Setting the record straight with these vinyl stores in the Bay Area

Gillian Reynolds

It is no secret that vinyl records are making a comeback, and it can be hard to choose from the many shops in the Bay Area. With so many genres and options, it’s tough to know where to start. New albums are constantly coming out and more records start to fill shops, making record-buying stressful. Here are three stores rated on a five-point system that each carry large supplies of quality vinyl and offer a fun shopping experience. 

Satisfying your vinyl desires, Watts Music in Novato carries stacks upon stacks of records from every music genre.

Watts Music: 3/5 stars

Watts Music in Novato is a must-visit record store. The store is the smallest out of all the locations I visited, but despite its size, it still has many options with contemporary artists featured. From Travis Scott to Kendrick Lamar to Olivia Rodrigo, Watts has more pop music and singers from this generation. Country, rock and oldies, such as the Jackson Five and The Beach Boys, are also available, but the pop selection is much wider than the other stores. Christmas and holiday music sections are also included. As for the interior design of the store, records and figurines, as well as an old jukebox, give the store a vintage feel. Watts also sells more seven-inch records, which are smaller and normally hold only one or two songs on each side, compared to the other stores. It is also much closer and easier to access than other stores that are farther away. Watts has lots of records on sale, for cheaper prices, allowing everyone to partake in the record-listening experience. Overall the location and selection at Watts are great, but the area around the store is bare, and the size of the store is at fault for docking a few points. It also can’t be ignored that records on such good sales tend to be of lesser quality, raising suspicion as to if they are worth buying. 


Posters displaying musical icons like Billie Holiday overlook bins with assortments of records at Mill Valley Music store.

Mill Valley Music: 4/5 stars

Mill Valley Music on Miller Ave caters to a more specific taste of music, due to its larger inventory of older music. Mill Valley Music is a delightful record store with friendly staff and a great selection of records, including rarer ones. Despite the smaller store size, it offers a substantial selection of music. For those looking to buy music from more contemporary artists, Mill Valley Music also carries records by Arctic Monkeys, Childish Gambino, Billie Eilish and more. But the main attraction of this store is the older rock like Elton John, the Beatles and Fleetwood Mac. The Jazz and Classical sections do not disappoint either and have many instrumental options. Mill Valley Music also offers a wide variety of CDs and tapes. There is usually a sale bin with records for better deals that you should make sure to check out. It is also much closer to Marin and a great local place to shop. Overall the helpful staff, rare record findings, and the closeness in the location are all amazing factors that contribute to the store. The main issue is just how cramped the store is, and that sometimes it can be hard to find records due to how many there are in the store. But regardless, Mill Valley Music is a gem of a store!

Amoeba Record Store in Berkely: 4.5/5

In a lively part of Berkeley, on Telegraph Ave lies Amoeba record store. Surrounding the store are various clothing stores, diverse restaurants and amazing murals to admire. The store is on the larger side, which can feel overwhelming when searching for records, but it offers music for all tastes. Amoeba has a wide selection of many different genres, from rock, indie and jazz to classical or holiday music. Amoeba also carries records from newer artists, so prices are steeper than at other stores. Upon entrance, buyers become transported to the 90s, with posters of bands hanging on the walls and vintage figurines as decor. Amoeba also sells CDs, merchandise, band t-shirts, mugs and candles among other items. Their posters are in excellent condition and not extremely expensive. All of these extra items, combined with the high-quality records make Amoeba an enjoyable store for people to support their favorite artists. Although the location of Amoeba can present an issue as the 40-minute drive from Marin to Berkeley is long, Amoeba is worth it for its great records and funky atmosphere. This store, almost gets a 5/5, the only reason for that half a point is due to the long drive that can mean traffic and stress on the way there. However, the store itself offers close to the perfect record buying experience for anyone!


Out of all the record stores to shop at in the Bay Area, these three are ones that you must visit! Amoeba is great for any music taste and is the biggest of the three stores, Mill Valley Music is smaller and best for older rock and Watts Music is perfect for all your pop music desires. Whether you are just getting into records, or have been a lover of vinyl music all your life, these stores offer different but priceless experiences for buying records.