The state of Minnesota has given us some of the most popular musicians to hit the airwaves. Whether you throw dance parties to Lizzo, crank mixtapes of Babes in Toyland, yell along to The Replacements, or jam with grandma to the Andrews Sisters, the state’s gift for music is undeniable. Of course, the most beloved and referenced artist to come out of Minnesota (Minneapolis more specifically) was none other than The Artist Formerly Known as Prince himself.
Even after ascending to global stardom, Prince made his loyalty to Minneapolis and St. Paul crystal clear. In one famous quote, Prince said: “I like Hollywood, I just like Minneapolis a little bit better.”
Any music fan who has watched Purple Rain likely knows that the Twin Cities’ First Avenue nightclub was the primary setting for the movie (the nightclub now has several venues spanning St. Paul and Minneapolis). The spirit of The Purple One, and what he brought to the music and art world at large is evident all over the Twin Cities. Vinyl lovers can step into record shops and listen to owners recall memories of the late artist performing with The Time, while connecting with the vibrant local scene that’s very much alive.
One thing is for sure, if you’re looking to buy records in St Paul, you’ll find a lot of music stores brimming with everything from records, to high-quality turntables and posters. So whether you’re on the hunt for a brand new best-selling album, or you’re cruising for weird old gems, here are some of the best record stores in St Paul (and a few in Minneapolis as well).
Open since 1968, Electric Fetus is one of the most famous and widely loved record shops in the Twin Cities, and for good reason. Electric Fetus was notably Prince’s favorite record store in the area. He visited Electric Fetus just five days before he died, which makes browsing the aisles one of his very last memories. The love was unsurprisingly mutual, as the shop has an entire online section dedicated to Prince.
The iconic shop takes up most of a city block, and houses a massive selection of lps ranging from new releases to classics across genres. You can grab motown, metal, and international funk all in one shopping trip while feeling like you’re taking in local history. Also, if you’d like to lighten the load of your own collection, Electric Fetus buys used records. There’s also a sizable selection of cassette tapes, and you can browse jewelry, clothing, Sumiko Phono Cartridges, and even incense during your visit.
Location: 2000 4th Ave. S
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Agharta Records is a full-on dream come true for anyone who loves crate digging for a discount or delightful rare find. The St Paul sweetheart of a shop has an entire alphabetically organized bargain “dig room” where you can score stellar finds for as little as $1-5 dollars. The walls are completely covered in posters, giving each visit a true record store vibe. Plus, movie lovers will find a generous selection of horror movie soundtracks to pick from. You can also bring in a box of your own records to sell in a quick and friendly manner. The staff are known for being consistently fun and passionate, so you’ll feel comfortable spending as long as you need browsing the shelves.
Location: 2512 University Ave W
St Paul, MN, 55114
You know that feeling of trying to Google a song that’s stuck in your head, with just a sense of the sound or lyrics? Well back in the day, record store owner Jim “Hymie” Peterson was known for his uncanny ability to pinpoint exactly what song customers were thinking of. Known as a one-man Shazam before Shazam even existed, Jim “Hymie” Peterson quickly established Hymie’s as a cozy neighborhood institution where music lovers could come chat, hang out, and find great jams.
The shop has now been around over 30 years, and is currently run by Dave and Laura in the wake of Hymie’s passing. They carry a large collection of new and used records, CDs, DVDs, and even music literature. But the store’s major strength is the entire section dedicated to local vinyl records. This truly keeps Hymie’s spirit of loyalty to the neighborhood artists alive.
Location: 3820 E Lake Street
Minneapolis, MN, 55406
If you’re a metalhead or life-long punk, or you heavily dabble in either of these genres, then Extreme Noise Records will be the north star of your record shopping adventures. Extreme Noise Records was founded in the early 90s by a collective of local punks who felt fed up with the lack of punk subgenres available, and decided to take action. The original shop hosted a variety of live DIY shows, and the store has now spanned a handful of different locations, all maintaining the focus on punk and metal music.
In keeping with its collectivist roots, Extreme Noise is completely volunteer-run, and all profits are funneled back into local punk venues, artists, and the community at large. On any given trip to the shop, you can browse tons of lps, CDs, DVDs, and even clothing and punk zines.
