Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Music Store List: in Minnesota (PART ONE: Currently In Business Retailers)

I've felt for a long time, it would be good to have a recommended Record/Music Store List for each town in the country/around the globe). I've always thought, namely for the addicted music (vinyl now it seems) collector, if on a trip outside their hometown or just in your own hometown, what retailers exist and what they are like.

I of course grew up and have always lived up to this point in Minnesota, specifically the St.Paul areas.

This is the 1st of I would guess 3 entries about my experiences and opinions of the Music retailers I have been to. This is focused on the CURRENTLY in business stores in Minnesota that I know.

This was intended to be published on Record Store Day 2013, on April 20th, but of course time didn't quite allow me to do that. But it's only a little belated, being just a few weeks after now.

Cheapo - Minneapolis
This is without a doubt the best music retailer in Minnesota. They have the most cds, and the most vinyl. And without question, the most diverse and largest volume of inventory. I have extensive memories of my time looking, hunting, stumbling-upon both rare items I have looked for, and unknowns. Mostly in the 2000's looking among the 5 "Recent Arrival" Bins that hold I'd estimate 400-500 cds at least on each.

That period of time, it was often trying to find used copies of new releases or promos, for $3-$10, which almost always was worth the time and *cheaper* than buying it new online. Although with the way Amazon Marketplace and others like Ebay, CDandLP, Discogs.com, MusicStack, Gemm.com and Half.com have become an incredibly convenient and affordable resource for that stuff, I probably could save myself some time.

But there is or was for awhile the romanticism of finding the rare prog or out of print title among the sea of mass-produced rubbish. maudlin of the Well I once found there. As well as the 1st Oceansize cd I ever bought, somewhat on a whim ad it was a promo without artwork of Everyone Into Position. And it was just $2.

I also always associated the Red Dot Net listening stations with both this place and the St.Paul location. RIP to those sadly.

And even further back, when this store was located on the corner of Lake and Hennepin I recall, I went there before my 1st King's X concert with Galactic Cowboys. I remember checking GC's out and buying at least 1 of their tapes. I also remember sampling some of Faith No More's music in that pre-concert trip. I want to say it was August of 1996.

Edit: some of it is actually on Youtube, LOL. August 27, 1996.

Cheapo in the Present:
I now go there almost strictly for Vinyl. And while I may not find some things there as other locations, like the abundance of "Recent Arrival" CDs, the Vinyl is just as big, as I believe they have 6 separate shelves with 3 long rows. And a lot of stuff does not end up "on the floor" as it gets snatched up, which makes my time browsing the Rock/Pop A-Z limited. Although the "New" Vinyl sometimes things show up at unexpectedly. Or even on the End Caps, as I found both a Styx Pieces of Eight Picture Disc and an original pressing of Fates Warning's Awaken the Guardian recently.

I will say, all those years the Vinyl was in the basement, I wish I had been a collector. I would spend 10 or 15 minutes downstairs, often spending as much time with the cassette tapes as the Vinyl records. But back then, I may have had more of a shot tracking down the 90's LP's I hope to but never seem to find like albums from Savatage, King's X, Galactic Cowboys, Extreme, Saigon Kick, I Mother Earth, Toy Matinee, Jellyfish among others. Plus the prices may have been a bit lower as Vinyl was still somewhat dead 10 or even a little over 5 years ago. I did purchase both the picture disc and "Red" printing of Rush's Hemispheres there, but that was recently. Had it been 10 or 20 years ago, I wonder if their price would have been a bit less.

I did of course in fact meet Prince there too..

I guess the only issues about Uptown Cheapo is both the way they blast awful music at times on the intercom, mostly towards the end of the night (although a few weeks ago I was forced to hear the new Tame Impala album, but it wasn't at the end of the night; but that nearly killed me being forced to take it in a while browsing for vinyl). And how they have a towing service that tows your car if it is not out of their back parking lot by about 10 minutes after they close (or even earlier). It used to be at Midnight, which staying until they closed was a bit of a tradition at 1 point, but now with shorter hours, it's 10PM. Like the speedy cd-flipping, watching the clock at Cheapo has become fundamental, although it often used to be before a movie I was to see at Lagoon or Uptown (often an advanced screening), but not so much the last few years. I do still like that tradition as well, either before and/or after. It often was I would try and flip through a percentage of the Recent Arrivals before the movie, and then finish the rest afterwards.

Cheapo in Uptown (the Flagship store), the best, most extensive, diverse, and affordable music retailer in Minnesota and more or less the Upper Midwest. If Prince never helps them out financially, perhaps 1 day I will.

We opened our first store in 1972, with a few simple thoughts in mind –
To offer a combination of selection and customer service that is second-to-none - and create a fun and easy shopping experience for our customers.
– after all, that’s the way shopping for music and movies should be – and that’s the way it IS at Cheapo.
Today, more than 30 years later, we have truly become a ‘shopping destination for the world.’ Few stores in the country exceed our depth of selection across all formats and genres of music – from the most popular new releases to the most obscure titles in any genre – we’ll have it. However, we must apologize in advance for not having refrigerators, clothing, books and smoking accessories.

