A Trip to a Well-Stocked Record Store

I’m out in San Francisco for a couple of days and I had a couple of hours to kill so I checked out a record store in Redwood City, The Record Man. It was an interesting experience and probably a shop you want to check out if you’re here, although I wound up not purchasing anything. I’d say the jazz inventory at this store is the largest I’ve seen anywhere, shelves and shelves of records and you get the feeling there’s even more where that came from. You need a ladder, which they provide, and some stamina to go through the records. There’s a lot of stuff, which means a lot of stuff to wade through, but there are also collectibles buried within, although I didn’t unearth any rare Blue Notes or Prestiges. I did find a few nice Verves I was interested in and a couple of vocal records. One of the challenges is that none of the records is priced, so whatever you pick out you don’t know how much it is going to cost you until you go to the counter. There the owner, Gary, who was quite warm and chatty, goes through a process of looking up recent prices from Popsike, supplemented with a Goldmine Price Guide. I suggested he also check out the Jazz Collector Price Guide for pricing information, and perhaps he will.  In any case, I brought a small batch of records

to the counter and the prices were reasonable but all just a little bit more than I wanted to spend. A couple of examples: He had a copy of the Charlie Parker Plays Cole Porter Verve LP, a trumpeter label, and I had noticed recently that the copy in my collection was not in great shape. I figured I’d upgrade if the price was right. I figured, based on what I see on eBay, $30 was about the right price. He wanted $50, so I passed. There was also a really clean copy of Sarah Vaughan in the Land of Hi Fi, the one with Cannonball Adderley on Emarcy. Again, this is not that much of a collectible – not like the one with Clifford Brown – and you can generally find copies on eBay for $25 or $30. This one was in real nice shape but, again, the price was $50 and I decided to pass. There were also a Bill Evans Verve and a Oscar Peterson Verve and it was the same deal: The prices were around market value, but just a drop higher than I wanted to spend for that particular record. Perhaps if I didn’t already own the Bird LP or the Sarah, or perhaps if I didn’t think I could find a better price on eBay . . .

Anyway, I think that’s the extent of my record shopping for this trip. I do have to figure out a way to do a good shopper’s guide here on the site because, perhaps, there was a better use of my time, although this was an interesting experience and definitely worth a visit.

16 comments

  • One of my pet peeves is the record shops or any business for that matter, that don’t put prices on their product. it all becomes this game where the owner sizes the customer up to see the extent of their wallet and then prices accordingly. C’mon. Either you know what you want for the record or you don’t. And if you don’t you should own a record store. I alwys thought there was something illegal/shady about this. Isn’t it a requirement, if you own a business, to post prices on the items for sale?

  • I meant to say “And if you dont’ you shouldn’t own a record store.”

  • If you’re still in town, I’d recommend hitting the Groove Yard in Rockridge (over on the east bay). Pricy at times, but it’s always a pleasure going through the stock there (especially their collectable/vintage section).

  • I’ve been finding some great stuff in the downtown Phoenix area as a store there – REVOLVER RECORDS just bought a killer jazz collection. His prices are very reasonable (and posted!) The owner, Steve, likes to actually SELL his records so no inflated prices. He does know records very well so no “stupid deal of a century” holy grails are in the $1.00 bin. Just good ol great prices on great condition records. The only reason I am letting the world know this is that I’ve run out of cash flow to buy anymore!

  • His ebay name is revolveraz and he’s probably gonna be selling what locals didn’t buy yet on the site!

  • Al, Thank you for visiting The Record Man and thank you also for your fair and unbiased review of the store. It was pleasant meeting you and I look forward to interacting with you in the future.

  • If you happen to find yourself in Chicago visit Hyde Park records on 53rd.. it’s where the Japanese go first when they come to town.

  • I’ve never been to Record Man, but sometimes a store gets in so much stock it can be tough to get everything priced. The fact that nothing is priced makes it suspicious. Bagatelle in Long Beach is a place to dig and then have it priced, but I have gotten great deals there and he puts a price on it right when he tells you, so if you don’t buy it the next guy will have it priced. Always a pleasure to go there.

    Not a fan of Groove Yard. I’ve always found them to be overpriced with unremarkable titles. Pretty sure anything interesting ends up on ebay.

  • I think Groove Yard is great, I’ve always found some great records there when I lived in the East Bay a few years ago. The owner was always friendly (even to us then twenty-somethings just getting into jazz) and the pricing was very fair ($25 for a VG+ mono copy of Empyrean Isles).

  • $25 for an “Empyrean Isles”? Good score… the copy I see there now is almost four times that price 🙂 Like most record stores, you can find great deals at the Groove Yard if you’re patient (not to mention lucky!).

    I’ve found some amazing records at the Record Man. I love the fact that there’s actually a jazz “room”, with it’s own player. Just throw something on, and browse to the music 🙂

  • Al, if you are interested, I would be happy to do a shoppers guide for you. As you know I live in the SF Bay Area, and there are some great jazz records stores, including the Groove Yard, Needle to The Groove, and Down Home Music. Sorry I didn’t know you were coming out, otherwise you could have stayed with us. I am in the SF East Bay, about 30 miles from SF.

