This year was a huge year for vinyl records, far bigger than anything the industry has seen in the last three decades. Billboard reports that 2.11 million vinyl records were sold between December 17 – 23, the most since MRC Data began tracking music sales in 1991. It also marked the first time that vinyl sales crossed the two million mark in this period. This comes after the Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA) reported last month that vinyl sales accumulated $467 million in sales by mid-2021. This more than doubles the $207 million in sales that were generated halfway into 2020 while opening the door for a billion-dollar year in the vinyl record industry.
There are plenty of reasons for this jump in vinyl sales, with most having to do with consumers increasing interest in the novelty and vintage item that’s still connected to today’s music. This interest is catered to by record stores all over the country as well as the annual Record Store Day campaign. While big artists like Adele, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo, and more are responsible for a heavy percentage of vinyl sales, the companies that go above and beyond with their consumers also played a large part in this. Stores that seek to do more than sell vinyl, and instead, build themselves as staples in their communities will always have old customers coming back while piquing the interest of new ones.
Plenty of stores across the country do this, but there’s a specific uniqueness and communal aspect that’s present in Black-owned record stores. So here are six Black-owned record stores across the country that helped to give vinyl sales its biggest year in decades.
Moodies Records (Bronx, NY)
The Bronx’s Moodies Records remains a cultural stamp in New York. From its inception in 1982, late founder Earl Moodie provided a limitless collection of vinyl records with a focus on reggae, dancehall, rocksteady, and other Jamaican music. This past fall, Earl Moodie passed away at 69 years old after being sick for a few years. “There was not a sad day to him,” a longtime customer said to Brooklyn News 12 about the late Moodie and his store. “If you went in there sad, he would give you that light. I don’t know how he did it, but he was such an inspirational person.”
Brittany’s Record Shop (Cleveland, OH)
Brittany’s Record Shop will pretty much give a decent selection from multiple genres to pick from. Whether it’s hip-hop, reggae, soul, or jazz, you’ll find it at the Cleveland, OH shop. Their selections get more specific with crates dedicated to Brazilian, Latin, and Afro-funk. However, selling records is just half the job for Brittany Benton. She handpicks every vinyl in the store and helps guide shoppers to new sounds — consider her the Spotify of vinyl records. “When I can make a recommendation that really sticks,” she says in an interview with Cleveland’s Spectrum News, “it definitely validates me, because I know I’m doing the right thing.” Brittany’s Record Shop is temporarily closed at the moment, but a reopening is planned for some point in 2022.
JB’s Record Lounge (Atlanta, GA)
Many of the biggest records in the music world today come from artists based in Atlanta. Whether it’s rappers (Lil Baby), singers (Summer Walker), or pop stars (Lil Nas X), the city has something for you. It’s also the home of JB’s Record Lounge which is far more than you’re typical record store. The company started as a quarterly crate-digging party in owner Jonathan Blanchard’s basement. What began as a collection of 1,000 records quickly grew to 13,000 records leaving all while maintaining the liveliness and community bonding that helped it grow. It also allowed Blanchard to carry a bold claim about his business. “I also will be carrying some of the best vinyl this side of the Mississippi,” he said in a GoFundMe video according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Out Of The Past Collectibles (Austin, TX)
Charlie Joe and Marie Henderson are the proud owners of Austin, TX’s Out Of The Past Collectibles store, and they have been since its opening 35 years ago back in 1986. It boasts a massive collection of jazz, blues, soul, pop, old and new school R&B, and hip-hop vinyl that span the store’s ten rooms, filled with over a million items. Out Of The Past Collectibles isn’t just limited to vinyl though. They also carry antiques, CDs, DVDs, cassette tapes, 8-tracks, and more. Long story short, as their listing on Visit Austin’s website reads, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it!”
Fivespace (San Diego, CA)
If you happen to live or find yourself on the West Coast and want to get lost in a collection of hip-hop vinyl, San Diego’s Fivespace has just what you’re looking for. Cassettes and select vintage clothing can also be found at the North Park location as the store aims to cater to “consumers interested in vintage design and music products.” During an interview with SD Voyager, owner Sir Frederick promised that a chat with him or the other owners of Fivepsace will result in “a whole new world of styles, artists, and genres to discover that are tailored to your individual tastes.”
Offbeat (Jackson, MS)
In a few years, Phillip Rollins (aka DJ Young Venom) will celebrate the tenth anniversary of his Jackson, MS record store Offbeat. Since its opening in 2014, Offbeat has grown into a home for new and old releases, reissues, and used records that buyers can sift through and choose. A collection of collectibles, pins, apparel, and more can also be found at Offbeat. For Rollins, the store is a visual representation of his goal to “create a space that would have a lasting effect on the state of Mississippi,” and the store’s website reads. Influenced by art from all unconventional aspects of the world, Rollins is doing a great job of highlighting the overlooked corners that his store helps to bring attention to.