In addition to providing the opportunity to support commonly underrepresented identities in the music business and vinyl world, the founders, owners and operators' own experience often bleeds into the way a store or label is run — from the environment that’s created in the store, to the way artists are treated, to the curation of what’s in the bins or on a roster. As the owner of San Francisco’s Pyramid Records, Bobby McCole, told The Vinyl Factory about why he wanted to opened his doors, “The concept of having a store that felt comfortable to women and queer people was always a goal.”
So whether you’re mapping out your next roadtrip (around a record store visit, of course), itching to scroll some digital shelves or simply looking to peruse a killer roster of talent to bulk up your listening queue, we hope you find something you love from the handful of picks below.
Record Store: The Groove in Nashville, Tennessee
Located in East Nashville and established in 2007, The Groove’s motto is “Where music is for everyone.” Among the shelves in their house-like store, you’ll find a laid-back, friendly atmosphere and a wide assortment of new and used vinyl, CDs and cassettes across genres.
Check out the shop here.
Record Store: Wax Trax Records in Denver
While it was eventually sold to new ownership so the previous owners could pursue launching a label by the same name, this record store was founded in 1975 by life partners Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher. They sought to introduce Denver to rare punk, rockabilly, glam, garage rock, R&B records, and while they carry an even wider variety of genres now, their legacy lives on among the shelves to this day.
Learn more here.
Record Store: Pyramid Records in San Francisco
Bobby McCole’s Pyramid Records is the embodiment of the phrase “labor of love.” He even hand-built all of the shelves and display cases that line the walls and house the records. Like many physical record stores across the country, the store is currently closed due to the impact of COVID-19 and its future remains uncertain, but keep an eye on their social media for updates.
Record Store: Markarvin Records (online-only)
Founded in 2018 by Mark Arvin, the Manila-based online record store Markarvin Records is an explicitly queer retailer. “What we do in terms of the branding, language, and selections are on the whole a reaction to my queries in the perspective of a queer person collecting music. More than being a store, the aim is to create a virtual hub of acceptance and inclusivity and fill a gap in the scene with queer representation,” Arvin explained in an interview with Dot Digital.
Shop the online store here.
Record Store: Lavender Vinyl in Ogden, Utah
Located on the historic 25th Street in Ogden, Utah, a town with a population of just over 85 thousand, Lavender Vinyl is owned by Kye Hallows and Blake Lundell, who opened the “truly independent record store seeking to bring back the real community record store experience to our hometown, Ogden, Utah.”
Check them out here.
Thrift Outlet: Out of the Closet Thrift Store in Brooklyn & Chicago
While this isn’t explicitly a record store, who doesn’t love the unparalleled rush of uncovering good thrift store record gem? Adding to the feel-good experience, according to their site, when you shop at Out of the Closet Thrift Stores, located in multiple locations across the U.S., you're directly helping people living with HIV and AIDS. Ninety-six cents of every dollar collected at our stores directly fund AIDS Healthcare Foundation's HIV/AIDS programs and their new housing services, as well as on-site pharmacies and free HIV testing.
Find a store near you here.
Learn more about them here.
Label: Flat Pop Records in New York City
Flat Pop Records grew out of the NYC art collective FagMass, with a self-proclaimed focus on helping QTPOC artists to find mainstream success and share their voices without what they call the “corporate dilution” of the major-label model. Rick Marcello, co-founder and president of Flat Pop Records, told Paper Magazine: “When there are thousands upon thousands of people celebrating Pride around the globe, how is the question of queer viability still driving the decisions of which artists to invest in?”
Label: Get Better Records in Philadelphia
Founded in 2009 and run by Alex Lichtenauer and Jenna Pup, their focus is on queer punk, hardcore and alternative music, boasting bands like Potty Mouth, Control Top, THOU and more. If the talent alone wasn’t enough of a sell to get us behind the label (spoiler: it is), their explicit mission of doing work that’s “meant to extend to those who need it most” is.
Learn more about the label here.