Our New and Used DVD’s, CD’s, LP’s, 45’s and Cassettes are conveniently organized alphabetically by genre, for easy browsing. Our store emloyees are polite, knowledgeable and friendly – they like their jobs as much as you will enjoy shopping in our stores!
No music store in the country surpasses our selection of local and regional music, and most store locations are open until midnight EVERY night of the year for your convenience.
How much easier could it be? Please stop by one of our many locations and find out what you’ve been missing!

Cheapo - St.Paul
I have a long history with this location going back to probably around 1995 or maybe even earlier. I first looked for Yes there, and Marillion. Hawkwind and many other names. I didn't really start looking for Vinyl though, regularly, until a couple of years ago. They have occupied both sides of Snelling off and on in the time I've gone there. Sadly, right now, they have been forced to include all formats of media into 1 location per only affording Rent cost on the West location.

Comparably, I find this place to be the 2nd best location to buy music in Minnesota. It's odd how I will find or randomly get introduced to artists there, that I have never seen at the Uptown store, and vice-versa. I suppose it's the clientele and employees tastes that vary.

The 2 main Cheapos in the Twin Cities though, as far as I know, don't really share much other than the name.

Cheapo - Blaine/Fridley
This is the Cheapo that I always thought of for the Metal section they had. I have a distinct memory around 1996 or so, of after being suggested some bands at a Record Show, finding "Old Sanctuary" and especially Crimson Glory, after going apeshit for Fates Warning and wanting to find bands who were similar to them.Chris aka "Hans" Nygaard suggested them, and I found those 2 bands up there.

I still think among the all the Cheapo stores, this location does carry a little more Metal. Although when Root Cellar Records closed, a large inventory of Metal ended up at the Uptown store especially. But I guess between this store and "Sharky's" in Fridley, where I saw Queensyrche-influenced band Conditioned Response once, there is a larger or large demographic of Metal fans in the North Metro suburbs.

The new building moved a little west to Blaine, and the building is a bit larger. Vinyl-wise, I found a number of titles I had never seen at Uptown or St.Paul. Although the prices were a bit higher I recall for the Floyd and Zeppelin titles I wanted. I have not found Atom Heart Mother there or otherwise yet, but this place it wouldn't surprise ended up on the Recent Arrivals shelf more often than other stores.

The Electric Fetus
The Hipsters of course champion "The Fetus" and outsiders from Minnesota including Ringo Starr I recall even know it. It's not bad in terms of some of the inventory, but it's always been clear they are selective on what they will and won't sell. I think 1 obvious experience I had, a few years ago when the new dredg album was coming out, they failed to include it in their New Releases email. I emailed them why, and they claimed it had to do with lack of previous sales.

Their prices are often higher than a lot of other stores, and they don't have a lot of USED inventory. Which in some ways is ironic, but also makes them the Anti-Cheapo. Ironic, meaning that they are located in the Uptown area of Minneapolis, hardly a spot as convenient for consumers able to afford a ton of new/sealed music. 

Also the fact they don't have the depth that Cheapo has for minority or dare I just say "Black Music" of a sort. In other words, you can find the Pitchfork stuff there, but the Soul stuff my girlfriend looks for? it's more scarce.

On the positive, I do like when they have SALES and they used to have a free paper newsletter, which every once in awhile, I'd see 1 of their employees, often from another location, like Duluth, mention some prog. And I have found a few obscure items (to others) there like cds from Emanuel & the Fear and Hotel of the Laughing Tree there.

But overall, while the people who work there I have had some good conversations with, and they have brought in some cool people to play live (Jimmy Gnecco I guess back in 2003), the impression from the consumers even more than the employees, doesn't make this a spot I frequent as much as other places. Although I  would say, even just the little trinkets, clothing, and stuff in the front adds a bit of interest. And The Fetus is not the most Hipster-ish or Snobbish music retailer in town. I suppose places like Treehouse and Extreme Noise may surpass them in that category. But *overrated* might be the best way to describe them. But considering  some of the other places that are now gone, I am glad they are still around. And when their roof got taken down, I did feel for them to a point.

Memory: at Record Store Day in 2009? seeing Chris Cornell and asked him if he knew who Kevin Gilbert was. His response: "Yeah I do. So what?" 

Memory 2: Finding Porcupine Tree's  Lightbulb Sun there, and talking to friends of mine about PT a few months after planning to see them at Nearfest in 2001. Also my friend Tim buying their disc "Recordings" there, and it being some uber-rare item at the time. 

VFW on Lake St Record Shows
I figure these would be worth sharing as simply, being a music consumer in Minnesota, some of the best titles and unreleased items I have found at these.  The VFW shows I suppose maybe the longest running. It always seemed to take place every other month, usually the 1st Saturday of that month.

