Something special is happening on Johnston Street in Fitzroy, Collingwood and Abbotsford. Over the past two years, eight new record stores have opened on or near the thoroughfare. The three suburbs now host 13 vinyl shops between them, packing everything from jazz to punk; bluegrass to techno.
Unlike some of their predecessors in the area, none of these shops were opened on the cheap. Most have well-equipped listening stations, spotless display racks, and in some cases, outrageously pricey machines for cleaning and/or straightening old records. It’s clear: these newcomers are confident they’ll be around for many years to come.
The four mates behind vinyl. spent two years trading online and running pop-ups. This year they decided the time was right to go permanent and opened this rustic brick-and-stone shop on Nicholson Street, 150 metres from Johnston. None of them expect to make any money – all still work day jobs and run the shop for the love of tunes. The shelves are crammed with some 1600 titles, encompassing indie, jazz, punk and more. Look out for the gigs held in-store.
The prices are reasonable, but this is about as luxe as record shopping gets. Owners Tam Patton and Mark Reuten designed the shop’s handsome timber racks themselves, including the handy slide-out drawers. In them you’ll find a huge variety of genres, from surf rock and heavy metal, to soul and industrial techno.
Prior to going on sale, every record is cleaned using a Clear Audio Sonic machine (which employs vibration, not harmful friction) then slipped into a top-of-the-line Blake sleeve.
The warm, plywood-clad Skydiver was the first of two dance-focused stores to open this year. Co-owner Mark Free is responsible for the Daydreams parties and Everyday Coffee, just up the road.
For this store he partnered with Mike Wale, aka Orca; and Tom Moore, one half of Otologic and a member of Animals Dancing. Together they maintain a small, rapidly rotating selection of house, techno, Italo, disco and Balearic. If you have a warped record, they’ll fix it with their fancy Japanese-made record straightener.
If you still need convincing that vinyl is really back for good, look no further than Hub 301. Owner Greg Molinaro ran Rhythm & Soul in Prahran for 15 years, but got out when mp3s and file sharing ruined the market.
After an eight-year break, he’s back with three dedicated listening stations; several racks of brand-new house, techno, disco and soul; and the occasional dubstep or drum’n’bass gem. And the service? He knows his stuff as well as anyone in this town.
It’s too perfect. A record store that specialises in punk, owned by a guy called Richie Ramone. He may not be the former drummer of The Ramones (we don’t think so, anyway), but he does stock an impressive range of new and second-hand rock, metal, pop, folk, indie, hip-hop and more on vinyl, cassette and CD.
Plug Seven Records
Like vinyl., Plug Seven started life as a pop-up and lived on thanks to its customers. Owner Ari Roze works hard for his people, though. He maintains a stock of nearly 10,000 records with the help of regular overseas trips. He’s fond of jazz, hip-hop, Afro and soul, but there’s plenty of rock, blues, disco and Latin in the mix. Roze’s 5000-strong collection of 7-inches might be the city’s most comprehensive, too. Some date back to the ’50s.
Unlike most of the owners on this list, Mick Smajdor didn’t have a long history selling records. And yet, it was obvious to him the market was ready for more players. His shop mostly trades in second-hand pressings of hip-hop, Afro, soundtrack and decent pop. Expect to find some Bowie, Zappa, Dylan and Springsteen. Pick up a CD, book or cassette while you’re there.
Graham Kennedy and Victor Milazzi are experts in music systems, with more than 40 years of experience between them. They’ve filled Vinyl Revival with European hi-fi equipment and a few thousand pressings of major pop and rock albums. Stop in here to find high-end turntables from Project, Rega, Music Hall and Thorens, plus amps, speakers, headphones and radios.
Older record shops near Johnston Street