Sometimes the best thing about walking into a record shop isn’t browsing through the store’s music selection, it’s stumbling upon the wacky pop culture artifacts you’re likely to find.
Some of this stuff goes even beyond that designation, into the realm of vintage Happy Meal toys and other niche commodities outside the collective zeitgeist. What makes the purveyors of such items so great for holiday shopping is you come in to find a gift for the music aficionado in your family, and end up multitasking in the process—picking out an extra present or two for your Hamburglar-loving uncle.
You can find a plethora of these kinds of shops all along the Central Coast, but here’s a small handful of local gems to consider if you can’t decide where to start.
When I found out that Paradise Records (Orcutt) recently opened a sister store in the Santa Maria Town Center, I assumed it was their second location, not their third. Little did I know they’ve got one in Santa Barbara, too, which kind of blew my mind.
I just can’t imagine the amount of inventory stockpiling it takes to maintain three separate versions of Paradise Records—a seemingly endless warehouse of used records, magazines, comic books, collectibles, and more. When it comes to inexpensive, last-minute holiday gifting, I recommend heading to the specially marked sections for $1 LPs, $1 CDs, and $1 DVDs. If you’re willing to spend a bit more though, there’s a wild variety of memorabilia to peruse.
1157 E. Clark Ave., suite D, Orcutt, and 371 Town Center E, Santa Maria; (805) 727-3141; paradiserecordsandtradingpost.com.
Located just a few blocks away from the coastline, Mike’s Record Rack (Grover Beach) is a solid spot to find records, cassette tapes, and CDs just in time for the gift-giving season. According to the store’s website, owner Mike Leming is always on the prowl for large music collections on the market, which keeps the store’s selection consistently stocked and diverse (with genres ranging from 1950s jazz to hardcore metal).
But music is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to potential holiday gifts you can find at the Record Rack, which also boasts a variety of T-shirts, posters, and other items to browse through.
201 W. Grand Ave., Grover Beach; (805) 202-8027; mikesrecordrackgb.com.
Not to be confused with the Sia song, Cheap Thrills (San Luis Obispo) appropriately offers exactly what its no-nonsense name implies.
The shop does have its fair share of pricey exceptions (rare collectibles, etc.), but there’s always some cheap offers to find in every section of the store—whether it’s the “bargain movies” ranging from $1.98 to $4.98, or the “vinyl dep’t,” which includes thousands of LPs for just $1.98 per record (according to the quirky arrow signs that lead patrons upstairs to the department on the second floor).
Other sections to check out at Cheap Thrills include the local artists rack, dedicated to albums (mostly CDs) from musicians and bands based on the Central Coast.
563 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo; (805) 544-0686; cheapthrills.biz.
If you’re looking to shop for gifts locally, but without having to leave your house, Traffic Records (Atascadero) offers free shipping on LP deliveries (with purchases of more than $50).
Although Cyber Monday is behind us, patrons can browse for special deals (a list of Black Friday-priced offerings remains up) and look up the store’s eclectic inventory online, which was revamped to include an even broader music selection than ever before (the store’s operators spent a lot of time during the pandemic closure adding hundreds of new and used records, audio equipment, and other items, according to the shop’s website).
5850 Traffic Way, Atascadero; (805) 464-2994; trafficrecordstore.com. Δ
Calendar Editor Caleb Wiseblood can be reached at [email protected].