Many out of town dealers would come in for this and the other regularly held shows. My experience or point of going to these was mainly for bootlegs. And I was a regular, largely before the Internet and online sites like Dimeadozen and Tradersden existed. 

There were a bunch of regular dealers I'd see at this show, mostly if not all don't sell at these shows anymore. 

One guy named Tommy who only sold Videos (VHS and at some point, more DVDs I recall). 

There was another regular seller named Jeff who often had some prog, including a good amount of Todd Rundgren. I recall he was the one who pointed out the fact Chris Squire was the only member of Yes who was on every record. This was in some discussion we had years ago at the Thunderbird Hotel in Bloomington, along with the Kelly Inn, another somewhat regular location that doesn't happen anymore.

A guy named Dylan who may have been the dealer I looked forward to seeing more than others because he had a regular supply of Rush and Dream Theater cds. He even at one point met Geddy Lee (and perhaps Alex?) and had him sign a laminated photo for me, except the one thing that stands out about that is the fact it was written to "Kevin" instead of my actual name. But I appreciated him thinking/remembering me. 

There also was for a short period of time, a dude named Chris who had more Metal videos than anyone at those shows. Namely Fates Warning, 1 or 2 Savatage I recall and King's X especially. He had this enormous collection of King's X live videos going back to I believe before they were known as King's X (the "Sneak Preview" and/or "The Edge" period). I also credit him for telling me about bands like Sanctuary ("Old Sanctuary"), Nevermore and Crimson Glory. CG being really the one band among those 3 I really got into. But those 3 names I heard from him when I told him how much I loved Fates Warning and wanted to find bands like them (besides Queensryche).

Long story/longer, I knew he had so many King's X videos, I gave him a deal. He make a compilation of the best of the best from every tour he had, or just, I think 6 or 7 of the best shows, 1 from each tour. I gave him $120 I recall, as each video typically he sold for $20. I'm pretty sure he made them, or put the 6 or 7 videos together for me, but he also stopped dealing at the shows around that time. I remember getting 1 of them at the last show I ever saw him at. However he had my address I believe, and somehow attempted to send them to me, but I never got them.

I think they got caught up in the mail  (maybe with the wrong address or something) unfortunately. To this day, I still wish I could get those, although I hardly ever use my VCR (or even DVD player that much), so the point might be a bit moot. They'd be nice to convert to DVD or online though. My VCR at times ate tapes, maybe 4 or 5 years ago, so I have been a little gun-shy to try and play any VHS tapes since. But I am still too curious to want to check some of those out. O well,. it was a bit of a lesson learned.    

Ramada Inn Record Shows
These shows have happened for what I'd guess is the last decade or a little more. And I don't think every other month, but maybe more like 2 or 3 times a year. I honestly have only gone to maybe 4 or 5 of them, and the last being many years ago. I would say they differ from the VFW/Kelly Inn shows primarily from having more out of town dealers and less of the older folks (older being relative), as by the time I ended up going to them, some of the regular bootleg sellers were done as far as with the shows. I'm not sure if the likes of Bill Kubeczko, Drew Miller and the KFAI folks like Ron Gerber show up at them as well like they do with the VFW Lake St one, but it wouldn't surprise me. I have been meaning to try and go to one sometime soon though, especially since I drive by/work so close to that hotel anyway, lol.

Roadrunner Records
Like Cheapo, especially the St. Paul Cheapo, I have some vague yet fond memories of this store. I want to say as far back as 1996, 1997 or '98, I special ordered the Marillion EP's Real to Reel/Brief Encounter on CD, and B-Sides Themselves. Ultimately, those may not seem so rare, but in the late 90's, in the midst of consuming music for what was or would become my favorite band, it was kind of a big deal.

And maybe 2 or 3 things stand out about that experience. 1st) If I am not mistaken, Roadrunner was located on Nicollet Ave in Minneapolis, but not on 43rd St as it is now, but it was further North towards Lake St. Perhaps around 37th or 38th? I am not certain where, but I recall it was sort of on a hill/hilly-part of the street on the West side of Nicollet. And one other big thing about that and my 1st and 2nd times going there, there was this great Mom-and-Pops Italian restaurant across the street, that my folks and maybe a friend or relative ate dinner at one evening, and literally within a month or less closed. And the restaurant had been there for quite awhile. A Family-owned place I think. I remember their pizza was quite good.

I was sad to learn of that place closing. And after that happened, I don't recall how many times I ended up going to Roadrunner before they ended up moving (I'm pretty sure), but my next memory of Roadrunner was sometime in the early 2000's, maybe 2000 or 2001, I went there and met my friend John. I remember hearing they had a "prog" section and looking through many of their cds. I ended up seeing cds from a band like Gryphon who I recall my friend Creighton had played on my show on KFAI and some of my friends who I saw at concerts and went to Nearfest-with raved about.

I also found for $1 a copy of the 1st Fish album Vigil in the Wilderness which I sadly had never heard (sometimes solo/side projects even with my favorite bands, take time). It didn't include a jewel case or jacket, but I didn't care, it was shocking and a huge steal I felt.

