Carrying the beat: Minneapolis’ best record shops

From minuscule to massive, there’s plenty of refuge for local audiophiles

Downloading music is great. The ability to access almost any record âÄî no matter how obscure âÄî and possess it within an instant is an obvious luxury. Still, and not to sound like a blindly nostalgic old-timer, whereâÄôs the heart? Well, thankfully, it exists. Following familiar old ventricles like Lake Street, Lyndale Avenue and Hennepin Avenue can lead any lover of the increasingly rare, but still relevant, smallish independent record stores straight to the sweet, sweet aorta , err, shops. The following is the best Minneapolis has to offer in terms of community-minded, diversely stocked and oftentimes vinyl-centric record shops. Cheapo (Uptown) 1300 W. Lake St., Minneapolis Cheapo is equal parts theme park and shop for music buffs. The sprawling warehouseâÄôs goods can entice visitors for hours and for good cause. The wooden bins donning CheapoâÄôs trademark white/red color scheme spread on for hundreds of feet with new and used CDs. Local music is prominently featured and is flanked by DVDs, accessories and merchandise. The upstairs barn-like appeal can be overwhelmingly gigantic, but the smaller basement boasts the citiesâÄô most complete selection of vinyl. ItâÄôd be easy to break out the pretentious hipster card and condemn CheapoâÄôs chain status, but, as a clerk, who simply goes by Chapin puts it, nowhere can you get so much good stuff at a decent price. Electric Fetus 2000 Fourth Ave. S., Minneapolis Clerk David Campbell smirks as he states the obvious: âÄúI have a pretty cool job.âÄù Indeed, Campbell does. The Electric Fetus is, arguably, MinneapolisâÄô most beloved music shop. And, frankly, itâÄôs not hard to see why. Equal parts unique toy/jewelry/clothing/pot accessories and music, The Fetus has been a staple since the late âÄô60s âÄî a pretty good era to start a record shop. Today, thereâÄôs obviously been some mainstreaming and modernizing with newish finished wood floors and a boutique-ish wing of merchandise, but the focus on music remains. A perfect intermediate size that combines CheapoâÄôs selection with the smaller guyâÄôs charms, The Electric FetusâÄô bins of new/used CDs also allure both the chainsâÄô casual fans and the true indiesâÄô purists. Treehouse Records 2557 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis Formally known as Oar Folkjokeopus , Treehouse was rebranded with its current name nine years ago, but the history remains. From the âÄô70s through the âÄô80s, Treehouse was the hub of the burgeoning Minneapolis punk scene and âÄî famously âÄî local heroes The Replacements made the shop their hangout. Today, Treehouse calls itself âÄúThe WorldâÄôs Last Record StoreâÄù and, gauging from the veneer, hasnâÄôt aged a bit. Still specializing in underground and local music, clerk Emily Moore says the shop remains popular. âÄúEveryone comes in, from 13-year-old kids with their dads to 85-year-old guys finding their treasured LPs.âÄù Fifth Element 2411 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis ThereâÄôs nothing frilly about Fifth Element. A store for the hip-hop obsessed, the stripped, minimalistic shop is composed of one lengthy vinyl bin, one equally full of CDs, plenty of T-shirts and a tiny performance stage speckled with DJ equipment in the corner. Manager Felipe Cuavhtli makes it clear, though, when he says his favorite part of Fifth Element is the community vibe. Owned by local powerhouse label Rhymesayers Entertainment , the shop serves as a meeting place and networking hub for anyone interested in a thriving Minneapolis hip-hop scene. Roadrunner Records 4304 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis Impossibly small and located not within the hipness of Uptown but, rather, in a residential neighborhood, it seems like Roadrunner would struggle to survive. ThatâÄôs before you talk to veteran music buff and shopkeeper Dan Rein. âÄúA lot of young people come in and buy vinyl,âÄù Rein said. âÄúItâÄôs great because eventually weâÄôll [older generations] all die off.âÄù ItâÄôs clear via RoadrunnerâÄôs barred windows, vintage metal roof and wall of âÄúprizedâÄù vinyl they cater to music purists. And that just may be what keeps them afloat. Extreme Noise 407 W. Lake St., Minneapolis Collectively owned by around 30 folks, Extreme Noise is unabashedly punk rock. Dark, narrow and absolutely brimming with punk magazines, buttons, shirts, records and CDs, the shop exudes D.I.Y. punk mentality âÄî even down to the handwritten tags found on the records explaining just how cool they are. Extreme NoiseâÄôs niche is clear, but thereâÄôs still some diversity in the clientele, explains clerk Shivaun Watchorn, âÄúItâÄôs united around punk and hardcore, but young crusty kids come in and old guys do, too.âÄù Other Favorites: Hymies 3318 East Lake St. Vital 3 W. 15th St . Know Name Records 6009 Portland Ave. S .