Vinyl sales hit a 25-year high in 2016 so it’s no surprise there is an abundance of new record stores opening their doors all across Melbourne. Here in the north there has always been a solid foundation of independent record stores keeping the vinyl dream alive, but there is no doubt the past few years have seen a rise in new businesses plying their trade in vinyl. While it’s hard to pick the best, as we support anyone promoting new and local music, we’ve put our heads together here at Inner Circle and picked our favourite record stores we just can’t do without.
First opening way back in 1981 as Dizzy Spinners, this Fitzroy institution slowly evolved over the years into its current form as Polyester Records. Claiming on their website to be “dedicated to supporting independent music both locally and from overseas,” it’s hard to argue when you see what’s on offer in store.
Stocking one of the largest ranges of not only vinyls, but CDs, DVDs, books and concert tickets, Polyester has built a loyal customer base over the years and remains one of Melbourne’s most recognised record stores.
Polyester also have their own record label specialising in limited runs of local releases and are known for the odd in-store gig, often from high profile musicians passing through. The staff are also exceptional, be it offering advice on new music or helping you track down a hard to find original pressing.
Location: 387 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Website: Polyester Records
Heartland Records is another music store with a great history, having been in business for over two decades. Originally based on Peel Street in the CBD during its first incarnation, the shop now operates out of a much larger space in North Melbourne.
Known for its dedicated heavy metal section, Heartland also stocks a wide range of musical genres, spanning alternative, punk, classic rock and modern indie. While it’s all about the vinyl, Heartland also sells an array of CDs, with owner Paul Cook always about to offer a helping hand or just have a chat about music in general.
Location: 420/422 Victoria Street, North Melbourne
Website: Heartland Records
Renowned as the place DJs and serious collectors visit, Northside Records gets a big thumbs up for the variety of soul and funk on offer. There’s a wide range of new and second-hand records in store covering soul, reggae, funk, dancehall, funk, disco and hip-hop.
They regularly receive shipments from prominent labels such as Daptone, Truth & Soul and Wax Poetics so are always stocking the freshest records alongside rare and hard to find vinyls. Like Polyester, Northside has its own label run by headhonco Chris Gill, focusing on local soul and funk acts right here in Melbourne.
Location: 236 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
Website: Northside Records
Round & Round Records
Located at the far end of Sydney road amongst a barrage of bridal stores, Round & Round Records is one of the most diverse offerings on this list. Run by three passionate music lovers (Jeff Wybrow, Joe Cowan and Dave Lang), Round & Round claim to have the “best selection of Krautrock, Italian prog and avant-jazz in Melbourne, “ along with stocking everything from heavy metal and electronica, through to modern day pop starlets such as Taylor Swift.
Round & Round sell both new and second hand vinyl (so there is always a bargain to be had) and have a tremendous selection of rare and hard to find titles. There’s also a record player set up so you can try before you buy, something missing from many modern stores these days.
Location: 513 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Website: Round & Round Records
A relatively new player, Vinyl.’s originally began as an online and pop-up store for two years before finally finding it’s feet as a bricks and mortar store in Fitzroy. Started by four music loving friends (who still work day jobs while running the store), Vinyl. is a record only store with over 1600 titles available.
Selling only new records ordered straight from the suppler, they stock a healthy supply of Aussie and New Zealand artists amongst well-known international artists. Vinyl. regularly have in-store performances and signings from a raft of local talents and the owner’s great musical knowledge and love of all things vinyl make visiting a relaxed and enjoyable experience.
Location: 276 Nicholson Street, Fitzroy
Entering The Searchers is a diggers dream with shelves and shelves of records lining the walls and taking up all the available space. Dealing in both new and pre-loved vinyl and like most of the stores on this list, The Searchers has a great variety of records covering rock, punk, pop, soul and everything else you can imagine. Music is separated by genre making it easy to locate what you’re after.
Along with records, The Searchers has a huge selection of books for sale and is a favourite amongst Fitzroy locals.
Location: 93 Smith Street, Fitzroy
Website: The Searchers