In the past year of compiling the best record stores in the area, the field has gotten crowded with two new discoveries replacing a couple on the list. In the era of the fading record stores some have cropped up under the radar. Not sure about Mohair Pear in Waterloo/Cedar Falls area and there's a couple out in Des Moines that I have been referred to, Zzzz's I've been there and they hold their own but it's not a place I'd would go to since parking there sucks. With a FYE store in the mall perhaps sometime in the future I'll consider it but the CD Warehouse up there has a very poor selection and nobody really wants to spend 8.99 for a used CD when they can find it cheaper at the Half Priced Bookstore there.
Again Cedar Rapids doesn't have a decent record store but we have Half Priced Books and that has more than often gone above and beyond the call of duty with odd finds in the dollar section and still maintains the number one rating for best used record store (Can't consider them a real record store although they tend to have more import vinyl LPs but expensive as hell unless they throw them in the sale bin) At times I think of opening up a store of new music but with the public more on the internet than music store that would be a money pit. So I continue to do what's best and frequent various places of used stuff. Salvation Army, Stuff Etc, Siegel's Pawnshop, Goodwill and Pawn America although the CD section at Pawn America has really dwindled over the past year. Looks like they might going the way of Super Pawn or Mister Money in not selling anymore used CDs. We'll see in our next trip to Mad City.
I haven't done much in Junkshop shopping, The Springville Junkshop is open and has strange hours but where else can you find a lost cd by The Fartz? The Sycamore Junkshop is no longer but Iowa City continues to have the The Crowded Closet and Housewerks to go with Record Collector, the only music store that I know of in I City. Dubuque has their share of pawnshops in Downtown but you need a tenuous shot just in case, some of those places are real riff raff and some of the help there look like they don't have their rabies shot either. But they do have a St Vincent De Paul's somewhere up there and of course Moondog Music and CD's 4 Change.
Mad City, my Madison, still the CD capitol of the area with Mad City Music X, Strictly Discs, Frugal Muse, Pawn America, their Goodwill stores, and Half Priced Books 2 of them to keep me happy. Why do you think I stay at the Microtel when I'm there? Walking distance to Pawn America, Cracker Barrel, HP Books and to a lesser extend Best Buy and Pre Played but their CD section is shrinking as well. The Exclusive Company (Say it with me!) and B Sides on State Street have their share of decent selection too but the majority of fun stuff is found at Mad City Music X, Strictly Disc and the St Vincent De Paul on Williamson Street.
A couple years ago I wrote off Davenport as a wasted trip but somebody clued me in on Ragged Records and this turned out the be music mecca of 45's that I have looking for find for years. Pricey sure, but some of them take me back to my childhood and any decent Brunswick copy of The Crickets under 10 dollars is a find upon itself. The Source Bookstore was another find of vintage albums for 3 bucks or less up stairs but downstairs they have the more expensive stuff but still a nice way to spend the afternoon there. Co Op in Davenport is a waste of time but the Moline Co Op is much more better to find that obscure Shriekback CD that nobody seems to have. The Mister Money in Moline no longer takes CDs. Alas the Goodwill stores have become too antiseptic and too anonymous to the point they lost their dusty charm and basically they throw their records into crates that tend to bend and break records. The Salvation Army in both locations of Davenport and Moline will get you down and dirty and grimy sorting through moldy and unkempt albums but once in a while I have been known to score some interesting stuff, a Bobby Darin Motown best of, Dave Dudley albums for Rice Records stuff that doesn't interest you but it does me.
2012 is shaping up the be the best year ever for me to find 45s in junk shops or Salvation Army stores, I still can't figure that one out but I'm not complaining since I managed to sneak home about 30 of them from the Arizona trip and thankful that the TSA didn't break any of them, for their sake. But home, there's been no shortage of 7 inch wonders from the likes of Salvation Army home, Iowa City, Davenport, Kingman all included. But still the CD finds of the year have been beyond belief too. Never thought I could find Chicago Line by John Mayall ever again. But that's always been the luck of the draw and whatever came to mind on the want list. Even beyond my expectations.
So, here we go. Those who think being here in Iowa doesn't have anything but flat land and corn and pigs and farms, you haven't been to my neck of the woods or places to hang out. But I reveal to you my picks of where to go to find the obscure and even something sought after. Your opinion may be different and these 10 picks are my faves From number 1 to 10 they have something to offer, but the higher they are the higher I'm more to be at.
Best Record Store: (New)
1. Ragged Records (Davenport)
2. Mad City Music X (Madison)
3. Moondog Music (Dubuque)
4. Record Collector (Iowa City)
5. CD's 4 Change (Dubuque)
6. Co Op Records (Moline)
7. Best Buy (CR, Davenport, Madison)
8. Strictly Discs (Madison)
9. The Exclusive Company (Madison)
10. FYE (Des Moines, Moline)
11. Books A Million (Dubuque, Davenport)
12. Target (Various)
13. B Sides (Madison)
14. Z's (Des Moines)/
Vinyl Cafe (Ames)
15. Wal Mart-(Various)
The Vinyl Cafe is something that was called to my attention. Perhaps that might get me to get out to Ames once again since the closing of Hastings. They opened in 2010 which was around the time that Hastings closed up shop.
Best used music stores or junkshops of note:
1. Half Priced Books (CR, DM, Madison) (or my second home)
2. Frugal Muse (Madison)
3. Salvation Army (Marion, IC, CR, Madison, Quad Cities)
4. Housewerks (Iowa City)
5. Sweet Living Antiques (Iowa City)
6. St. Vincent De Paul (Madison,Waterloo)
7. Siegal's (CR)
8. Pawn America (Madison)
9. Goodwill (Various)
10. Source Bookstore (Davenport)
11. Mister Money (IC, Madison)
12. Junkshoppe (Springville)
PS Des Moines has three more record store that I have yet to venture to see, Wayback, Red Rooster and The Underground Rockshop which is on 617 Euclid Ave in Des Moines. Another Rockshop has a Newton Iowa address but looks a bit bare boned for me to consider a trip. http://flavors.me/theundergroundrockshop
Red Rooster is located at 509 Euclid Ave, DM.