Wednesday, December 16, 2009

TVD for the Holidays | It's a Washington, DC Record Store Shopping Spree!

Did you know you can walk to four of Washington, DC’s finest record stores in a span of maybe 15-20 minutes? It’s no joke. I do it often.

The folks who wake up each morning, head downtown, and turn on the lights at Crooked Beat Records, Red Onion Records, Smash! Records, and Som Records would like to remind you this holiday season that vinyl makes THE perfect gift for yourself or some other crate digger on your shopping list.

As a reminder, all four shops are dangling a carrot in the form of $25.00 in store credit for ONE winner to extend the season of giving—right to your turntable. That’s $100.00 to wander from store to store in TVD’s very first DC Record Store Shopping Spree.

Here’s how it’ll work: we invite you to sing the praises of your local scene in the comments to this post with contact info (very important!) and the one that warms our collective spirits will be awarded the shopping spree. You don’t have to be a DC resident to enter and win, but you have to redeem your store credit in person at each of the four shops.

We’re choosing the winner for the DC Record Store Shopping Spree on Wednesday, 12/16, to give you the last weekend before the Christmas holiday to make the 20 minute trek from store to store.

( after a Bloody Mary or 5. Trust me on this.)


Anonymous said...

Wow! What a great idea in the spirit of community support. I love that the stores are working together, joining forces to unite against unimaginative gifts this season. I salute you and I'll be shopping. Thanks!

Brian G Flores said...

Whenever I pass Smash! Records, with the mannequin legs on the second floor railing, I think of the late great Big Daddy's Burlesque Club in New Orleans. Great place...good memories.

Matt Tice said...

What a great idea guys.

I'll throw my name into the running.

I find myself going more and more to Som and Crooked Beat during the day on weekends or even to sneak out while at work because not only is the world of vinyl making me fall in love with music again but it also allows me to share my love of music and the beauty of listening to music with the owners and workers of those shops.

More so, I trust them. My roommate is leaving Columbia Heights soon to go to grad school in London and is taking his turntable with him. I decided not to let my collection go to waste and buy my own.

I knew EXACTLY the place to turn to. Without a moment's thought I was emailing Neal at Som and Bill at Crooked Beat for their ideas on a good budget table and what to look for. They didn't hesitate to help a novice vinyl lover and offered great advice with no BS - Something that thankfully will forever be unique to small businesses.

On their advice I found a used Technics SL-1200 MK2 and I LOVE it - and they were happy they were able to help.

I offer this story because for the first time in my six years in DC, I felt part of a community. DC gets blasted for not acting like a community, 'it's too transient' as a common example.

These small community businesses have changed my view on DC considerably simply because when I go to their stores, I love to chat with them about music or new equipment, past stories, or simply spending too much money on vinyl.

I certainly have spent more money than I should, but it doesn't matter to me. When I go to those stores, I feel like I'm going to my neighbor's house.

Thanks for existing!

Matt Tice
Washington, DC

MG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dj macaulay culkin said...

i'm a vinyl junkie and I make it down to all of those record stores about once a week (give or take). But I have to say that Soms and Crooked Beat are personal favorites of mine. I love Soms because you can find just about anything in the dollar bins over there. I have literally sat down on the crates (with cushions of course) for many many hours and come away with David Bowie - Station to Station and The Spinners - The Spinners Greatest Hits (atlantic) and that was just on my last trip. Crooked Beat is also another fav because of the organization they have going on there... your not gonna find as much in the dollar bin at Crooked Beat because they have the records militantly organized, but they have such great stuff from the 80s and the staff are really knowledgeable. And in no way am i hating on Smash or red onion, those places are just a little different. I go to smash for the awesome tape collection that they got going on and red onion has some good stuff, but it is just a smaller store than soms or crooked. all in all i love that these places exist and i think all vinyl heads agree that the quirks of these stores is what makes them unique and keeps us coming back for more and more records. And let's not forget that the record store is still the greatest place to meet fellow music lovers. happy holidays

dj macaulay culkin

xtianDC said...

The best thing about these stores is that they all have their own distinct personality and flavor.

In fact, I can't think of a time where I visited just one of these stores. You know, "as long as I'm in the neighborhood..." I think to myself. Besides, it's good to get that exercise, right?

xtianDC @

Vildgoria said...

My greatest experience at a vinyl store was finding an unopened, sealed Dick Gregory double-LP 'light side/dark side', which had a giant Milton Glaser poster in it. (

DJ RAD said...

I moved to DC a little over 2 years ago and it took me a while to find my scene down here. Up in Boston, where I moved from, I knew where all the hot record stores were, with the best deals and the best finds. When I moved here, I thought DC just didn't have any record stores, or at least I couldn't find any. Then one day I was walking down 14th street and I see a sign for SOM Records outside of the basement store, and an egg-crate full of records that say "Free/Take Me!". I take a look, expecting not to find anything worth grabbing, only to discover about the ENTIRE Stevie Nicks solo career sitting in this pile of free records. Stevie Nicks has always been a personal idol/spiritual adviser of mine, and I had been looking for her stuff on vinyl forever, to no avail. And here she was, being given away, ready for the taking. It was like that box of free records was sitting out there just waiting for me. Seriously, one of the greatest record finds I've ever had, I still can't believe it! After that I had to go inside where I discovered one of the coolest, well-stocked record stores I've ever been in. It was there that I picked up a flyer for one of the DC record fairs being held at the Warehouse on 7th Ave. I decided I def. needed to check it out, and boy was I not disappointed. I had so much fun walking around, drinking beer, listening to music, meeting cool people, and perusing records. I also discovered all the other amazing record stores that DC had to offer. I had found my niche! I slowly but surely started to build up my record collection to the point where I felt comfortable enough giving spinning a shot, and decided I would attempt to DJ. I had my first experience DJing last month at Wonderland Ballroom where I hosted the Pink Sock dance party, which occurs the third Wednesday of every month now. It was awesome, a huge success, and I could never have done it without the amazing opportunities that the DC record scene had provided me. I think back to that day where I found the box full of Stevie Nicks records and I have to think that Stevie must have had a plan for me...

