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10 record stores in the D.C. area worth searching for

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Something extraordinary will happen on April 21. People from around the world will put on jackets, shoes, and caps and swarm record stores both near and far. There will be special vinyl and CD releases, barbecuing, body painting, and DJs spinning records to make dope beats and parades.

There is a specific reason for this. It is a holiday. Specifically, it is Record Store Day. The first ever Record Store Day was in 2008. A group of independent record store owners hatched the idea at an impromptu gathering. They wanted to celebrate the estimated 1,400 independently owned record stores in the U.S. and their contributions to society.

Over the past few years, the event has grown exponentially. It has grown so much in fact that there are now participants in every continent except Antarctica.

Maybe you’ve never owned a record or heard your favorite artist instilled in vinyl. You are in for a treat. Listed below are 10 independently owned record stores in and around the District.

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1. Songbyrd Record Cafe

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2477 18th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Songbyrd is located in the midst of Adams Morgan’s bustling 18th Street NW. Adams Morgan can be a congested and chaotic area, filled with bar patrons and beeping taxis. This is what makes Songbyrd peculiar; during the day, it is something of a quiet sanctuary for writers and readers.

In the morning and early afternoon, students from George Washington University and American University lounge around, drink coffee, and study. The atmosphere in the cafe is laid back and mellow. The smell of freshly made espressos and lattes fill the air and tickle the nose. Food menus are glued to the insides of old record sleeves and propped up to entice hungry visitors. Crates of LPs line the wall to the right hand side of the main entrance. The selection is eclectic and varied, but small.

Songbyrd functions mainly as a music venue, restaurant, and cafe. They host live performances almost every night, attracting a multitude of customers to their 220-person-capacity venue. This is a great place to escape from the hurried pace of the city, enjoy some caffeine or alcohol, listen to music, or read a good book.

Songbyrd is open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Sundays.

Songbyrd Records Photo by Jamie Benedi

2. Smash Records

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2314 18th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Smash Records has a rich history that spans over 30 years. 1984 marks the year that Smash opened in Georgetown and became what many consider to be the premier punk and alternative music clothing store in D.C. In 2006, they relocated to Adams Morgan’s 18th Street NW.

They buy and sell used records, VHS tapes, and clothing that usually has a punk inclination. If the soles of your shoes wear out from walking the store, you’re in luck; they sell fresh sneakers too. Smash Records has a wide selection of CDs and LPs, but they mainly specialize in punk, indie, and hardcore.

Smash Records is open from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays to Thursdays, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays, and 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays.

Smash Records Photo by Jamie Benedi

3. Hill & Dale

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1054 31st St NW
Washington, D.C. 20007
Hill & Dale is located in Georgetown’s Canal Square, a few steps away from the now drained Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. The store is clean and pristine, everything is organized in alphabetical order, and they only sell new and unused records. Their older LPs are fresh pressings and remasterings of geniuses like Otis Redding and Frank Sinatra.

Melissa, the store manager, claims people of the younger generation are becoming more interested in records. They offer a tangible and memorable experience. In the technological era, it is nice to have something that isn’t offered in the app store, she says.

Hill & Dale is frequented by many who shop in Georgetown, including old collectors and students at Georgetown University. They have been open for three years, have a kind staff as well as a diverse, high quality selection.

Hill & Dale is closed on Mondays. They are open from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and are open from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.

Hill & Dale Photo by Jamie Benedi

4. Red Onion Records

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1628 U St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Red Onion Records has been open for 11 years. They have been at their new location, 1628 U Street NW, for a year and a half. It is a quiet and cozy store that caters to both serious collectors and mere hobbyists. Red Onion buys and sells used records. This gives them an assorted selection. They have vinyls dating all the way back to the '30s, says Josh Harkavy, the owner. Red Onion Records also has a small selection of used books and cassette tapes.

Once a month, Red Onion Records hosts live music events in the store. This is so customers can enjoy live entertainment while searching through collectible and contemporary LPs.

The store is open from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

Red Onion Records Photo by Jamie Benedi

5. Joint Custody

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1530 U St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Go to U Street NW, between 15th and 16th streets NW, hop down a few steps, and you’ll reach Joint Custody. The walls are lined with vintage T-shirts, jackets, and hats, all of which are 20 years or older, according to Joint Custody Manager James Gianello.

Their record selection is eclectic. They have everything from punk and hardcore, to soul and jazz, to reggae and calypso. They have newly minted records and old records. If you have an 8-track player in your car they sell cassettes too. A soulful gospel recording blares over the loudspeaker creating a friendly, unique atmosphere for the perusing public.

