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Guide and Map to Washington’s Independent Record Stores

We've put together a guide to some of our favorite Washington-area independent music stores—along with videos of record-store owners telling us what they love about their stores. Local bloggers and musicians also fill us in on their favorite spots. Read o

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Local Bands and Bloggers Talk About Independent Record Stores | Get a video tour of a DC record store

CD Cellar
709 B W. Broad St.; 703-534-6318;; (the Clarendon location closed at the end of March, but will reopen in June across from its original spot at 2597 Wilson Blvd.)
Manager/buyer David Schlank attended George Mason as a communications major, but his love for skimming through Northern Virginia’s music offerings and the need for more help at the store landed Schlank at the Cellar in 1994. In his college years Schlank used to comb the stacks of a half-dozen Northern Virginia independent record stores—only one of his frequent stops remains open today: Record & Tape Xchange.  Schlank has watched children and adults come in to pick from tens of thousands of music titles or stop at the shop’s listening stations over the years. He says he’s then seen children become parents and bring in their newborns to teach them about music. “I want to believe that there is always going to be room in the world for a place like this,” he says. “There are people who really love the hunt, that really love to have the CD in their hands.”

Crooked Beat Records
2318 18th St., NW; 202-483-2328
Specializing in hard-to-find CDs and LPs, check out this popular Adams Morgan store for your non-mainstream needs. They’re celebrate National Record Store Day with grab bag goodies and prizes.

DJ Hut
2010 P St., NW, Second Floor; 202-659-2010
True to its name, this Dupont outpost caters more to the local DJ community than to collectors. The store has a particularly large selection of hip hop, R&B, and electronica, as well as turntable accessories. DJ Hut does carry some rare records, but you’re more likely to find the latest Portishead or Santogold here.

Melody Records
1623 Connecticut Ave., N.W.; 202-232-4002
The selection at this Dupont outpost, operating in DC since 1977, ranges from jazz and pop to international and classical. The shop carries more than 200,000 CD titles and will special order CDs if needed. Can’t make it to Dupont? Melody Record shop also has an online store with even more CD titles than it has in the store.

Orpheus Records
173 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington; 703-294-6774
It’s true: Orpheus is closing. You still have some time to check it out, though—and get deals to boot. Richard Carlisle, owner of the Clarendon locale for 34 years, says he already started his going out of business sale, and the shop will be open with reduced prices through Independent Record Store Day—and beyond. Carlisle originally saw his lease extended through the month of April, and now Orpheus doesn’t plan to shut its doors until the end of May. On sale: 100,000 LPs (all prices with dollar amounts are half off), with CDs for as little as $1. Most vinyl is 50 percent off, too.

Record & Tape Xchange
9448 Main St., Fairfax; 703-425-4256
RTX, around since 1976, specializes in buying, selling, and exchanging CDs, records, or movies. They’ll give you cash for your old goods (most of the time) or store credit for 50 percent more than the cash value.

Red Onion Records & Books
1901 18th Street NW; 202.986.2718
Blink and you might miss Josh Harkavy’s basement store on 18th Street. Opened only about a year-and-a-half ago, this record-and-book store has already built a niche clientele that includes Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard. Check out what Harkavy had to say about independent record stores.

Roadhouse Oldies
958 Thayer Ave., Silver Spring; 301-587-1858
Owned by two professional radio DJs, this store specializes in oldies-but-goodies, including 1950-60s rock, Motown, and doo-wop, and 1970-80s soul. Pick up your favorite beats on 45s, LPs, cassettes, CDs, and DVDs, and bring in used CDs (in good condition) for cash or store credit.

Smash! Records
2314 18th, NW (second floor); 202-387-6274
Not only can you satisfy your punk, indie, and alternative-rock music needs here, the store can also help you look the part—vintage and indie fashions are for sale. The shop will buy LPs, CDs, and vintage clothing items.

Som Records
1843 14th Street NW; 202-328-3345
We imagine a wet dream from Seymour, the awkward, middle-aged record collector from Ghost World, to look something like this basement store: walls covered with records, the stuffy smell of nostalgia, and a collection of rare blues vinyls. Neal Becton’s store also boasts a large assortment of stock from around the world, including some truly fantastic Brazilian samba records.

Did we miss a favorite record store of yours? Let us know in the comments and we'll update the post.

Local Bands and Bloggers Talk About Independent Record Stores | Get a video tour of a DC record store

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