  • as we JC readers are sparse all over the world,a jazz shop guide should be appreciated.The last time I was in SF I discovered just in time that Village Music in Mill Valley had closed.I’ve been goin’there the last 30 years.More recently read on JC that also the The Jazz Quarter closed.For foreigner collectors it would be great to have an updated list of shops in USA,Europe and Japan.
    We all will be happy to contribute.

  • The other day we mentioned the idea of posting guides to record stores in various cities to help traveling jazz collectors all over the world. Our first response is from Maarten Kools with this guide to shopping for jazz vinyl in Amsterdam and nearby environs. Enjoy.

    Hi Al,

    These record shops are downtown Amsterdam. With collector’s items I mean LPs worth $50 and up:

    Concerto Amsterdam
    Utrechtsestraat 52-60
    Amsterdam,The Netherlands
    Tel: +31-206235228

    Large shop. Also CDs(large collection!) /DVDs/books: New LPs audiophile, japanese pressings, second-hand jazz/rock/punk/pop/classical. Good store, some collector’s items.

    Record-Palace
    Weteringschans 33-A
    1017 RV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    +31 20 6223904

    Only secondhand and japanese/audiophile: Large store with rock/pop/jazz and collector’s items

    http://www.recordfriend.com
    Sint Antoniesbreestraat 64
    1011 HB Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    +31-651643022

    Only LPs. New lp’s/audiophile and second hand.: Box-sets, audiophile, Japanese second-hand pop/rock/sixties/jazz/punk/classical. Good jazz department. Lots of collector’s items, especially sixties

    Waxwell Records
    Gasthuismolensteeg 6
    1016 AN Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    +31-206271600

    Small shop only second-hand LPs. Pop/disco/soul/jazz. Lots of collector’s items in jazz and soul/disco

    FLESCH Records
    Noorderkerkstraat 16
    1015 NB Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    +31-206228185

    Beautiful small shop with beautiful second-hand LPs. Avant garde/european/jazz/classical. Jazz collector’s items and maybe the largest collection of rare collector’s items regarding classical music in Europe. Knows almost anything on record/label history (and also sells biological fruit from his own land and restored hi-fi gear from the 50’s and 60’s)

    RECORDMANIA
    Ferdinand- Bolstraat 30
    1072 LT Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    +31-206209912

    Only second hand large store with rock/pop/jazz/latin/classical: Some collector’s items

    Swingmaster
    Kruitlaan 21
    9711 TW Groningen, The Netherlands
    +31 50 3124020

    This one is not in Amsterdam but in the city of Groningen (northern part of Holland) but they have a large collection of blues and jazz collector’s items. Specializes in old jazz and blues, also 78’s

    De Zwarte Schijf (the black disc)
    Hogestraat 13
    4001 ET Tiel, The Netherlands
    http://www.zwarteschijf.nl
    Tel: +31 344-635333

    This one is also not in Amsterdam but in the centre of Holland. They have about 50,000 78-RPM discs, jazz and classical

  • That’s a drag about Village Music, I picked up my mono copy of The Incredible Jazz Guitar Of Wes Montgomery there some years back.

  • The Record Man description reminds me of The Record Collector in Beverly Hills. More shelf space than circulation space, ladders to reach the higher shelves, incredibly large and varied stock and NO PRICES marked. I also had the uncomfortable feeling I was being ‘sized up’ for the size of my wallet. If you spend too much time in the store, the owner will complain about the cost of real estate in Los Angeles. Worst of all, I had my hand slapped for touching a JBL Hartsfield! “Hands off the Hartsfield,” he shouted. But it’s a great place to visit …

  • I bought some FELA records from WAXWELL in amsterdam about a year ago. I gotta say they were pretty rough. I had never bought from him and his VG was more G- so no return purchases from this buyer. Buyer beware on original FELA records however! I guess to certain sellers RARE means you can up the grade!
    Regarding MICHAEL’s experience in the Record Collector: I would think if you had an LP shop in Bev Hills it would be quite expensive and you would have clients who would just pay whatever the guy rang up with no questions asked. Probably smoking cigars and drinking wine! It does not, however, mean that you need to yell to someone to take their hand off of a speaker. I had a same experierience.
    I was in a store – TRACKS AND WAX – in downtown Phoenix about 3-4 years ago. After shopping about an hour I did find 3 or 4 records I was interested in that was probably $200 or $300 buckeroos. I carefully laid them on a turntable top that was for sale for maybe $60-70 to inspect the goods I was about to invest in. Well, the owner suddenly shouts out, in a very, very stern voice to not put records on the turntables. I simply placed the record I was looking at back into the sleeve and handed them to him and said that I was sorry for placing the records on the turntable and left! I’ve never been back!
    Now, this is important for sellers, you never treat someone like that in a retail store! That is rule #1. If someone emails me something stupid, or makes a ridiculous offer on a record, I always reply with a professional manner NO MATTER WHAT! The thing the owner of TRACKS AND WAX didn’t realize is that I had $3000 in cash in my back pocket. I had just sold a TMOQ 10 lp LED ZEP boxset of multicolored vinyl as well as other colored TMOQ records that month and was “reinvesting.” After I was going to buy the lps, I was gonna ask him if he had any B.N. stuff or REGGAE etc etc. as I always do with new record store owners. That way you get to know them and they just start showing you what they have when you come back!
    I had been to this guy’s store when I was a teenager but had never been back because I had forgot about it! I know every other store owner in town but this guy! First impressions man! A must if you do retail!

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