The store has been open for six years and counting. It is co-owned by record enthusiasts, one of whom is the drummer for the punk band Give. Joint Custody has a vibrant, welcoming feel to it, with a staff that is friendly and knowledgeable. If you have a taste for collectible and rare items, this is the place for you. They are open every day of the week from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Joint Custody Photo by Jamie Benedi

6. Som Records

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1843 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
On 14th Street NW, visitors will see the White Cloud Art Gallery. Underneath the Gallery are six winding concrete stairs leading to the 13-year-old Som Records. It is almost imperceptible to the untrained eye unless one is looking for clues like the two huge record crates sitting on the sidewalk outside of the store. These, owner Neal Becton says, are free records for anyone to take home and enjoy.

The interior of the store is decorated with seven-inch singles and full sized LPs. The music they hold spans decades. There is a large and diverse selection in the store. They have everything from old Monty Python albums to a Brazilian Record posted on the wall that says, “PELÉ REI DE FUTEBOL.” The place exudes an aura of music history. One can sense it from the walls lined with artist’s life’s work or by the old Heaven and Earth album spinning out melodies in the background.

Som sells new and used albums. The owner started as a collector. Then, as his collection grew, he decided to open a store to share his hobby with the world. The staff is incredibly friendly and the store is both mellow and accessible. Som is open from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays through Sundays.

Som Records Photo by Jamie Benedi

7. Mobius Records

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4007 University Dr
Fairfax, VA 22030
Mobius Records is located in Fairfax City, just outside of George Mason’s Fairfax campus. They are a relatively new record store (two years old) that deal mostly in new, freshly pressed records. They also buy and sell used records, however, the used albums only take up a few crates in the store.

Mobius Records has something for everyone, says Manager Andrew Schwartz. The walls are speckled with posters of legendary artists like The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Run DMC. A contemporary punk album by the garage band Zig Zags fills the store with a welcoming melody.

Mobius is surrounded by a historical firehouse, great restaurants, yoga studios, and a tattoo parlor. They get a lot of foot traffic from George Mason students starting record collections and vinyl enthusiasts who have been collectors since Nixon was in office. Mobius specializes mostly in rock music and its subcategories like indie, punk, and metal.

Their hours are from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

Mobius Records Photo by Jamie Benedi

8. CD Cellar

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105 Park Ave
Falls Church, VA 22046
Go to the State Theater in Falls Church, cross the street, and look to your left. You will see a big blue sign that says, "CD Cellar," in a hip, intriguing font. The store window has various statuettes of Elvis Presley crooning out songs that probably made teenage girls of olden times cry. There is also a cardboard cutout of Spock wearing a baseball cap that reads “The Who.” The shop is big, so big it is almost like a library made of records, CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays.

CD Cellar opened in 1992 when compact discs were taking the world by storm. The founders capitalized on the CD craze and made the CD Cellar a very technologically relevant and neat place. Eventually, they started buying and selling records as well. Their inventory began growing along with their clientele. They now have DVDs for low prices, while also selling high-end stereo gear such as speakers, receivers, and turntables.

Co-owner David Schlank started work at the CD Cellar in 1994. He was fresh out of college, and his musical hobby soon became a rewarding career. Schlank has seen the Cellar grow and evolve into a reputable record store with a selection, he assures his happy customers, that won’t disappoint.

CD Cellar is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.

CD Cellar Photo by Jamie Benedi

9. Blue Groove Soundz

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Blue Groove Soundz is located in a picturesque and whimsical area of Arlington. The architecture of the store might remind a weary traveler of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Shire in the best possible way. They have been open for seven years and counting. The record store is jam packed with LPs spanning different genres. They have everything from bluegrass and punk to reggae and calypso.

They sell new and used albums as well as new and used musical equipment, such as turntables and standing speakers. They also sell CDs and are in the process of building a wall to better display their varied selection of compact discs.

Blue Groove Soundz is open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

Blue Groove Soundz Photo by Jamie Benedi

10. Crooked Beat Records

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802 N Fairfax St
Alexandria, VA 22314
This November heralds the twentieth anniversary of Crooked Beat Records. Up until around August 2016, they could be found on Adams Morgan’s 18th Street NW. They have since relocated to Alexandria due to some health concerns in their prior building. Owner Bill Daly is saddened they had to part ways with the old store, but he hopes to open up a second location in the District very soon.

“A lot of my customers in D.C. don’t have cars,” he says. “So, it is inconvenient for them to make it all the way to the new location.”

Despite the setback, Daly and his crew are gaining momentum in Alexandria, and things are looking up. Crooked Beat Records has their own record label, which allows local artists to put their music to vinyl for distribution. The music is sent to a plant in Tennessee for pressing, and the album covers are printed in Florida. They are a store devoted to the local music scene and music history in general. Crooked Beat Records sells both new and used records and has a wide selection and a friendly staff.

