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Ranking the top 5 record stores in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Amid the resurgence of vinyl, the Minneapolis-St. Paul area is home to some amazing independent record stores.
Image by Graphic by Morgan La Casse
There are more vinyl stores in the metro area than the list, yet these are the best places to shop in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis and St. Paul are home to many great record stores for those who collect vinyl. Here are the top five best in the Twin Cities (not counting record stores in the suburbs, although Mill City Sound in Hopkins, Down in the Valley in Golden Valley and Solsta Records in St. Louis Park are great options outside of the heart of the Twin Cities):

  1. Extreme Noise Records

Located in South Minneapolis on Lake Street is Extreme Noise Records — a volunteer-run punk rock record store.

Extreme Noise is a great store for vinyl heads who are particularly into punk rock, alternative rock and metal — as almost all of their inventory falls under one of the three categories. While this is a strength for fans of those genres, if you are in the market for hip-hop or jazz, this may not be the store for you.

As Extreme Noise specializes in punk rock and associated subgenres, you can find used copies of albums by seminal punk bands Black Flag, Bad Religion and the Misfits in stock any time you come into the store. You can also leave with a band T-shirt, as the store is well stocked with rock tees in all sizes.

With its selection of vinyl records, merchandise and books, Extreme Noise is a must-visit for punk rock devotees.

  1. Disco Death Records

Disco Death is a unique destination for Minneapolis record collectors because, in addition to having a great selection of used vinyl, the store also houses a coffee shop and an area to develop film.

Even though the store is not exclusively dedicated to selling vinyl, Disco Death has a wide-ranging collection of albums to sift through with dedicated sections for rock, hip-hop, soul, electronic and rarities.

The vinyl selection is impressive — a tell-tale sign of a great record store is a well-curated used vinyl selection. Disco Death delivers there as well as providing a relaxed place to hang out and spend time in with their coffee shop seating.

  1. Electric Fetus

Likely the most well-known record store in the Twin Cities, the Electric Fetus is famous for its decades-long history, the inescapable smell of incense when you walk in the door, a well-organized vinyl selection and even some celebrity customers (most notably Prince).

Prince was a loyal customer of the Electric Fetus, having shopped there just days before his death and giving the Fetus a shoutout on Twitter on Record Store Day 2016. The store has since become a destination for Prince fans from around the world making the pilgrimage to the Minneapolis area to see other Prince landmarks like Paisley Park. The store has a dedicated Prince section, marked in the Soul/R&B section with Prince’s iconic Love Symbol.

At the 2010 Grammy Awards, The Beatles drummer Ringo Starr presented an award wearing an Electric Fetus T-shirt. A framed photograph of the iconic drummer sporting the shirt hangs behind the gift shop counter at the store.

Electric Fetus is laid out and organized very well. While many record stores have countless unorganized new arrival bins to sift through (which is still fun, in a different way), only a couple of new arrival bins at the front of the Fetus’ record department are not alphabetized. All other records and CDs in the store are sorted alphabetically — when it comes to new vinyl, most of it you can find labeled by artist. 

This commitment to an organized record inventory is a strong point of the store; it makes the space easy to navigate when searching for a particular vinyl record.

While the Fetus has a strong layout and organization, its selection of new vinyl could use some beefing up. While the Fetus does a great job at stocking weekly new releases, shoppers can also find the vast majority of their inventory at most other Twin Cities record stores in their respective “new” vinyl sections. 

That withstanding, the Fetus is one of the best places in the Twin Cities to find used vinyl, as the store brings in an eclectic, ever-changing mix of records to the new arrival bins throughout the week.

  1. Agharta Records

The most underrated record store in the Twin Cities is also the closest to the University of Minnesota. Agharta Records (commonly mispronounced and misspelled as Agartha) is covered from floor to ceiling in music posters and is packed full of bins of great records to flip through. Agharta offers an incredible selection of new and used vinyl of all genres.

With most record stores, when it comes to brand-new sealed records, most stock the same titles by the same artists. However, Agharta proves time and time again to be a store that stocks a different selection of new records than your typical record store. If you have been keeping your eye out for a particular record and have not found it at other local record stores, Agharta just might have it.

On top of its selection, Agharta’s prices are outstanding as well. Even with many of their new records labeled as imports, you can find several brand-new releases at lower prices than at competing stores (an example being PJ Harvey’s new album “I Inside the Old Year Dying,” selling for nearly $30 at Electric Fetus but for about $5 less at Agharta).

  1. Cheapo Discs

Cheapo Discs takes the crown for best record store in the Twin Cities because of how well-rounded it is as a physical media emporium. The Minneapolis location is massive in scale compared to any other record store in the area. With tall walls decorated floor-to-ceiling with colorful vinyl records and music posters, the sheer size of the store is something to behold.

Naturally, such a big retail space has a lot of room for a great media inventory. There are many long rows of new and used vinyl records and CDs. On the walls of the interior perimeter of Cheapo are shelves upon shelves of DVDs, Blu-rays, band merch, posters, some cassette tapes and even more vinyl.

Cheapo rises above the rest when it comes to its selection. If you are looking for a particular new or used album, poster, band T-shirt or movie, your odds of finding it are better at Cheapo than most other record stores, thanks to their incredible and varied inventory.

In addition to their unbelievably eclectic Minneapolis store, Cheapo also has locations in St. Paul and Blaine. When it comes to being an all-around physical media retail haven, Cheapo rises above the rest.

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