Around that time I believe, I also ended up going to Anodyne Cafe, which around 43rd and Nicollet, was right across the street from their new location. I recall Courtney Yasmineh played there a few times around 2003/2004 and then Greg Herriges around that time as well. Greg would play covers even like
The Beatles "Bluejay Way" and Led Zeppelin's "Four Sticks." Even Scott Bravo played there once or twice. I dug that place, but I also knew for someone like Greg, it likely wasn't a spot he'd end up playing at forever.

But I'm not sure how long after, maybe 2 or 3 years, the size of the store got reduced. Split in half more or less, and I guess some of their business direction went towards the web understandably. And that is how it remains today, but thankfully still in business unlike some other local stores who died out due to the internet and other factors. I suppose the fact they have the their online store at landspeedrecords.com supports one reason they are still in business.

I also like to think of for what they are, and what music they seem to support, they are far more on my tastes side than some of the other *hipper* stores in town. I honestly wouldn't mind if they were considered the treasure, at least by more, than what The Electric Fetus is. The guys who run it like prog, like vinyl, and also carry stuff you won't find at The Fetus or Treehouse. It's just their inventory is and always has been at a lower volume amount.

And their prices are hit and miss. So, while Cheapo probably is more consistent, sometimes things can be found there for good deals I wouldn't expect. And admittedly, I haven't been collecting Vinyl, addictive-ly that long (2 years? lol), so stuff like The Monkees japanese imports would never have crossed my radar until recently.

Half Price Books - Roseville
I have gone to this store, quite often over the last few years. I even went there, maybe not long after I moved into the Roseville area in 2006. But not really looking for music or vinyl records. Which of course as I have come to learn, I highly wish I had.

I saw Mutemath about a year ago at First Ave and I was chatting with another fan there about music and vinyl and he said this was at one time, the hotbed for used Vinyl, including prog and classic rock.

So, of course once my vinyl collecting habit took off a couple of years ago, this along with Highland Park became regular stops. I mean sure, I also have gone to both looking for other stuff like DVDs and Books even, lol. Graphic Novels namely like all the Daniel Clowes titles.

But as far as the music, I have found the most vinyl here, than any other Half Price Books in Minnesota. Stuff like Menomena, False's EP, Marillion's Thieving Magpie and a Gentle Giant bootleg among them. I'm not sure what exactly stands out about this location, but perhaps it's convenient for people going to and from both Twin Cities. I guess I notice more turnover in their vinyl inventory than any of the others. And it seems they get in the new reissues/issues sooner than other Half Prices. Although it's not like their new Vinyl selection compares to Cheapo or The Electric Fetus, but their prices of course are more favorable. Not to forget also THEY HAVE SALES AND COUPONS, 2 things that happen at The Fetus, but not as often. And never at Cheapo of course.

You can find some steals or just rare items there. 45's included.

It also doesn't hurt how close it is for me, and the fact it has a Dunn Bros, World Market and Patti's Ice Cream/Candy shop nearby.

But I can't forget how with many music retailers closing over the last 5 or 10 years, Half Price has kind of helped fill a void in some ways. And not forced everyone to shop exclusively online for things. The ole finding a needle-in-haystack or stumbling upon the key baseball card in the wax-pack is still alive at Half Price thankfully.

I also shouldn't forget how I've found some rare cds there as well. 3's Paint By Number and Canada's Neverending White Lights Act 2, among them. I never would have expected to find either at a Half Price. I think not only their vinyl, but their cd inventory is kind of under-rated.

Half Price Books - St.Paul
If Roseville is the best Half Price in Minnesota, Highland Park is a close 2nd. I have fountd a number of LPs there as well, including Dream Theater's 1st record When Dream and Day Unite and a 7" Marillion 45 of "Kayleigh," among a lot of others. I would say the amount of new and used stock they get is close but not quite at Roseville's level. Mainly per going there a few times within a month, seeing many of the same titles on the shelf each time.

But like Roseville, I get the sense it's a convenient place for people to sell their old vinyl, or vinyl they got and  never knew or listened to. And like Roseville, the prices are often very affordable, and location-wise, I imagine instead of going to Cheapo, many folks hit them up. Perhaps due to also selling books or just due to its Ford Parkway location.

Parking can be a little challenging compared to Roseville, but some folks may hit it up after going to Chatterbox or the Highland Movie Theater. Or Pattina, which also is a regular double-retail-stop for myself and my girlfriend. Sort of a tradition in a way.

To add, I also ended up going to this store years ago, not looking for much music. Maybe scanning the cds, but mostly only for books. Oh how I wish I was hunting for vinyl back then.

