For the past couple years, Discogs has been proudly supporting San Diego, California’s Vinyl Junkies Record Swap, which takes place bi-monthly at legendary local venue The Casbah. In April 2017 and 2018, we’ve made it out to attend the event ourselves. We always make an attempt to visit as many local shops as we can when we travel to events, time permitting, and this year’s San Diego trip was no exception. We made it to 14 San Diego record stores over the course of two days. Check out our Guide to record stores in San Diego below!
FeeLit, 909 E Street San Diego, CA 92101
The one and only record store located in downtown San Diego, the friendly FeeLit is on the smaller side, but is packed with a diverse selection from many genres and eras. They carry new and used vinyl, cassettes, and CDs, as well as T-shirts and other music memorabilia. FeeLit is very active in the local music scene and regularly hosts in-store events and album release parties. It is also the only record store in San Diego to cater to the DJ scratch scene – portable turntablists, check out their wide selection of 7″ scratch records!
Normal Records, 4201 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104
Normal is a friendly and small San Diego record shop that is very clean and well organized. Their focus is on providing new vinyl at the lowest possible prices, as well as used records priced to move. Quality over quantity is the motto here. Additionally, Normal carries new and used cassettes and used CDs.
My dig at Normal: an original pressing of Gang Starr’s 2003 and final album, The Ownerz.
M-Theory Music, 827 W Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103
Opened in 2001, M-Theory is San Diego’s go-to record shop for all things indie, although they carry a wide variety of all popular genres as well. New, used, vinyl, CD, cassette, turntables, it’s all here. If you don’t see a new release or available reissue in stock, they can get it for you. M-Theory has a great atmosphere, supports their local scene, and they host DJs spinning in-store every Sunday afternoon.
Fivespace, 2305 University Ave #101 San Diego, CA 92104
Fivespace is San Diego’s Hip Hop specialist. The shop is seriously tiny, but a high-quality selection reigns supreme here. New and rare used vinyl, and the most thorough collection of Hip Hop tapes you’ll see this side of 1994. Also, check out their small selection of vintage wear and decor.
My dig at Fivespace: King Tee’s IV Life cassette.
Vinyl Junkies Record Shack
Vinyl Junkies Record Shack, 2235 Fern St, San Diego, CA 92104
SD’s newest record store, from the creators and organizers of the Vinyl Junkies Record Swap. Eric Howarth founded M-Theory Music back in 2001, sold the shop in the late part of the decade, and is now back in the brick-and-mortar game with the Record Shack. A beautiful space in a repurposed old house in the hip and indie-minded South Park neighborhood, VJ is a must-stop, regardless of the genres you’re into. New, used, and a very healthy selection of rare items in all formats. Come hang out on their back patio during their weekly “Sample This!” DJ sessions on Sunday afternoons, and be on the lookout for regular live performances on their adjoining driveway.
My digs at Vinyl Junkies: I’m working on completing my Roy Ayers collection, and I just got ever closer with copies of his collaboration albums with Wayne Henderson, Step Into Our Life and Prime Time.
Re-Animated Records, 8320 La Mesa Blvd, La Mesa, CA 91942
Located just a short drive outside of San Diego proper, in La Mesa, the family-run Re-Animated is also a brand new San Diego record shop. New and used vinyl, cassettes, and CDs in all genres, as well as DVDs and VHS. Re-Animated also specializes in horror movie memorabilia, such as t-shirts and posters. The perfect stop if you’re into both collecting music and horror films!
My dig at Re-Animated: Hugo Montenegro’s Moog Power.
Red Brontosaurus Records
Red Brontosaurus Records, 3044 N Park Way, San Diego, CA 92104
Red Brontosaurus specializes in Punk and Pop-Punk, as well as other forms of Rock, in all formats, although you can definitely scoop up records in other genres in here as well. They also carry a wide selection of used video games and consoles, as well as VHS and blu-ray.
My dig at Red Brontosaurus: Sun Ra’s We Are In The Future.
TAANG! Records, 3834 5th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103
New and used records and CDs, including rare original pressings, and home base to the label of the same name. When I visited, owner and label founder Curtis Casella showed me the back of the shop, which will soon be converted to a performance space, and regaled me with some tales about the label’s history.
Beat Box Records
Beat Box Records, 2148 Logan Ave, San Diego, CA 92113
Located in Barrio Logan, the cozy Beat Box is a digger’s delight, full of quality and rare original pressings of the Soul, Funk, Hip-Hop, and Chicano varieties. The shop decor could double as a museum of groove-based music ephemera.
My dig at Beat Box: Now-Again’s reissue of Soap / East Of Underground.
Folk Arts Rare Records
Folk Arts Rare Records, 3072 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92104
In business for over 50(!) years, current owner Brendan Boyle has manned the helm since 2014. A small space, but packed to the limit with quality and rare picks of all genres, carrying both new and used vinyl. Eclecticism is the name of the game here. At Folks Arts you’re guaranteed to find interesting records, and Brendan greatly values hanging out, having conversations about music, and having fun times in his shop.
My dig at Folk Arts: Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Wave.
Record City, 3757 6th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103
Specializing in vinyl for about 20 years, Record City carries all popular genres on vinyl, CD, and cassette, as well as DVDs and VHS tapes. Their goal is to provide the cleanest product possible, so you won’t find many beaters here.
My dig at Record City: Roy Ayers’ In The Dark.
Cow Records, 5040 Newport Avenue, San Diego, CA 92107
Cow Records carries a wide selection of new and used vinyl, CDs, and cassettes, with an emphasis on Classic Rock. Located in one of the last little bohemian areas of San Diego, at Ocean Beach, just a couple blocks from the coast! One could easily make a day of digging through Cow’s expansive inventory, grabbing a bite, then heading to the beach for some sun and fun!
My dig at Cow: Fu-Schnickens’ F.U. Don’t Take It Personal cassette.
Nickelodeon Records, 3335 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116
Nickelodeon Records has been open in San Diego’s Normal Heights since 1984! Run by Ruth and Elizabeth since day one, come here for original pressings of reissued titles for reasonable prices. Nickelodeon has something for everyone, young and old, with an emphasis on clean records of the Rock and Folk varieties.
Full Contact Rock-N-Roll
Full Contact Rock-N-Roll, 2834 N Park Way, San Diego, CA 92104
Full Contact is located in a repurposed house, and each room is filled to the brim with records, cassettes, vintage band tees, and tons of other ephemera. There’s bound to be something here for collectors of many stripes.
What did I miss?
With only having a couple days, I attempted to hit every spot on San Diego. I came up a little short, being just one person, and I wanted to make sure that I had time to both chat with the staff of every store, as well as do a little digging. Alma Music And Audio and Stereo Unlimited, which both trade primarily in stereo equipment but also sells records, were just a little out of reach for the time I had permitting. Additionally, I was not aware until it was too late that online shop and distributor Pacific Beach Vinyl was open to the public. Hopefully, I’ll be able to check these three out next time in SD!
Are we missing any San Diego vinyl spots in our guide? If so, please add them to the VinylHub record store database!