Pretty much every day of the calendar year is a National Day of something, and today happens to be National Vinyl Record Day! If you know me at all, you know I’m obsessed with shiny black discs—my collection is bottomless, and I deal in vinyl as my side hustle. My happy place is a record store, pretty much any record store, and our region has some excellent ones if you know where to look.
You do have to leave Boca, however, as there are no vinyl retailers from Pompano Beach all the way through Boynton, unless you count the specialty shop Caribbean Records, whose owner was just arrested for running an illegal gambling ring.
But, in acknowledgment of this National Vinyl Record Day, I thought I’d give the four best shops in Broward and Palm Beach a shout-out. All are open with facial coverings and social-distancing requirements, so without further ado:
Top Five Records
10 South J Street, Lake Worth Beach
In a discrete nook off a side street in downtown Lake Worth Beach, this cash-only vinyl outpost is manna for the discerning audiophile. The owner specializes in carrying only the most pristine-condition vinyl, and while new titles are available, its primary stock in trade is the gently used rarity you won’t find anywhere else. Hours are limited—noon to 6 p.m. Friday to Sunday—but worth it, especially on the monthly “reveal” days in which the store’s most anticipated titles drop. July’s reveal saw the uber-rare Velvet Underground “pink banana” cover, among a wide range of collectibles from original Sun Ra pressings to mint Nick Cave imports. This Saturday, Aug. 15, is the next reveal.
The Record Rack
2205 E. Atlantic Ave., Pompano Beach
Always fun to browse, this Pompano destination near the beach hits every price range, from brand-new titles to collectibles to the surprisingly robust dollar bins on the floor, where I personally found some choice Tim Buckley and Beach Boys records. I recommend the Record Rack for Record Store Day Aug. 29; on typical RSD days, those dollar records become quarter records, and customers seeking RSD exclusives may have an easier go of it here than at the absurdly packed Radio-Active Records, where, even pre-COVID, the lines would stretch around the block and fire codes would need to be enforced.
845 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale
South Florida’s gold standard in vinyl records for the past 25 years, Radio-Active Records is easily identified by the Little Richard mural screaming from its storefront near the intersection of Sunrise Boulevard and Federal Highway. I would submit that its selection is the deepest and most “niche” of any area retailer, comparable to legendary California shops like Amoeba, and to the stores in Seattle and Austin. Eclecticism and music discovery is at the heart of its mission, hence its slogan: “I went in for the Byrds, and came out with Swans.” Truth be told, the prices were better—some of the prices were insane, in fact—10 or 15 years ago under the pioneering auspices of former manager Mikey Ramirez, a local DJ. But the slight uptick in today’s price points probably reflects the general inflation in LP values overall. It remains a must-visit.
We Got the Beats
840 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Suite 118, Oakland Park
The disco ball logo of this friendly neighborhood record shop betrays its origins as a dance music emporium, but it has long since expanded its inventory to all genres. Named, of course, after the Go-Gos hit, it’s a snob-free place for new and casual listeners; more than any other shop, We Got the Beats is the anti-“High Fidelity.” It’s as fun to browse as anywhere, and the prices might just be second to none: Start with the used-bin “new arrivals” and snatch the best deals before they fly off the rack. I’ve never been here for Record Store Day, but I would imagine the place heaves with activity.