After decades of down-hill slide, vinyl records are enjoying a comeback. Music connoisseurs say that the sound produced by a grooved record playing on a turntable trumps the sound of a digital track, no matter how good the speakers. Consumers agree that the sound is warmer, more intimate, and as a result, add a turntable to their in-home media centers. Makers of vinyl records are back in business, too, as many musicians choose to issue their new releases on “wax.” Now, as internet retailers are putting big-box media stores out of business, independent record stores are popular again, offering in-house concerts, autograph signings and big selections of vinyl records, both new and used, to browse. Here are the best places to look for your next disc in Charlotte.
1419 Central Ave., Suite A
Charlotte, NC 28205
A hip little store in Plaza-Midwood is crammed with new and used discs, with a special emphasis on music by local artists and recording studios. In addition to LPs and seven-inch vinyl, Lunchbox sells turntables to play your vinyl collection, plus the cleaning supplies, needles and other must-haves for a satisfying listening experience. The selection of punk music is huge, but you’ll find other genres as well, ranging from rare pre-1970 jazz, pre-1980 funk, ‘70s progressive rock, blues, reggae, metal, modern classical and rap to new vinyl reissues of rock classics. There’s a nice selection of hard-to-find boxed sets, as well as CDs, DVDs, tapes and music collectibles such as posters and stickers. Lunchbox has its own record label, concentrating on local punk and indie rock releases on vinyl, and sponsors frequent in-store live music concerts that are open to all ages. The store offers cash for used vinyl LPs, seven-inch and 10-inch discs in great condition.
6239 South Blvd.
Charlotte, NC 28217
This enormous store in the Starmount Shopping Center at the corner of Archdale and South Boulevard is a used record lover’s dream. Browse to your heart’s content for gems amid the bins organized by genre, and be sure to check the bargain bins and frequent sales. In addition to a vast quantity of used vinyl, Manifest stocks new and used CDs, DVDs, video games and comics, as well as pop culture collectibles such as action figures, t-shirts, posters and various gift items, all displayed in a flea market-type environment. Bring along some of your old media to sell or trade; regulars recommend trading for store credit to get the best deals. The store sponsors free live shows with local and touring musicians on its large indoor stage.
3325 Commonwealth Ave.
Charlotte, NC 28205
This long-time mainstay of the used music market returns to Plaza-Midwood with a new location on Commonwealth Avenue near Briarcreek Road. Jimmy “Repo” Parker’s original Repo Records occupied a storefront on Central Avenue from 1988 to 2005, racking up numerous “Best of” awards during that run. Since closing that store, Parker has concentrated on selling his stock through the internet, but found he missed the customer interaction and the music scene. At the new Repo, which opened in December 2013, Parker has plenty of space to display his extensive collection of vinyl, including thousands of rare and out-of-print dance discs dating from the early ‘70s through the mid ‘90s, many from the collections of club DJs. Like the old Repo, the new store will also stock used CDs, cassettes and DVDs, as well as vintage rock posters.
230 E. W.T. Harris Blvd., Suite B11
Charlotte, NC 28262
This secondhand store is located in the Grand Promenade Shopping Center at the corner of W.T. Harris and North Tryon. Inside you’ll find a nice and continuously changing selection of used vinyl records, as well as used books and textbooks, CDs, DVD movies and TV shows, VHS tapes, video games and game consoles, audiobooks, board games, tablets, iPods and other electronics as well as used disc golf equipment, all turned in for cash or trade by the surrounding university population. The large space also includes a coffee shop with comfy couches and a gaming/craft room, as well as a special area for kids. Prices here are some of the lowest in town. You can donate your trade credit to your neighborhood school through the Last Word’s Education for Everyone program.
5419 Monroe Road
Charlotte, NC 28212
If the oldies rock your boat, the Wax Museum is the vinyl store to visit. Based on founder Dr. Chris Beachley’s life-long love of that Carolina phenomenon, beach music, the Wax Museum stocks thousands of records, from rare beach and blues albums to 45s and even collectible 78s, as well as CDs, tapes and oldies memorabilia, plus DVDs that will have you dancing the shag in no time. Beachley, an inductee in the Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame, the Beach Music DJ Hall of Fame and the Charlotte Area Shaggers Hall of Fame, has long been one of the top dance DJs in the region, with a collection of over 200,000 tunes. The collection at the Wax Museum, in business since 1972, includes 45s and CDs representing every genre of oldie, including Motown, soul, R&B, big band, ’50s pop, country, retro disco, Doo Wop and gospel, plus reissues of classic and modern beach and shag singles, intended for jukeboxes around the South. The store also buys beach and oldie records, or can convert them to CD if you prefer.
With 15 years of experience covering restaurants in Charlotte and the Carolinas, and two regional guidebooks under her belt, Renee Wright examines the dining scene with enthusiasm plus a deep knowledge of food trends and outstanding local eating ops. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.