Another part of this store that I shouldn't forget is its basement section down the stairs. The gf must hit that area looking for bargain LPs and she's found some stuff once in awhile down there. Myself, years ago I picked up the Jeff Buckley biography, and remember wanting a JB photo book, and not buying it. It's not there anymore, and I am sad I didn't buy it when I had the chance. I remember debating on which book to get, Dream Brother, or the photo book. Maybe I chose the wrong book? But in the last few years, I found cds from dredg and some others for $2 or less down there.

Half Price Books - Maplewood
What I can say about this location is, I have not found a ton of LPs to buy there, but I have found many I wanted, but the condition was not worth owning, Stuff like Pink Floyd's Meddle and some Genesis stuff I remember being excited to see on the shelf, but only to be turned off by the condition.

I do think they get in some good stuff once in awhile, but for whatever reason, condition, timing, or otherwise, I haven't found my purchases to be that high, and thus regularly wanting to go back. I do remember it originally being located West? or White Bear Ave in 1 of the outside malls in the Maplewood Mall- shops. Right next to a Office/Copy Max. And then 1 day I went down there to make some business cards and I was saddened it was empty. But then relieved to find it had moved.

I think the 1 thing this location seems to receive some good used media in, are TV Show DVDs, as I saw 2 or maybe 3 copies of the Freaks and Geeks Yearbook Edition on the shelves for $60 back in 2011. I already own it, but the gf doesn't. Unfortunately, when she wanted to finally pick one up, they were gone.
I also recently found 3 of the Babylon 5 seasons, which I've wanted on DVD for ages. Highland Park seems to get a lot of good TV show dvds as well as I found Dark Skies there for dirt cheap a few months ago, and the big Gilmore Girls boxed set, which I'd love to get, but not for the whopping $140 or whatever it is. But other than HP, I've probably found this place to at least have stuff I want on DVD.

Half Price Books - St.Louis Park
I have been to this one, mostly when sales have happened. Their vinyl is spotty, but probably not much different than Maplewood. I once found Chicago's or Chicago Transit Authority's 1st record for 50 cents there. I also recall a George Michael 12" 45 was found for 25 cents for the gf among the Thrift-store regular titles. From memory, not a ton of other bluechip kind of items on Vinyl.

I think maybe the most memorable thing they had in stock once a couple of years ago was the Genesis 1970-1975 Gabriel Years Remasters Boxed Set on CD. I think they wanted $60 for it, which for that, I might be a bit too gun-shy, but especially with a coupon or sale, it would find my price range. I called them on Black Friday a few years ago asking about it, and it had been snatched up unfortunately. O well, snoozing and losing. I still have interest in finding said boxed set on Vinyl at Cheapo while selling/trading my current Genesis inventory.

Half Price Books - Apple Valley
This store is tiny. And I actually was recommended it by some of the HPB employees for Vinyl whil going to their annual rummage sale at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

And I suppose while they do have a decent amount of stock, I haven't found many can't miss Vinyls there, in the 3 times I went shopping down there. The gf found some Monkees 45's and a Michael Nesmith 7" 45 in fact. "Silver Moon/Lady of the Valley" I think.

I do recall some Dream Theater cd bootlegs showing up there, among some other cd bootlegs and Gold Disc/Mobile Fidelity titles, but of course they were priced at higher than I'd think about spending.

It is a store that is isolated, like Crystal or Blaine/Fridley. And I suppose if I lived closer or found my way down there more, I'd go more as I think the people who work there end up taking in some inventory I would be game for. But at this point, I can't say it quite lived up to my hopes.

Discland - Bloomington
I'm pretty sure my 1st experience at this place was more or less around the time I took the job that was located right near it back in 1999. It was literally a 2 minute drive as my data entry work was located on the West side of 35W and Discland was in the little mall that stretched around Lyndale towards the 35W North entrance.

I ended up going to Discland when they had sales mostly. I think that was partially due to the fact my friend John wasn't too interested in going there unless they had a sale.

Discland's inventory was good for bands who ended up either being on the radio, in magazines or PLAYED concerts in Minnesota. And for that reason, a lot of Metal ended up there, and still does. Some of it the punk/goth stuff, but some of it prog (and tech/death which at the time I didn't like much, but now do, and wish I had liked back then). I remember buying my copy of The Gathering's Mandylion there in fact.

Maybe 1 of if not the biggest draw to Discland and their sales were the BOOTLEG VIDEOS and dvds. A lot of bootlegs were bought and sold there, including many from local concerts. I think I may have found a Dream Theater bootleg or 2 there, and also passed up on some.

I do remember, some of their staff caught my attention. I wondered if some of the girls, namely this girl named Jess, would be worth hanging out with outside of at the store she worked at and managed I think. I remember Jess was a big Tool fan, and while I wasn't into Tool much, a lot of Tool fans, enjoyed Dream Theater, Rush and around that time especially, Porcupine Tree. And in fact, I'm pretty sure I saw Jess at the PT concert in July of 2003 at The Fine Line.

Unfortunately the social element with her and some of the other sorta gothy/provocative pierced/tattooed women there never amounted to anything for me, but it ultimately probably was for the best.

