Memphis is a musicians’ city, and music stores are crucial in connecting musicians to their fans and providing a physical space where music fans can gather, exchange opinions, browse, and purchase. Today, music is accessible via countless applications and websites that can be accessed in seconds on a a number of devices. But as soaring vinyl and CD sales illustrate, there is something irreplaceably rewarding about owning your own physical music collection. Record stores, of course, are still the best places to start building your collection and perhaps learning about some new music along the way. Here are five must-visit stores for music lovers of all stripes.
2152 Young Ave
A Memphis record label since 1994 and a record store for 18 years, Goner is a tried and true example of an excellent local record store. Goner buys and sells new and used vinyl and has an affinity for Memphis’ unique blend of punk and garage that lifted off their label in the 90s. The label also hosts a successful yearly live music festival, the aptly named Goner Fest, which will soon be celebrating its twenty-first year. Browse their website to check out new stock and staff picks.
Go here to buy: Garage music, punk, and bands with deep ties to the Goner label like King Kahn & BBQ Show, Jay Reatard, and Reining Sound.
1916 Madison Ave
This record lover’s wonderland, located in a cute house smack in the center of midtown Memphis, has reigned as one of the country’s best record stores for over three decades. A local favorite for crate digging, Shangri-La is the record store for those who love to get lost in the stacks for hours. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, Shangri-La is an indispensable resource for anyone who wants to begin building their Memphis music collection, offering CDs, tapes, and vinyl from Stax, Sun, Hi, and more. Be sure to check out their website for the latest episode of the Shangri-La podcast, which features interviews with local Memphis artists and news about the store.
Go here to buy: All things local (both old and new), soul and R&B, and CDs from every genre
River City Records
101 S Main St.
A recent addition to the local music landscape, River City Records is located downtown on Main Street, and helps to fill the record store gap west of midtown. Despite opening in 2021, the store has a wide selection of music that is accessible for locals and tourists alike. A growing selection of new local releases sits near the front of the store, and Elvis records have a special designation.
Go here to buy: New releases of every genre, local releases, cool t-shirts.
149 Beale Street
The aptly named Memphis Music claims to be the largest blues specialty store in the world, and we certainly won’t question this assertion. Located on Beale Street, this store lives up to its historic location by carrying both the latest and greatest in blues, classic rock n roll, gospel, and soul. While Memphis Music carries a selection of albums on vinyl, their selection of new CDs is probably the best in the city.
Go here to buy: Blues music and new CDs.
163 Beale Street
Opened since 1876 (!), A. Schwab is a true Memphis icon and a relic of a bygone era. Although they are best known for a dizzying collection of knick-knacks and sundries, they also have a pretty impressive music collection on the second floor. From Big Star to Junior Kimbrough, Schwab’s has all of your local favorites on CD and vinyl. And given their legacy and location, it wouldn’t surprise us one bit if many of these legendary performers once shopped in the store themselves.
Go here to buy: Must-have regional music on CD and vinyl