The 7 Best Record Stores in Chicago

The 7 Best Record Stores in Chicago

Chicago is an amazing city for vinyl lovers. As the birthplace of house music and blues, Chicago is embedded with a rich history of live performances and local artists banding together to create new sounds and conversations. That history comes alive in some of the best record stores in Chicago.

Whether you identify more with the soulful work of Muddy Waters and Sam Cooke, the iconic house playlists of DJ Frankie Knuckles, or the current indie ballads of Andrew Bird, there’s no denying the Windy City’s consistent presence in music history. Given its rich history, and the face that Chicago is the third largest city in the U.S., it’s hardly surprising it’s a great place to browse for LPs.

Finding The Best Record Stores in Chicago

As with any great music city, the most difficult part about record shopping in Chicago is narrowing down the best shops. There are so many golden spots nestled into quiet and bustling neighborhoods alike, and the personalities and strengths of these record stores vary widely.

So, while it’s impossible to objectively pick the best Chicago record stores, we’ve gathered some tried and true favorites that most locals and music lovers would give the thumbs up. These are numbered in no particular order, since they are all equally delightful.

1. Reckless Records

Reckless Records has been one of Chicago’s most beloved and iconic record shops since it first opened its doors in 1988. While the very first Reckless Records opened in London, the Chicago presence quickly marked itself as a mainstay selling everything from used rare LPS to new releases. The knowledgeable staff are known for being warm and game to answer the most niche of questions, and the shop is a popular place for vinyl collectors to sell, trade, and swap records. 

Reckless Records doesn’t focus on one genre specifically, so regardless of what your bag is, you’ll be able to find something you like. They stock far and wide across different sounds, and have a special section dedicated to rare LPs. There are two Chicago locations, one in The Loop downtown, and a bustling shop in Wicker Park on Milwaukee Avenue. Both locations are surrounded by good food, but Wicker Park has more hip bars nearby, so it’s all about your preference. 

Location: The Loop, 25 E Madison St, Chicago, IL 60602 ​

Wicker Park: 1379 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago IL 60622

2. Dusty Groove

Dusty Groove first started out as an online store co-founded by two collectors back in 1996, but it soon grew into a brick and mortar shop in Wicker Park in the early 2000s. With a focus on funk, soul, blues, and world music, Dusty Groove is a must-visit. Whether you’re more in the mood for a rare pressing flown from abroad, a recording from 70s Chicagoans Majestic Arrows, you simply want to browse a rich selection of records, Dusty Groove is internationally known to deliver. In fact, in 2010 Dusty Groove was ranked the number three record store in America by Rolling Stone magazine. Be warned though, if you decide to visit them on Record Store day, you’ll want to bring a snack because the line is long and popular.

Location: 1120 N. Ashland Ave, Chicago IL 60602

3. Music Direct

If you like being able to browse high-end gear and turntables while shopping for new vinyl, then Music Direct is a fabulous one-stop shop. If you’re looking to revamp your listening space, Music Direct has a massive selection of audio equipment, ranging from Pro-Ject turntables and phono preamps, to DACs, headphones, power amps, and surround sound. The selection of audio accessories and digital and analog options is so extensive, it’s not rare to find yourself stumbling upon something you didn’t realize you needed. Plus, you can grab a new LP from their selection of pop, blues, rock, and classical albums.

Location: 1811 W Bryn Mawr Ave, Chicago IL, 60660

4. Bucket O’ Blood

If you love the more macabre side of the record store, then Bucket O Blood is the ideal Chicago gem for you. Named after the Roger Corman film A Bucket of Blood, the Avondale shop trafficks in all things horror and hardcore. Whether you’re a metalhead, a fan of goth music, or into new wave, punk or hardcore, Bucket O Blood specializes in them all. In keeping with the title, there’s a sizable amount of B-horror films, campy soundtracks, sci-fi, comic books, manga, and even a handful of games. This is a space where you can tap into your most angsty and morbid self, and find the music and movies that compliment that expression.

Location: 3182 N Elston Ave, Chicago IL 60618

5. Decibel Audio

Decibel Audio has made its mark as a prime Chicago spot to buy, trade, and sell hi-fi gear. Located in Wicker Park, the shop has been around for two decades and curates a steady balance of both new and vintage gear for inquiring audiophiles. One of the things that sets Decibel Audio apart, is their service assembling anything from turntables to full sound systems. They can visit personal homes, businesses, bars, or any space in need of a set-up.

While many record stores give vinyl collectors the opportunity to trade or sell LPs in exchange for cash or store credit, Decibel Audio offers this same system for gear and equipment. So, if you’re looking to offload one of your speakers, or buy a high-quality turntable for your home space, the experts and generous selection at Decibel Audio is a great option.