I guess as it is now, I don't live nor work near Discland anymore, and thus I don't go there, more than maybe once a year. They do have sales which I often don't even make much. I find the reason to go there maybe mostly, if I'm promoting a concert with a poster I need to tape up in their doorway.

But I did go there last year I recall, and found some nice titles on Vinyl. Peter Gabriel and Jane's Addiction picture discs.

I never collected vinyl when I went there off and on, but like most of the other stores, I wish I had. Their cd selection was very hit and miss. It seemed many titles were old issues that people sold for new remasters. Although with a sale price, it wasn't a bad deal getting some Al Di Meola, Pat Metheny or some of the extreme Metal in recent years like Dark Tranquility. I suppose their selection in Used Metal cds might be as good as most stores in town save for Uptown Cheapo. I just am unclear if driving that far is worth it, just hoping they'll have something I'm looking for. But if I find reason to be down in the South Metro, it's a good spot to check out.

Plus, that mall they are located in, has 1 of my favorite affordable Greek restaurants in Deli Supreme. I stand by that they have the best Greek salad dressing and more or less best Greek Salad in Minnesota. And their chocolate chip cookies I would still probably take over any others.

And while my gf wasn't as impressed with them, my last experience there looking for vinyl was good enough, I would think at least a semi-regular stop wouldn't be a bad idea, I would just like to include other ventures nearby by given it'll add up in the gas costs alone.

The incense is even part of its charm. And the novelty items/t-shirts/video games are worth looking at. In some ways, it's like a more blue-collar Fetus atmosphere.

Eclipse - University Avenue/Wabasha
This store and their original location I believe, I only went to maybe 2 or 3 times. I don't think I ever even bought anything there. I recall seeing a copy of St.Vincent's debut LP Marry Me there, on cd and perhaps vinyl.

And they had maybe 2 pinball machines and some other things like a photo booth, vending machines and a pool table? I forget. But the reason I ended up going there was to see bands play. One time, see my friend Josh Rundquist's band Shattered? I think it was. That was maybe in 2009 or 2010. They played in this darkened room in the back. It wasn't huge, and I don't even remember if there was a stage or not. I'm trying to remember the other show I saw there. It was a local band, but unless I scour my rym list or something, I can't recall who it was. Perhaps Between Two Skies, I forget.

Anyway, their selection of music never caught my attention, and I don't even recall how much vinyl they even had. Their cd selection was spotty as well.

Well, they ended up closing the doors at some point in either 2011 or 2012 and reopening in downtown St.Paul in 2012. I believe the 1st time I went there, was on Record Store Day in 2012. Their new place was smaller, gone was the room in the back for bands to play, and the pinball machines. The new store is a bit like Roadrunner in that it's efficient.

Inventory wise, I guess their stock is a little more appealing to me now as they have had a bit of prog show up. I even found a Picture Disc from The Who's Who Are You there, last year on RSD. Overall though, they don't have a large volume of Vinyl or otherwise. I'd say size-wise, their stock is pretty similar to Roadrunner, save for less older records, and more newer stuff.

And I'll be honest, some of the people (customers included) there and next door at The Amsterdam Bar, kind of give off a Hipster-vibe in some ways about the area. I mean it's not Uptown hipster-ville, but given how much 89.3 seems to be in bed with The Amsterdam, they also seem to latch on to Eclipse as the St.Paul version of The Electric Fetus.

And while I sort of see that, I don't think it needs to give that impression. Maybe when then Light Rail and new Saints stadium comes to downtown St.Paul, like the Turf Club, both those spots on Wabasha could find that vibe more so, but if that were to happen, I'm not sure how aggressive I will be to go back save for on times like RSD.

However, the guy who was there a few weeks ago on RSD who works there, seems cool enough, wearing the Rush RSD shirt.

Treehouse Records

This is the store I used to drive by after Record shows at the VFW, and especially back then with its "Records" title, I figured they didn't sell cds, so I had no reason to go there.

Well, I was wrong about that, probably even then. But I recall going there sometime around 2008 or 2009 maybe for the 1st time, and not finding anything I cared for. I think I went there to just give them posters to hang up for a Dream Theater show.

But my recent memory comes to likely in 2011 and Record Store Day. I went there with the girlfriend. I don't believe I found much if anything, but when I did go, it wasn't mobbed or anything. I drove by it 3 times in the morning of RSD this year and the line went down the block.

In 2012 though, I did find a rare Pink Floyd French issue of Piper at the Gates of Dawn with David Gilmour on the cover. As well as a promo of Bellybutton, the 1st Jellyfish LP. Both of those were acquired on the same trip where they were having a sale. I also found a copy of soundtrack to The Wizard of Oz, for $1 (mis-stacked/priced I believe).

So, I can't deny, I found some stuff there, although the prices of some of the titles I might have bought were higher than I'd prefer.

