I’ve been in love with record stores for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of my parents taking me to the local Newbury Comics to pick out new CDs (vinyl hadn’t come back into fashion yet). I recall rushing to the store with my dad and sister after school to get the latest *NSYNC release. Sometimes we’d get to go and pick out x number of CDs as a reward for a school or sports accomplishment.

Once I had a license and a car, I’d take myself to Newbury Comics and spend hours there looking through every bin and every row of music. Even as the iTunes and online streaming had come to fruition, I still found solace in discovering music “the old fashioned way.” I was a bit of a loner in high school and didn’t spend my afternoons hanging out at friends houses. If I wasn’t at a sports practice or catching reruns of THE OC on the Soap Network, I was probably at the record store.

After my parents gave me a record player for Christmas, it was game over. I hadn’t been buying CDs much anymore, and although I enjoyed exploring an discovering new music online, I missed feeling personally connected the discovery process. The first time I went to Amoeba Records to buy vinyl, I dropped an easy $500. I had to start my collection after all. I’ve gotten better about my vinyl spending habits since then, but it’s always a splurge I’m willing to make.

The summer after I graduated from college, my depression took a step backwards and one way I chose to cope was by exploring all of the record stores Orange County has to offer. I had Wednesdays off, so each week I’d pick a new record store and a corresponding donut shop to try. I spent more money than I should have, but at least I had Wednesdays to look forward to. At a time when it was harder than ever to be by myself, I was able to do something that brought me joy and helped me feel less alone. Now with my depression somewhat managed, I still enjoy the thrill of sorting through records. Finding something new from and old favorite, or even finding something a little strange in the bargain bin, gives me a rush of endorphins. I can’t think of anything more relaxing than laying on the carpet in my room while listening to a new stack of vinyl.

Music has always been an escape for me and going to record stores has become my favorite way to check out from the “real world” from time to time. If you ever want to discover new music, I highly recommend heading over to your local record store. I’ve only ever encountered friendly staff members eager to help and share their favorite music! Spotify’s algorithms can only tell you so much. Get out there and talk to a human to discover some real gems. Streaming connections come and go, but vinyl is forever!

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