Location: 1429 Milwaukee Ave, Chicago IL 60622

6. Laurie’s Planet of Sound

Laurie’s Planet of Sound is a Lincoln Square hole in the wall full of records and collectibles, VHS tapes, used vinyl and cassette tapes. Any visit to Laurie’s will undoubtedly result in stumbling upon an old favorite or a new curiosity transcending different mediums.

But on top of an eclectic selection of records spanning different genres, the personality of Laurie’s Planet of Sound is what brings people back. At one point, the store released a paper titled “Do Not Buy” list and included Journey, The Eagles and “anything Pitchfork.” So, while this is one of the best record stores in Chicago to hit up for a fix of diverse hits, it’s not the place to go seek out Pitchfork’s top albums of the year.

Location: 4639 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago IL, 60625

7. Hyde Park Records

Hyde Park Records is a large record store on the south side that has a generous selection of hip hop, soul and jazz vinyl. This is a great shop to get lost in if you really want to immerse yourself in Chicago’s rich music history, score a rare jazz vinyl, or sell your own LPs or DVDs. The massive CD selection also sets Hyde Park Records apart for anyone still rocking a CD player, or simply looking to build up a CD selection. The selection and vibe of Hyde Park Records feels distinctly Chicago in the best way, so it’s no wonder it’s a mainstay for vinyl lovers across the board.

Location: 1377 E 53rd Street, Chicago IL 60615 

Among the Best Record Stores In Chicago

record store storing records

Chicago is full of far too many gems to just narrow down the list of best record stores to seven. So here are a handful of the other heavy hitters you won’t regret visiting next time you’re in the Windy City.

Dave’s Records

From the moment you spot the sign on the door,, the beloved Lincoln Park spot Dave’s Records makes its devotion to vinyl very clear. They make it clear that they’ve never sold CDs (and never will), but what they lack in CDs they more than make up for in 33s, 45s, and 78s in 7, 10, and 12 inch formats. During any given visit to Dave’s records you’ll find a selection of over 40,000 titles, and the genres run the gamut from house to country to indie to jazz. All of this is to say, if you own a turntable, Dave’s is a solid spot.

Location: 2604 N Clark St, Chicago IL, 60614

Shuga Records

Another beloved Record Day destination, Shuga Records specializes in shoegaze, psychedelic, electronic, jazz and vintage rock. If you wanna grab records that will make you feel like you’re inside a dreamspace, Shuga Records will cover your bases. And they have a wide selections of posters as well if you’re looking to decorate.

Location: 1272 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago IL, 60622

Bric-a-Brac records

If you’ve been in the market to pick up some GI Joes, Polly Pockets, or other nostalgic toys while browsing records, Bric-A-Brac is the pinnacle spot. Located in Logan Square, and surrounded by hip bars and venues, Bric-a-Brac has carved out a corner full of vintage movie posters and used vinyl and cassettes that feel like an 80s and 90s time machine. This is a great place to shop for special strange gifts for yourself or a loved one, while picking up an album that brings you back.

Location: 3156 W Diversey Ave, Chicago IL, 60647 

Beverly Records

First opened in 1967, Beverly Records is one of the longest standing record stores in the Windy City. Given the lifespan of this store, it feels only fitting that Beverly Records specializes in rare and one-of-a-kind vinyls. If you’re searching for an album that feels impossible to find, or you’re simply a dedicated crate digger, this is the place to go. Plus, they rent out karaoke machines.

Location: 11612 South Western, Chicago IL, 60643 

Gramaphone Records

If you’re a lover of techno, house, or all things electronic, then Gramaphone Records is going to serve a heavy dose of what you’ve been searching for. Another older Chicago shop, Gramophone has been open since 1969 and has been a prime spot for all things house and techno since the 1980s. For those looking for some swag with their beats, Gramophone also sells t-shirts, bags, and other wearable merch. You can also shop their rare vinyls on Discogs.

Location: 2843 N. Clark Street, Chicago IL 60657

Record Breakers

When you step foot into Record Breakers, you’re immediately surrounded by walls full of work from local Chicago artists. This sets the tone for the south loop favorite, which is dedicated to investing in the local scene. Whether they’re promoting Chicago talent in their music selection, or hosting monthly all ages showcases with local bands, Record Breakers’ love of Chicago artists is clearly as strong as their love of vinyl in general. 

Location: 2935 Milwaukee Ave, Chicago IL, 60618

Even with these addendums, this list truly scratches the surface of what Chicago has to offer music lovers and audiophiles. So, if you’ve never been there, it’s well worth the trek (or at least some peeping online). And if you already live in Chicago, then you already know how rich the options are.

Once you’ve added those rare and grailed albums to your collection, check out our guide to storing records to keep them spinning perfectly for years to come.


Related posts