They participate heavily in Record Store Day, dishing out cool merchandise like Crooked Beat Records's tote bags and hats. The store is open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays to Sundays.

Crooked Beat Records Photo by Jamie Benedi

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1. Songbyrd Record Cafe

2477 18th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
Songbyrd Records Photo by Jamie Benedi
Songbyrd is located in the midst of Adams Morgan’s bustling 18th Street NW. Adams Morgan can be a congested and chaotic area, filled with bar patrons and beeping taxis. This is what makes Songbyrd peculiar; during the day, it is something of a quiet sanctuary for writers and readers.

In the morning and early afternoon, students from George Washington University and American University lounge around, drink coffee, and study. The atmosphere in the cafe is laid back and mellow. The smell of freshly made espressos and lattes fill the air and tickle the nose. Food menus are glued to the insides of old record sleeves and propped up to entice hungry visitors. Crates of LPs line the wall to the right hand side of the main entrance. The selection is eclectic and varied, but small.

Songbyrd functions mainly as a music venue, restaurant, and cafe. They host live performances almost every night, attracting a multitude of customers to their 220-person-capacity venue. This is a great place to escape from the hurried pace of the city, enjoy some caffeine or alcohol, listen to music, or read a good book.

Songbyrd is open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Sundays.

2477 18th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

2. Smash Records

2314 18th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
Smash Records Photo by Jamie Benedi
Smash Records has a rich history that spans over 30 years. 1984 marks the year that Smash opened in Georgetown and became what many consider to be the premier punk and alternative music clothing store in D.C. In 2006, they relocated to Adams Morgan’s 18th Street NW.

They buy and sell used records, VHS tapes, and clothing that usually has a punk inclination. If the soles of your shoes wear out from walking the store, you’re in luck; they sell fresh sneakers too. Smash Records has a wide selection of CDs and LPs, but they mainly specialize in punk, indie, and hardcore.

Smash Records is open from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays to Thursdays, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays, and 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays.

2314 18th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

3. Hill & Dale

1054 31st St NW, Washington, D.C. 20007
Hill & Dale Photo by Jamie Benedi
Hill & Dale is located in Georgetown’s Canal Square, a few steps away from the now drained Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. The store is clean and pristine, everything is organized in alphabetical order, and they only sell new and unused records. Their older LPs are fresh pressings and remasterings of geniuses like Otis Redding and Frank Sinatra.

Melissa, the store manager, claims people of the younger generation are becoming more interested in records. They offer a tangible and memorable experience. In the technological era, it is nice to have something that isn’t offered in the app store, she says.

Hill & Dale is frequented by many who shop in Georgetown, including old collectors and students at Georgetown University. They have been open for three years, have a kind staff as well as a diverse, high quality selection.

Hill & Dale is closed on Mondays. They are open from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and are open from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.

1054 31st St NW
Washington, D.C. 20007

4. Red Onion Records

1628 U St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
Red Onion Records Photo by Jamie Benedi
Red Onion Records has been open for 11 years. They have been at their new location, 1628 U Street NW, for a year and a half. It is a quiet and cozy store that caters to both serious collectors and mere hobbyists. Red Onion buys and sells used records. This gives them an assorted selection. They have vinyls dating all the way back to the '30s, says Josh Harkavy, the owner. Red Onion Records also has a small selection of used books and cassette tapes.

Once a month, Red Onion Records hosts live music events in the store. This is so customers can enjoy live entertainment while searching through collectible and contemporary LPs.

The store is open from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

1628 U St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

5. Joint Custody

1530 U St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
Joint Custody Photo by Jamie Benedi
Go to U Street NW, between 15th and 16th streets NW, hop down a few steps, and you’ll reach Joint Custody. The walls are lined with vintage T-shirts, jackets, and hats, all of which are 20 years or older, according to Joint Custody Manager James Gianello.

Their record selection is eclectic. They have everything from punk and hardcore, to soul and jazz, to reggae and calypso. They have newly minted records and old records. If you have an 8-track player in your car they sell cassettes too. A soulful gospel recording blares over the loudspeaker creating a friendly, unique atmosphere for the perusing public.

The store has been open for six years and counting. It is co-owned by record enthusiasts, one of whom is the drummer for the punk band Give. Joint Custody has a vibrant, welcoming feel to it, with a staff that is friendly and knowledgeable. If you have a taste for collectible and rare items, this is the place for you. They are open every day of the week from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

1530 U St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

6. Som Records

1843 14th St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
Som Records Photo by Jamie Benedi
On 14th Street NW, visitors will see the White Cloud Art Gallery. Underneath the Gallery are six winding concrete stairs leading to the 13-year-old Som Records. It is almost imperceptible to the untrained eye unless one is looking for clues like the two huge record crates sitting on the sidewalk outside of the store. These, owner Neal Becton says, are free records for anyone to take home and enjoy.

