Salt Lake City is quickly rising as one of the greatest “hipster” towns in the western United States. With plenty of room for sweaters and coffee shops also comes space for expansion of the vinyl collector’s scene — and in this area the city has pulled through with some of the best local and independent record suppliers. We’ve explored all of the best, so you don’t have to.
The most well known and the beginner’s go-to is Graywhale Entertainment. Graywhale is a bit more widespread, with locations in Ogden, Taylorsville and Sandy. The best one, however, is located right next door on 1300 E right below the U. The shop occupies a revamped blue cottage-style house and has one of the best selections in the valley. Record shelves take up the majority of the first floor, sharing a corner with DVD rentals. Graywhale is a great place for the beginning collector because they have a great selection; there is something for everyone on vinyl in that shop. The upper floor is filled with CDs and cassettes from every era of every genre and you can get the best posters, joke books and trinkets from the store as well. The SLC location is within walking distance from President’s Circle, so anyone interested can go and look around at their leisure.
Diabolical Records, located on 200 S and 238 E, is well on its way to becoming one of the indie hubs of the state. Of all the shops downtown, Diabolical puts the most effort into supporting local artists. Every Friday the shop hosts a mini-concert of Utah-based bands. If the clubs aren’t your top weekend stop, Diabolical could be the place for you. The shop has a laid back atmosphere, quickly making you feel like you are walking into someone’s personal collection at their home.
For those more into the punk rock scene, check out Raunch Records in Sugarhouse. Raunch is on 1119 E 2100 S and is a skater’s crash pad, the walls decorated floor to ceiling with decks and other skateboard paraphernalia. Raunch has a huge selection of music, beautifully displayed on neon shelves. Owner Brad Collins likes to focus more on the punk genre, however, as alluded to by his skull-heavy interior design. Raunch is great because it has an atmosphere that has been curated over many years and over a few re-openings. Moving locations and remodeling can often be harmful to a business, but in Raunch’s case, it helped build a loyal following and a great reputation.
But at the end of a long journey of vinyl exploration, Randy’s Records on 900 S takes the cake every time. It’s a tiny shop tucked into the north side of 900 south, but they locked in the City Weekly “Best of Utah” award this year without any trouble. Randy’s has something for everyone with some of the best deals. In the shop, they have all their LP’s separated into distinct genre sections, which makes it exponentially easier to find what you’re looking for; no more shuffling through stacks of alphabetical disks. Not only does their layout make it easier to locate specialty items, it also allows for a lot of exploring. If you know what kind of music you like but don’t have a particular album in mind, you can just go to the shelves and flip away. The staff is friendly and enthusiastic about music, and they know their collection inside and out. They can help you find something in a heartbeat, or they can tell you where to find it. I’ve even heard a Randy’s employee advise a seller to take his 45s elsewhere, confessing that the man could get better money outside that particular store. Clearly, Randy’s staff truly cares about what they sell and they care about customers getting the highest quality of records for the best value. So much so that they offer astounding sales. My advice for anyone into vinyl in SLC, or anyone remotely interested in starting an amazing new hobby: go to Randy’s website and sign up for their email blasts and do it right now. They send out emails often, giving discounts and promotions, but mostly they advertise their quarterly sales. If you ask me, Randy’s sales are the best days of the whole year. Once a season, the shop takes to their warehouse across the street and does massive sales of LPs- all for only $1-2. I have made some amazing finds at these sales, from limited edition Elvis presses with photo books included to guilty pleasure splurges on first release singles of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax.” You can get a whole new bin of records for around $20. These sales also include grab boxes, where they package a ton of records together and wrap them up. You can usually buy the box for around $35, and though I’ve never braved it myself, I’ve heard the regulars have struck gold often by taking their chances with the blind buys.
Any of these stores is prime to visit to expand both your record collection and your SLC cultural knowledge. They each have their own unique atmospheres and it’s a breeze to find your people at any one of them.