Location: 407 W Lake St,
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Located in the heart of St. Paul, Eclipse Records is a great choice for anyone who loves local indie music, jazz, blues, soul, or anything rare and obscure. If you’re looking for something that’s not currently in stock, Eclipse Records will contact you once your request is in stock. The store is also a great resource for people who love live performance, as they host both in-store performances and sell tickets to famed local venues like Palace Theater.
Location: 419 Wabasha St N,
St Paul, MN, 55102
Roadrunner Records opened up shop in 1986, and has since made its mark as a vibey hole-in-the-wall offering everything from old tapes to brand new records. They’ll buy any medium of music you have on you, so long as it’s in good enough shape. A great stop for your Record Store Day browsing, Roadrunner Records has always known how to throw a show or impromptu party. Over the years, the shop has hosted live performances featured everyone fromThe Mekons to Bonnie Prince Billy, and they’ve hosted annual Open Streets performances as well as Record Store Day events.
Roadrunner is a great place to sell a few lps, browse for some new ones, and of course, chop it up during local events.
Location: 4534 Nicollet Ave,
Minneapolis, MN 55419
Cheapo Records has a handful of locations around the Twin Cities, and boldly calls themselves the “Last Authentic Music Stores.” If you’re a cinema fan who loves to double up your crate-digging with some movie purchases, then Cheapo Records’ massive selection of new and used movies will be a major plus. Not only do they buy records, cassettes, CDs, and movies from collectors, but they also offer local musicians a “consignment” option so they can sell their music through the store for a larger potential profit.
If you’re looking to decorate your listening corner, Cheapo Records has a gigantic selection of music and movie posters spanning thousands of options. The sprawling t-shirt collection also offers music lovers a chance to buy coveted band shirts while the pandemic limits our live shows.
1. 2600 Nicollet Ave,
Minneapolis, MN, 55408
2. 71 Snelling Ave N,
St Paul, MN, 55104
3. 170 89th Ave NE,
Blaine, MN 55434
Know Name Records has been open in the same exact location since 1977, and you can feel that when you step through the doors. While it features a great selection of used and new blu-rays, DVDs, CDs, and LPs, one of the most stand-out charms of the shop is the headshop element. On a given trip to Know Name Records, customers will find a bevy of incense sticks, glassware, and various smoking accoutrement. You’ll likely also stumble upon vintage items ranging from turntables to t-shirts and old speakers. The act of vinyl shopping can often feel like stepping into a time warp, and the 70s vibe of Know Name Records really emphasizes that.
Location: 6009 Portland Ave,
Minneapolis, MN 55417
Formerly known as Solid State Vinyl, Solsta Records is run by married couple Hannah and Phil Borreson. Fueled by their passion for music and art, the couple combined Phil’s vinyl collection and Hannah’s artwork and homemade accessories to first kick off the concept. After gaining traction among local music lovers, they grew their store and started hosting regular “Live From the Record Room” concerts in the intimacy of the store.
The Borresons funneled even more of their creativity into curating the “The Rockin Roller Bus.” Known as the Twin Cities’ first and only “vinyl bus,” the “Rockin Roller Bus” is a 16-seat passenger traveling vinyl store. So, if you don’t make the effort to browse their used vinyl and art at the brick and mortar store, there’s a chance the traveling store will come to you.
Location: 6006 Excelsior Boulevard,
St Louis Park, Minnesota
10. Caydence Records
There are few simple pleasures more satisfying than sipping on a freshly brewed coffee while perusing records. The owners of Caydence Records and Coffee knew this was the move when they opened a shop that offers both hot lattes and a fresh selection of used and new vinyls. You can shop hot artists from St Paul, browse local artwork, and pick up a cassette all while snacking on a pastry and a hot drink.
In keeping with their love of the local scene, Caydence Records and Coffee also functions as an all-ages space for live shows of all sorts. If you’re in the neighborhood, you’d be remiss to not stop in.
Location: 900 Payne Avenue,
St Paul, MN 55130