majority of their records cost between two to twenty dollars, making it very hard to leave the store empty handed. As stated by Schaule, “we try to keep our prices as low as we can,” and I can confirm that they have done a great job with that. While their store is not as close as some of the others, I would say their store is well worth the commute. If you are looking for some novelty items, or to immerse yourself in all that the world of rock has to offer, this would be the place for you.

Next, I visited a small record store which I thankfully stumbled upon a few weeks ago. The record store, Street Corner Music, on Greenfield Road in Oak Park, is a smaller, less in-your-face establishment. The lowkey vibe of the place has an almost soothing effect. They have a few DVD’s, some cassette tapes, a small selection of T-shirts, a very wide selection of CD’s and Vinyls, as well as few neat “listening stations” where–in a post-covid world–customers could presumably test out the stores CD’s and/or cassette tapes before buying them. While speaking with the owner Chris Flanagan, he mentioned that their widest selection of records probably fall under the genres of jazz, rock, and R&B, as well as a lot of blues. Just by walking around the store one could easily deduce for themselves that the store is most heavily populated with such genres. Although, of course, they did still have a selection of other genres such as hip hop, current pop, and classical music.

Street Corner Music, Oak Park (Raynah Jacobs)

During my interview with Flanagan, I also asked him what made his store special. To this he responded, “If you come in with a question we will put in a genuine effort to answer it, and hopefully sell you something fitting in the process. Also, if a customer comes in asking for something they’ve been looking for forever, we just really try to be of service. Because you know everyone’s selling records, so if you wanna offer customers something that will set you apart from the other stores, you can offer your help.” I then inquired about the large selection of stereo systems and record players at the back of the store. Through answering my question I was shown first hand the diligence that Flanagan had just described. He kindly explained the process by which the store improves and tests all sound systems that they buy in order to ensure the best quality systems for their customers. He also pointed out the low prices at which he was able to sell the systems, explaining how he doesn’t believe one needs a fancy system in order to get great sound quality. In my time spent there I was able to learn a lot about the record business from the owner, and I was also able to find a lot of my favorite artists’ records while also discovering some cool new artists. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting, and the employees I talked with surely made my trip all the more worthwhile. I think Street Corner Music is a great place for all to visit. They provide a great selection of many different genres of music, both old and new, and they also offer a lot of help to anyone who may need it.

Lastly I went to one of my personal favorites, Found Sound, on Nine Mile in Ferndale. There are many reasons why I would recommend visiting here, but one primary reason is the atmosphere of the place. Their store is completely filled with all sorts of wall decorations, and random purchasable items, which made it very challenging for me to curate a list of their general inventory. They definitely have mostly records, but they also have a large section at the back of their store filled entirely with DVD’s. Aside from that, they also have some cool t-shirts, books, a pretty large selection of action figures, posters, and a little pocket on the side of their store where they keep a whole bunch of cool and random things like live photographs of your favorite artists, tote bags, record and CD accessories, and more. On top of this, out of all of the stores, they probably have the fullest selection of records; they carry almost any genre you can think of. As the store’s part-owner Ray Haysoh put it, “We’re pretty wide range, we sell a lot of indie and new alt rock, jazz, hip-hop, electronic, current pop and R&B stuff, and of course all of the classics too like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd…” He continued on, but I think his point is clear: if it is a classic that you want, they probably have it. He also mentioned that what makes them so special is that they “have a little bit of everything.” They have definitely made an effort to cram as much eye candy into every nook and cranny as possible which certainly adds something extra special to the experience of visiting. The fun and lively atmosphere of the store, along with the vast selection of music from all eras, and genres, makes Found Sound a great place to shop. Anyone who is remotely interested in music should definitely pay them a visit, as the store has much more to offer than just records.

Found Sound, Ferndale (Raynah Jacobs)

All in all, I had a great time visiting all of the stores and getting to speak with all the cool people who either owned them or worked there. Music can be very overwhelming, but going back to the basics and connecting to music through its original listening mechanism, the record, is a great way to start. Whether you are looking to indulge in the authentic listening experience, or just looking to admire the beautiful covers of some records, record stores offer a means for you to do either. From a basic reliable place like UHF, to places like The Detroit Record Club and Solo Records where you can endeavor on hunts for more treasured albums, or spots like Found Sound and Street Corner Music which offer you unique and special experiences, there is truly something out there for everyone. So I will leave you with something Mr. Flanagan told me: look for the music that means something to you, and you’ll find something special. This also applies to the stores: look for a place that you think could offer the most to you, and there you will be able to find something special.