I think this store, is almost like a Hipster's Hipster store for Vinyl in a lot of ways. The impression from customers and the staff are a bit snobbish at times. While I did find some stuff I wanted, it's kind of obvious looking at the extensive new releases they carry, they are very specific on what they will and won't sell. You likely never will find a Fates Warning or King's X record there. Nor something even like The Dear Hunter or dredg even. They seem to be in direct competition with The Electric Fetus, but their more for the underground music shopper who can't find the latest Crystal Castles EP at the Fetus.

I almost wonder if their staff read blogs and pitchfork just to make sure their inventory has enough material the kids can't even find online.

I guess in spite of those issues I have with this place, and its uber-special spot in Uptown off Lyndale and 26th, I still find I may shop there on occasion, especially when they have sales (as they are this week in fact). They even sell concert tickets (like The Fetus, go figure..although Roadrunner does as well).

But compared to Cheapo or even a place like Roadrunner, I can't say I am as aggressive to wanting to give them my money (compared to some others..again, the Record Store Day example alone gives them the Hipster vibe..and just consider how SMALL a store it is, with maybe a max of 50 people at once, what's the point in having a RSD event if that many people show up? Maybe consider doing what The Electric Fetus does by handing out numbers and then people can come back? lol).

Know Name Records - Richfield
I don't have a lot of words to say about this store. Its been in business for years if not decades. I went there once or twice in the mid 2000's. For some reason I recall during the World Series when Detroit was playing St.Louis. I think they were having a sale. But I never bought anything.

I went back there like a year ago to hang up a poster. I saw 2 Rush Hemispheres picture discs on the wall and ceiling. And a King's X Ear Candy promo poster which I wanted, but they would not let me have.

Hymies - Minneapolis/ E Lake St
I guess this place moved at least once, but always was located on east Lake Street. In theory, this place is the kind of store I should love, but in truth, I rarely find anything there. Maybe a Renaissance LP. I will give them, they have had some Pink Floyd I'm looking for like Atom Heart Mother I guess, but that stuff goes out the bloody door too fast. Fucking hipsters.

And my friend John found a promo cassette of Galactic Cowboys 1st album for me there on Record Store Day in 2012.

But other than that, and a bit of the charm on some of their wall decorations and the dog they have present, i don't or haven't found the desire to go back there. They don't seem to carry much if any modern vinyl. What they consider "modern" seems to be records from the 1980's, lol. I do recall seeing and almost buying a Queensryche's 2nd LP Warning there (and at Cheapo a few months later).

But like many other stores in town, I don't tend to go there unless they have a sale.

I wouldn't say the Hipster quotient is what it is at places like Treehouse or The Fetus, but there still is an element there that ends up there (just the Record Store Day crowds for the live performances (outside and inside 1 year) and even the cafe next door, for me to have reason to go back. I didn't even go this year for RSD actually.

Into the Void - St.Paul
One of if not the newest music store in Minnesota. This place carries almost entirely all Metal. And it's niche. Much like Extreme Noise is for Punk, except the impression you get from the people who run it is not as stand-off-ish like Extreme Noise.

However, the one time I did go there, while they did have a good amount of Metal, a lot of the extreme and experimental Metal that I am looking for, they didn't have unfortunately. I recall seeing some stuff I like, such as Mastodon and whatnot, but nothing rare.

Now they are pretty new, so perhaps their inventory will expand in time. Stuff like Anathema, Burst, SikTh, Orphaned Land or Time of Orchids might show up at some point. Or even some older Opeth vinyl perhaps (like Cheapo used to seemingly have). I wonder if their market ultimately ends up being directed towards the old school 80's and Power Metal fans, over the more obscure stuff I want.

But without Root Cellar Records around anymore, it's nice to have a store in town for the Metal fans, even if I don't personally find everything I'm looking for..

Rice Street Music Collectors
I went to this store many years ago when it was just South of County Road C, and it was quite frankly, like a guy who was selling music on Ebay. CDs were scattered around, and maybe the biggest thing was, the hours the store was actually open was never reliable.

Then they moved down the street and got a bit more organized. The hours thing I think has gotten better, but I wouldn't assume anything. Although that probably has a lot to do with the fact the store is run by 1 guy alone I believe.

He does carry some prog . Along with t-shirts (I still want the Pink Floyd Animals one there), trinkets, posters. Although like Hymies, it seems any "modern" rock music he has, only goes up to the 1980's. So it's more or less stuff from the 60's and 70's, with some 50's. I do like how he has a few different dedicated to rooms, like an Elvis Room and Beatles Room.

Also the fact he only takes cash or check has had my trips over there more limited, than if he took credit cards. Although I follow that due to business costs, cc's can cost more than a business would like depending on how much volume the business does.

It is sort of my hometown store, if the Half Prices aren't, since they are a little further. But at this point, I only find motivation to go there just to kill time. It's sort of a low cost/low headway store, thus I would not expect to end up there as often as a Cheapo or Half Price.

