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Record Shop-Hopping: Four Vinyl Shops To Visit On Your Lunch Break

When you have a large gap between lectures, or just a little extra time to spare on your lunch break, how would you decide to spend it?

The last time I found myself in this situation, I decided to go for a walk–and in just over an hour, I’d made it around four vinyl shops in and around Soho, all just a few minutes away from each other. Who knew there were so many around there?

Well, now you do! Here’s a rundown on what I found, so next time you’re in the area, you can come out with a few more purchases–or at least a better knowledge of where to find the next best vinyl for your collection.

(I was not sponsored to say any of the following about any of the businesses mentioned in this article.)

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FOPP, WC2H 9LL

First up is FOPP, which is stocked up to the brim with brand-new vinyls in all their glossy-packaged glory; they also sell a vast range of films, books, and CDs. You could maybe grab a bargain from a small sales bin in the corner, but expect to pay between £20 and £50 on average for most of the vinyls–though, given the high quality and newness of the stock, this is to be expected. If you're looking for your favourite artist's latest release, FOPP is probably your best bet!

Reckless Records, W1F 8RH

Reckless Records are second-hand specialists–they’ve been a well-known buyer and seller of vinyl since 1984. There’s no way of telling the quality of the vinyl or what it sounds like, unlike with FOPP (whose releases are modern enough that you can try to look them up on Spotify or YouTube as you’re browsing) or Phonica (who have their own in-store playback systems)–but there's such a large selection, and all so affordable, that maybe it’s worth taking the risk. If the thought of a potential scratch on the vinyl bothers you, they have a number of sealed ones you can check out, too.

Sounds of the Universe, W1F 0DA

As the name suggests, Sounds of the Universe specialises in sounds from all around the world–their website boasts that “with regular shipments from the USA, Jamaica, Japan, Brazil and Europe[,] we reckon that [...] you are now looking at the largest selection of Reggae, Dubstep, House, Disco, Funk and Soul, Brazilian, Latin, African and world beats in the UK.” Their shop layout is bright and clear, while their labeling makes it easy to find the genre you’re looking for– like FOPP, they also sell CDs, books, and DVDs, while their collection of vinyl seems like an interesting mixture between new and second-hand. As you enter, there’s even a table with business cards and leaflets scattered across it, which might just point you to your next night out.

Phonica Records, W1F 7LZ

It’s a matter of personal preference, but Phonica was my favourite of the four shops. Their selection is huge and very affordable, and you can easily find some hidden gems in the sale section. This shop seems to be more for instrumental tracks and vinyls for mixing than established artists’ releases (though they do still have some), so if you’re interested in using the vinyl to DJ, Phonica is definitely the one for you. Their selection is more club sounds–house, tech, electro–than world music, so whether or not you find anything you like really depends on what you’re looking for. They also sell CDs and a small selection of merchandise–mostly clothing and tote bags. In-store iPads and turntables allow you to preview almost any record they have before buying it, which is invaluable in the digital age, when it seems easier to just stream music without taking the risk of buying a vinyl you can’t preview and therefore might not like. A shop that’s almost impossible to leave without a bag in your hands!

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Phew, that was a lot, but in no time at all. You might be out of money by the time you get back to campus, but at least you won’t be out of breath.

A first-year Comparative Literature student with a passion for all forms of art. If I'm not writing about art, I'm probably making it!
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