Ryan Adam Duncan
aka DJ RAD

Anonymous said...

i was in d.c. about 4-5 years ago and couldn't find a record store?! i shop regularly in allentown pa at a store that sells ONLY vinyl called double decker records on st. johns street in allentown,pa. the whole front section is new arrivals and is constantly updated daily.the owner is a great guy and is well versed in music and records. there are tons of punk 45s,one giant room that is all .50 lps!!,and 1000s and 1000s of lps i the main store room. you can spend hours here. i have worked in record stores since the late 60s theough the early 80s and this is a great stop. thanks-keith semerod

Lawdrone said...

The guys at Crooked Beat are terrific and exhibited a great amount of patience dealing with the crowds on Record Store Day, but my personal favorite is Red Onion.
Josh has the best characteristics of a small record store owner/clerk without the negatives (not that I've experienced negatives in DC record shops). He's always been nice to me, as well as to anybody else I've seen in the store. The guy deals with everyone considerately and manages to know what he's got in stock in every section of the cozy store. And if it's not there, Josh is more than willing to hunt it down for you.
He's considerate and willing to haggle when buying used merchandise and I've never heard him deny a request to toss a record on the turntable for a prospective customer.
I make it a point to get off at Dupont Circle and walk up to Red Onion every so often to keep up with the great variety of stuff he gets in his shop.
-Bennett (you can email me through my profile)

Kiera Zitelman said...

This is a great idea! I bought my first Som record from the DC Record Fair. Thursday night I was on my way to the Whigs at the Black Cat and walked by Som, I ended up browsing through and talking to the owner about reggae and Lee Perry for about half an hour. Late to the show but completely worth it: a reggae compilation and a cool conversation. I would love to get this spree!

Unknown said...

This is a really great idea guys!! You know how to thank your readers AND support local business! Kudos to TVD :)

Unknown said...

Things I would like to do with this money... In order.

Crooked beat : Some fine new release + something old and wacky (great for both!)
Smash : Finally buy those Black Flag re-presses I've wanted... Plus whatever gems I can find in the new used bins.
Red Onion : I'll definitely be raiding the Mississippi Records and In The Red sections...
Som : Final stop in my normal run (and closest to my house)... I'll probably opt for the elusive Expensive $hit bin- I mean, why not?!


Collin said...

For me the DC record shop scene is defined by what I am used to in North Dakota/the Midwest, which is where I was born and lived until last fall.

That is to say, I am used to a monogamous relationship with one shop that I would have to drive hours to. At any point in time there seems to be (at most) one record store in the entire state. For the past couple of years, that store has been Orange Records. What’s cool about the place is its owner Matt. For one, it puts me to shame that he has opened this credible place when I think he may be a year younger than me. Just kind of a mellow dude with a persistent list on sheets of paper of the things people want. Aesthetically, its really a beautifully cared for, clean, organized and stocked shop, despite the fact that I think he is the only employee. He’s seems eager to strike up a conversation about what to get next. Moreover, he will find anything that anyone expresses even the most remote interest in; obscure stuff for Fargo, too. I mean, I would mention I wanted Jay Dilla’s ‘Welcome to Detroit’ and it would be there the next time I dropped by the city, usually a month later. He always would point it out, and I would feel bad that I got it as a birthday present -- like, buy a backup copy level guilty. Orange Records has a function, its a cultural high-water mark for a city that is growing into a big city and shifting in meaningful ways. He better be there when I go back, he’s kind of a hero.


Until Orange Records opened, ignoring the brief year of Mother’s Records, my friends and I would make a four hundred mile trip to Minneapolis for their music scene. Fifth Element is owned by the Twin Cities label Rhymesayers and it has become a cultural landmark unto its own. There too, its the employees, they make you feel like the coolest person they’ve met and end up loading you with bags full of samplers/promos/posters/stickers/full cds. When you are bored, you can kick back and watch aspiring artists experiment with the store’s decks.


Still, DC’s scene is much more true to the iconic image of record stores as these hidden, bookstore-like places with secret stashes and hidden gems. Like Jamison adeptly pointed out, in sticking to their specifics niches, the aggregate of DC is pretty securely covered. Although, I think that we should really mourn the loss of DJ Hutt, it’s the closest to that one-to-one relationship that I had with Orange. Moreso because of similar taste than anything else. I love Som and Crooked Beat, but at Dj Hut I could go for weeks without stopping by and they would remember what I was looking for last and start pulling out stuff you would never find on your own, but secretly always loved. Actually, I was gone for three months and he had a stack of things I’ve missed. Also, one of my favorite artists was just wandering around the store.

I guess I belong to three music store scenes, all with their own special qualities. But they all share one collective, important quality: you know, those places where you buy because in capitalism it’s supposed to be a vote; even if you could find it for a few bucks cheaper online, you want to pay the cultural tax and personally keep them afloat. Which is why people still buy vinyl, that visceral connection.


Collin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Collin said...

Oh man, now I'm really sentimental about leaving Orange Records and this Arabic food place in Fargo without saying 'bye.' I kind of imagine them waiting for me like Fry's dog.

Favorite thing I ever found at Orange: A 45 of Steve Martin doing King Tut.

With faith in DC's scene, I moved to DC with only two bags. One had clothes, the other had my 1200. Totally better than bringing a coat.

Jon said...

Thank you all for entering - we've chosen our winner. Keep coming back however...we're always giving away free vinyl...