CC - David Wilson

Best Record Stores in San Francisco

in Music News by

San Francisco is striving to preserve music stores that are dwindling in numbers. The growing number of online stores and their ability to offer high discounts have curbed their sales. Many international music stores, have fallen prey to skyrocketing rental price and heavy competition from internet Privacy. A few famous music stores of San Francisco that shut shop over the past few years are Rasputin Records Music, Tower Records and Discolandia.

San Francisco has come up with a lot of innovative initiatives in order to save the brick & mortar music shops from vanishing. One such event is the ‘Record Store Day’ (since 2008), strictly dedicated to saving independent music stores that have a minimum of 70% of its ownership located in the place of operation. It offers a platform for the staffs, customers and artists to meet each other. The celebrations include performance, DJ record spinning, parades and music release.

In spite the competition few music stores still remain in San Francisco that have a long list of loyal customers who keep them up and running

Amoeba Music

One of the world’s biggest independent music store that offers around one million new, as well as used vinyl records, audio tapes and CDs. Its versatile collection of diverse music genres like jazz, rock, classical, and hip hop has made the store gain the popularity, it is basking on.

Aquarius Records

 It is one of the oldest music stores of San Francisco. It has an enormous collection of music and popular for the variety they offer in rock music like blues, Latin, hip-hop, folk etc. The collection is un-imaginable. Though not remarkably large in space the store is very well known for its archive of new/recent releases. They also include local music bands and DIY artists. Aquarius Records were listed third, among the stores to be visited before one’s death.

Recycled Records

It first opened in North Beach (1997), is best known for its assorted collections of rare music records.

101 Music

 They have 2 outlets in San Francisco. Their product line has everything a music enthusiast might look for. The store’s collection includes vinyl records, audio tapes, CDs and music instruments. Their collection of guitar is of a particular interest to many.

Explorist International

 A long time resident of the popular music destination, Explorist International came into existence because ‘The Explorist’, understood the need for more independent music store in San Francisco. They are unique as they concentrate on bringing forward those records that are usually found on the back section. Their focus is on vintage and experimental music, mostly liked by the modern music lovers. They also conduct promotional events within the store, to draw the attention.

Groove Merchant

The owner, ‘Cool Chris’, is known to have the coolest vinyl records ever. It is interesting to know they started out as a section within the premises of Rooky Ricardo’s Records another popular store in San Francisco.

The other stores that are still holding onto the competition are Originals Vinyl, Vinyl Dreams, Jack’s Record Cellar and Grooves Inspiralled Vinyl.

Rasputin Records

Rasputin Music is the largest independent chain of record stores in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. It was founded as “Rasputin Records” in 1971 in Berkeley, California by entrepreneur Ken Sarachan. It is named after 19th century Russian religious figure Grigori Rasputin.

Rasputin Music currently operates seven locations around the Bay Area: the flagship Berkeley store at 2401 Telegraph Avenue, San Francisco, Newark, Campbell,[1] Pleasant Hill, San Lorenzo, and Fairfield. There are also three locations in the Central Valley cities of Modesto, Stockton and Fresno.

Photo courtesy of David Wilson – Creative Commons – Flickr



Having released albums under Digital Nations, a label founded by Steve Vai, music critic Louis Raphael has remained deeply connected to the pulse of the San Francisco music scene. Following his tenure as the San Francisco Music Examiner for and, he embarked on creating Music in SF® to authentically highlight the vibrant offerings of the city's music scene.

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