This is not a buzzfeed type of post with record shops you need to visit before you die or bullshit like that. Just one list with the shops that were / are important in my own musical education and 5 tips for those that want to go beyond the usual suspects in Belgium.
My key shops:
Doctor Vinyl, Halle †
During one specific period, when Didier kept it, this shop was my second home. It was when I first started earning money and it had a man behind the counter with a very similar taste as mine with whom I connected on a personal level too. It was my first big dive into the world of record collectors. I spend virtually all my Saturday afternoons there listening to records, drinking beers from the bar on the other side of the street and enjoying the many characters that passed through the shop. It’s probably why I still prefer shops before anything else. The social factor, the interaction, the influences and the sheer fun. These were also the days when Onda Sonora was born.
Kozmic Musik, Brussels
When this was still in the Rue du Midi. Kind of took over from Doctor Vinyl for me when that one closed. The Friday afternoon apero’s that happened there (and often lasted well into the night) are legendary. Coincided with me moving to Brussels. Other people go to bars, sport or other clubs to find a foothold in their new habitat, I went to a record shop. Some of my friendships that started there are still going strong. Also marks my move towards mainly second hand.
Record Collector, Antwerp †
The backroom there was Onda Sonora’s kid-in-the-candystore spot. Cheap records galore. Asorted. Heaven. We’ve spent hours going through crap but found more than a few gems. Going home with more records than an UDG could hold. Paying the woman that never laughs. Having a bolleke afterwards. It’s where digging trips with our little crew started.
Soul & Dance Exchange, Nottinghill London †
It still exists on the first floor of the regular record exchange a few doors down the road but it isn’t the same anymore. Found tons of 90s House, Acid Jazz and Broken Beat there for 1£ and less per record. Dragging the immense loads to Waterloo and afterwards St-Pancras.
Rush Hour, Amsterdam
Still my number one shop for new stuff. Covers my taste quite well and although I rarely visit the shop (certainly not since the direct train to Amsterdam doesn’t ride anymore) I love the personal and friendly service I get. Even though I do my business with them online it still has many of the ups of a real shop (because it is in fact one). I could go Juno but I wouldn’t get treated the same. I need to know the names of who’s serving me.
Veals & Geeks, Brussels
Love this one because I always leave with far more than anticipated. The staff is knowledgeable and likes to share and educate. Since its opening the owner has become a good friend, which is always a good sign. It’s been my introduction into going way deep into the art of buying records. Getting to know the inner workings of this world and stepping up my game.
Really good one specializing in New Wave, early electronica and alike. All things 80s (influenced) with a dark edge. Really friendly owner too (which isn’t as obvious as it should be).
Hors Serie, Brussels
Monsieur Jean, Brussels
Love these two for the fair prices and the finds you can do. Can’t say I always find gems but left them both a couple of times with very reasonably priced rare Belgian New Wave, soundtracks, Moodymann, … . Visit them regularly.
Vinyl Touch, Mechelen
Atypical. Clean for one, big, friendly owner and a big stock. Again ok prices for Belgium and meaty bargain bins (not just the stuff nobody wants). A bit of a shame their outlet has ceased to exist but the one reason to visit Mechelen. If not the only.
Weird shop far away from what we in Brussels like to call civilization (but I guess Alex On-Point will disagree on this, haha). Immense stock of dance and what came before. Prices I can’t get my head around (some well overpriced, others far underpriced) but it’s well worth the drive.