Should I Buy Vinyl Records from a Store or Online

Young man browsing vinyl records in music store

As vinyl records spin back into relevance a dilemma unveils. There’s a reason music lovers dive down the rabbit hole investing hundreds of hours designing the optimal stereo system for their environment to maximize their music listening experience.

It doesn’t matter if it’s Hip Hop or Classical music, to experience vinyl is to fully engage and listen to the music.

There is more than just the sound to the full experience. Turning your friend on to that limited edition colored vinyl record, setting the vinyl disc down onto the record player’s platter and easing down the tone arm to hear that iconic kissing of needle to vinyl is never tiring. 

After you’ve designed your space with a personalized look and sound the next high is searching for the vinyl to fill your record collection. The 12×12 tactile package that contains the vibrations which set you free. The elusive disc that hides in a bin or corner of a shelf that awaits to fire your brain’s synapse. The feeling of reaching out and grabbing a record and making that ephemeral connection is a cheap thrill. So we dig, flipping through thousands of LPs to find that vinyl source we can flop on our turntable and stimulate our elusive fantasies. 

Is the LP purchase part of the vinyl experience? Are brick and mortar stores the only way to shop for records? Can you gain the full experience buying vinyl records online? Tower Records & Amoeba were havens for buying vinyl records. But now they too have become online stores for vinyl enthusiasts. Obviously here is yet another paradigm shift between the digital / analog debate. It certainly begs the question, is record shopping better in the digital age?

Certainly the world has opened up to investing in new ways to repackage old ideas. Flipping back through time will show you how cleverly the Columbia House record club reeled you in with 11 LPs for $1. Or how the record labels packaged all their artists on vinyl compilations to tease you. But how are you going to gain the full spectrum of touching and reading everything the record has to offer. A full immersion into the details of who, what, when, where and how. 

I guess it boils down to how seriously you take record collecting. If all you care about is the record being sealed and are happy with whatever pressing you’re getting then It might not matter. But if you have the need to find every version of Led Zeppelin lll, then you might not be able to obtain the information needed to determine that certain LP by online shopping. 

If you’re not critical about the quality of sound and merely enjoy listening to your favorite artist then maybe online stores are for you. Maybe free shipping turns you on.

Remember, it’s not as simple as mashing a button and finding your record at your door. You have to figure in the resources, the climate and ultimately the products’ well being upon delivery. How much paper product will be used in shipping your records? How well is the record packed so it doesn’t split the seams of the cover or crease or ding a corner of the cover? Is your vinyl packaged to ensure it won’t get wet if left on your doorstep in a rainstorm? Your purchase is an investment so these questions should all be taken into careful consideration. 

Participating in the non-virtual, real world is one good reason to buy from your local brick and mortar shop store. The time you spend in the store around other collectors is invaluable. You can learn about different genres, how to care for LPs and usually unearth a great deal. Not to mention meeting a character or two.

From the musty back room to the impeccably organized record shop the experience is never the same. From the old coger who begrudgingly provides answers to your questions to the very friendly clerk who eagerly wants to turn you on to something new, the storefront record store can be exhilarating. 

On the other hand, buying online allows you the ease of searching through a myriad of selections, genres, artists, and eras. Our site for one has, 10’s of thousands of listings well organized and categorized for easy picking. If you are searching for that one special record you can save a lot of time by looking online rather than flipping through hundreds of dusty bins.

In the end it boils down to what your immediate needs are. There are plenty of great places to buy vinyl online.

There are many great online stores that have a good reputation and offer cool deals for collecting vinyl albums. If you find one that you trust that meets your musical needs then that can be a good resource for your vinyl record purchasing. Building your album collection takes a long time and you’ll find they can come from anywhere. Each record has a story and it is all about how adventurous you want to be.

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