The interior of the store is decorated with seven-inch singles and full sized LPs. The music they hold spans decades. There is a large and diverse selection in the store. They have everything from old Monty Python albums to a Brazilian Record posted on the wall that says, “PELÉ REI DE FUTEBOL.” The place exudes an aura of music history. One can sense it from the walls lined with artist’s life’s work or by the old Heaven and Earth album spinning out melodies in the background.

Som sells new and used albums. The owner started as a collector. Then, as his collection grew, he decided to open a store to share his hobby with the world. The staff is incredibly friendly and the store is both mellow and accessible. Som is open from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays through Sundays.

1843 14th St NW
Washington, D.C. 20009

7. Mobius Records

4007 University Dr, Fairfax, VA 22030
Mobius Records Photo by Jamie Benedi
Mobius Records is located in Fairfax City, just outside of George Mason’s Fairfax campus. They are a relatively new record store (two years old) that deal mostly in new, freshly pressed records. They also buy and sell used records, however, the used albums only take up a few crates in the store.

Mobius Records has something for everyone, says Manager Andrew Schwartz. The walls are speckled with posters of legendary artists like The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Run DMC. A contemporary punk album by the garage band Zig Zags fills the store with a welcoming melody.

Mobius is surrounded by a historical firehouse, great restaurants, yoga studios, and a tattoo parlor. They get a lot of foot traffic from George Mason students starting record collections and vinyl enthusiasts who have been collectors since Nixon was in office. Mobius specializes mostly in rock music and its subcategories like indie, punk, and metal.

Their hours are from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

4007 University Dr
Fairfax, VA 22030

8. CD Cellar

105 Park Ave, Falls Church, VA 22046
CD Cellar Photo by Jamie Benedi
Go to the State Theater in Falls Church, cross the street, and look to your left. You will see a big blue sign that says, "CD Cellar," in a hip, intriguing font. The store window has various statuettes of Elvis Presley crooning out songs that probably made teenage girls of olden times cry. There is also a cardboard cutout of Spock wearing a baseball cap that reads “The Who.” The shop is big, so big it is almost like a library made of records, CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays.

CD Cellar opened in 1992 when compact discs were taking the world by storm. The founders capitalized on the CD craze and made the CD Cellar a very technologically relevant and neat place. Eventually, they started buying and selling records as well. Their inventory began growing along with their clientele. They now have DVDs for low prices, while also selling high-end stereo gear such as speakers, receivers, and turntables.

Co-owner David Schlank started work at the CD Cellar in 1994. He was fresh out of college, and his musical hobby soon became a rewarding career. Schlank has seen the Cellar grow and evolve into a reputable record store with a selection, he assures his happy customers, that won’t disappoint.

CD Cellar is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays.

105 Park Ave
Falls Church, VA 22046

9. Blue Groove Soundz

Arlington, VA
Blue Groove Soundz Photo by Jamie Benedi
Blue Groove Soundz is located in a picturesque and whimsical area of Arlington. The architecture of the store might remind a weary traveler of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Shire in the best possible way. They have been open for seven years and counting. The record store is jam packed with LPs spanning different genres. They have everything from bluegrass and punk to reggae and calypso.

They sell new and used albums as well as new and used musical equipment, such as turntables and standing speakers. They also sell CDs and are in the process of building a wall to better display their varied selection of compact discs.

Blue Groove Soundz is open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

10. Crooked Beat Records

802 N Fairfax St, Alexandria, VA 22314
Crooked Beat Records Photo by Jamie Benedi
This November heralds the twentieth anniversary of Crooked Beat Records. Up until around August 2016, they could be found on Adams Morgan’s 18th Street NW. They have since relocated to Alexandria due to some health concerns in their prior building. Owner Bill Daly is saddened they had to part ways with the old store, but he hopes to open up a second location in the District very soon.

“A lot of my customers in D.C. don’t have cars,” he says. “So, it is inconvenient for them to make it all the way to the new location.”

Despite the setback, Daly and his crew are gaining momentum in Alexandria, and things are looking up. Crooked Beat Records has their own record label, which allows local artists to put their music to vinyl for distribution. The music is sent to a plant in Tennessee for pressing, and the album covers are printed in Florida. They are a store devoted to the local music scene and music history in general. Crooked Beat Records sells both new and used records and has a wide selection and a friendly staff.

They participate heavily in Record Store Day, dishing out cool merchandise like Crooked Beat Records's tote bags and hats. The store is open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays to Sundays.

802 N Fairfax St
Alexandria, VA 22314