As the world begins to open back up and the possibility of travel is on your horizon, digging for records will certainly be on your mind. I just got back from Denver, Colorado, where I picked up an eclectic mix from Wax Trax, Twist and Shout, and Recollect. I had honestly forgotten how much fun it is to be a record store traveler. Record stores can tell us so much about a city — digging in them presents a perfect mix of anonymity and discovery.
When circulating those travel dollars, I always look to support businesses owned by women, as well as Black, indigenous people of color, and LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs. While Record Store Day has added these notations to many of its listed stores, finding a succinct guide of woman-owned record stores can be difficult.
Here’s a shortlist of woman-owned record stores across the United States. To be honest, there are so many stores that are now co-owned by women — Strictly Discs in Madison, Wisconsin; Record Archive in Rochester, New York; Vertical House in Huntsville, Alabama, for a few examples — that a comprehensive list is beyond the scope of one article. This list is a starting point. Have a favorite woman-owned store that’s not on the list? Introduce them to Discogs Community through the Forum.
These record stores made the cut because they have sole women ownership, save two important majority-owned exceptions. Each store has a primary focus on records and physical media. They are all independent brick-and-mortar shops that also have clear, up-to-date websites and social media accounts. Based upon local reviews, each store is well respected by its community.
The stores range greatly in size, scope, and music focus. Several stores have been serving their communities since the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. Some stores were opened by women who were not yet born when those youngest legacy shops first opened their doors. Many of them, like Stinkweeds, Sweat Records, and Red Zepplin, are also managed by women. Most stores have taken a Record Store Day pledge as well, so if you are without an RSD 2021 participant in your neighborhood, look to these women to help you find those limited releases.
Though they are not on this list, I absolutely applaud the creativity and ingenuity of women blending record stores with vintage clothing (Revolver Vintage Boutique, Moscow, ID), cafes (Mojo’s Records, Eureka Springs, AK), open concept retail (Hy-Phy Records, Albuquerque, NM), comics (Vinyl Fantasy Records and Comics, Brooklyn) and even mobile record shops (Hello Darlin’ Records).
Ready to get out there and dig while supporting women-owned record businesses? Then put one of these fine woman-owned stores on your destination list today — even if it’s from the comfort of your living room.
Woman-Owned Record Stores in the U.S.
*Denotes BLACK or BIPOC owned store
+Denotes Record Store Day 2021 pledge participation
This list is devoted to Val Camilletti, long-time owner of Val’s Halla Records in Oak Park, Illinois. Val was a trailblazer who left us in 2018. Don’t wait to visit woman-owned record stores. Feature image by Danica Tanjutco.