Mr.Zero's - Roseville
Monkees fanatic Rick who I had previously known when seeing him at Discland. This store is a nice window-shop, as he has a ton of pop-culture paraphanelia along with music. The music he sells, especially the vinyl, to be honest, is priced at much higher than I would typically spend. But I will say, some of his inventory is rare, like the Dukes of Stratosphear LP. But, I just can't see myself spending $30 or $40 for something like that, even if it's a competitive price.

Credit him for getting his own store, but it is a shack. Tons of stuff crammed into a relatively small/.narrow space.

I would think someone like the Toy Hunter from the Travel Network would be more up for hitting his store, than me. In other words, the 70's and 80's toy collector namely. I have a friend named Miranda who has sold a lot of that kind of stuff on Ebay. And even at Discland they carried some of the video game stuff he has.

But as a regular stop for music for myself, I can't say it is at this point. It's in my neighborhood though, like Rice St, which is sort of sad in some ways.

But I would love to see Rick's store do well, whether it's from customers like myself or others. But I suppose the prices are among the reasons I'm not a regular customer of his at this point.

However, if some rare Marillion 45 showed up there, I still  likely wouldn't hesitate. I just wouldn't expect it anytime soon.

Extreme Noise - Minneapolis on  Lake St
I heard about this place for years. How it was run by Punk fans, and only carried exclusively Punk. I honestly hate most Punk. But I figured I'd go there once just to see what it was like. I was hoping they might have a copy of Gospel's cd The Moon is a Dead World, but they didn't. Also some of Refused older music. But I didn't find that either.

What I did find is they carried a lot of underground stuff that in some cases, really wasn't Punk at all. They had some Neurosis, and I was surprised by that enough to go up to 1 of the employees there and ask if they actually only exclusively carry "Punk" and she said yes. So I asked her, well then why is Neurosis in your inventory? Neurosis ain't punk. And she was like "well, their early music was"..which may or may not be the case, but the fact was, the albums they had there were not in the least bit punk or hardcore punk, lol. .

But she and the store came across just about if not more snobbish as I envisioned. Ironically, I've often got more open-mindedness from Punk fans, at least the ones over on Absolutepunk. But, in Minnesota? not the case. It's sort of the impression of Punk on Radio K and the music media in this town gives. They always find their taste to be under-appreciated and oppressed, while bands like Husker Du and The Replacements get their asses kissed every single week.

This is probably the worst music store in Minnesota, and I would say much of it has to do with the personality/attitude even just on their need to make their inventory "only Punk."..Almost reminds me of Feminist or Lesbian agendas. That's fine for them for wanting to have that exclusionary approach, but they could be a cooler place if they considered opening up their tastes and making their store more welcoming.

Down in the Valley - Golden Valley
My friend Creighton once went to this store and found about 20 or more vinyls from a sale, that I and my friend John ended up agreeing to split the cost.

That was around 2002 or 2003.

I have gone back to this store maybe 3 times since. It frankly is not in my neighborhood, and the prices and inventory is spotty. I do think they carry some Metal, that other stores may not. I remember being there a couple of years ago and them playing Kylesa on their intercom. I was there with John and my girlfriend and they hated it. I actually was digging some of it.

They also do carry a lot of the pop-culture materials along with incense, much like Discland. Although their selection and volume of inventory is closer to Know Name than even Discland.

I suppose for the North West Metro, this may be the best store, but that's not saying a ton. And this store, compared to the other 2, Crystal and Maple Grove, has more and is bigger I guess. I went to the Crystal store once, and maybe spent 30 minutes there, picking up some old RSD items (Pete Townshend's Quadrophenia Demos Volume 1.)

I do recall many years ago, the ads were constant for this place on the KQ morning show, and I always wondered and wanted to go out and see this place. And perhaps at one time, this was 1 of the best music retailers in the Twin Cities. They carried the KQRS Morning Show Cassette Boxed Set I recall, but I ended up finding that at Title Wave (and Terri Traen signed mine when I met her in fact).

I guess like many other stores, I might go more often than once every couple of years, if I lived closer or found reason to be in the neighborhood, especially for sales. Although my friend John had a membership of some kind for all the stores (there was a 4th I think even at 1 time), so the sales were not too often anyway. And given my recent impression of it, I don't know how much I'm missing for not going there too much. I should think of mainly when I have done promotion for Dream Theater shows, but even then, it's no guarantee someone else doesn't put up a poster before I end up getting out there.

Go Johnny Go Records - White Bear Lake, MN
I only went to this place once (so far), and it was kind of a shack of sorts. Mostly vinyl, and mostly old vinyl., The day I did go happened to also be a Saturday of a Record Show, so much of their inventory was not present.

I would compare it to Rice Street in some ways, or even just some of the people at the Record Shows. Older LPs, mostly 60's and 70's. It's a new store though, so in time it may find more appeal. I'd be up for checking it out again on a non-Record Show day. It also doesn't hurt it's in White Bear Lake which isn't too far a drive for me. Not far from the Pinetree Apple Orchard in fact.

not included per no experience:
Cedar Cliff Collectibles - Eagan