Despite the revolution of music-streaming, there is still a demand for hard copies of music. CD’s, vinyl records and cassette tapes are still widely available to the casual collector or the hard core connoisseur. While your local Target or Walmart might have some generic new releases, here are some local music stores that can help you find just about anything, if you’re willing to look.
- Cow Records- Ocean Beach
Cow Records is located on the beach end of Newport Ave in Ocean Beach, and it’s a great store for intentional record buying. They have a wide variety of formats, both new and used vinyl records, CD’s and cassette tapes. Their selection is well organized and contains a wide selection of well-known classics as well as new releases. If you are searching for something specific and want to find it easily, this is the place to go. Unfortunately, Cow Records lacks heavily in their selection of Hip-Hop, Country and international music. They also have consistent pricing, which is convenient for its regularity, but it’s hard to justify buying a used CD at $15 when I can stream it. Otherwise, the selection of rock, funk and jazz are extensive, and their collection of vinyl records is substantial in variety and quantity.
- Book Off- Kearny Mesa
Book Off has a little bit of everything. It’s advertised as a used book store but in addition to used books they also sell video games, DVD’s, serialized manga, musical instruments and anime figurines. They also have an extensive CD collection that is very generously priced. The literal WALL of CD’s is a little unorganized and easily overwhelming, but it is full of hidden gems. It takes the better part of an hour gazing through CD’s, but they have a wide variety of genres and affordable pricing. It’s worth sifting through 100 CD’s of garbage when you find rock and hip hop classics for sometimes as low as a dollar. The variety also incites me to try out new things; sometimes I find a CD I have never heard of before and since it’s only a dollar I figure I might as well try it out, and more times than not, it turns out to be great. If you don’t mind spending a lot of time searching, this is my favorite place to find CD’s. (Pro-tip: check out the bins under the CD wall, they put all their overstock down there and people typically forget to check it.)
- Father Joe’s and Goodwill in Hillcrest
These two thrift stores in Hillcrest are a short walk from each other and have the best selections for classical, opera, and traditional country music. I am speculating that people donate large collections of music that look “boring” but it’s usually a treasure trove for older genres. Due to the large selection, you can find a lot of different recordings of popular classical pieces as well as a variety of collections of your favorite composers. This is where I find the most opera CD’s; most of it is Lucianno Pavarotti or the Three Italian Tenors, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s also typically a good selection of old country. These are more hit or miss due to a wide range of quality in that genre but if you scout around you can find something good. I found a great Loretta Lynn album there. I also found Bonnie Riatt’s “Nick of Time” which, honestly, you can find anywhere, but that’s a great album so go get yourself a copy.
Where NOT to go
- Goodwill- Balboa Ave. & Sports Arena Blvd.
As an avid wearer of sweaters, I love a thrift store as much as the next guy, but these Goodwills have some of the worst music selections I have ever laid eyes upon. I’ve seen the same albums at both stores; they’re filled with CD’s from the worst 2000’s era rock bands like Daughtry or 3 Doors Down, Susan Boyle’s “The Gift” and Josh Groban records. I have wasted hours sifting through their CD’s to find nothing of note or value and I warn you not to waste your time as I have. There are a lot of thrift stores with mediocre CD’s but these two have really some of the worst collections you can imagine. It’s as if San Diego collectively sorted through their CD’s, removed the ones they got as gifts from their grandparents, and dumped it in those stores.
By: Tony Le Calvez