PORTLAND, Maine — The city lost its final first-run record store when Bull Moose shuttered its long-running subterranean music store on Middle Street in November 2020.
Streaming services beaming music straight to folks’ smartphones, such as Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora, were the most obvious digital culprits behind the loss.
But now, thanks to podcaster Joe Rogan’s controversial, coronavirus-denying comments and guests, there’s an online effort gaining ground to ditch Spotify in protest. Started by boomer music icon Neal Young, artists including Joni Mitchell and Nils Lofgren have pledged to pull their music from the service and like-minded Spotify users are canceling their subscriptions, making their point.
Luckily for Portlanders, even though there are no first-run record stores left in town, there are many tasty, curated second-hand vinyl dealers where tune-lovers can get their non-streamed music fix. As a bonus, the shops are all within walking distance of each other, too.
Run by local record guru Bob Wirtz, Enterprise is the granddaddy of all Portland music shops. Established in 1987, Enterprise has run through many locations over the years and currently occupies 151 Park St..
Wirtz is a careful curator, catering to customers desiring clean, mint-condition albums in many genres including blues, reggae, rockabilly, spoken word and jazz.
The store’s website boasts how they’ve never sold a CD and never will. It’s records, and records only, at Enterprise.
This store, at 556 Congress St., is a one-stop emporium for every kind of retro swag imaginable, from vintage Atari video games, to pins, patches and funky stereo equipment.
The Buddahs also have a fairly large selection of records and cassette tapes.
It’s not quite as minty and carefully selected as Enterprise but the prices are lower, generally, as well.
13th Floor Records
This place doesn’t actually exist anymore. It used to be a physical shop on Congress Street run by Matt Sukeforth but he sold much of his inventory to the Portland Flea For All last fall.
So, 13th Floor Records is gone but its collection lives on at the flea market at 585 Congress St. It’s open on the weekends if you want to browse.
You can also buy from Sukeforth, who moved his active buying and selling operation online and continues to sling vinyl records from there.
Open since 2010, Moody Lords offer a selection of both hand-picked used records and hip vintage clothing for sale at 566 Congress St.
According to the shop’s Facebook page, they specialize in rock, jazz, soul, punk, hip hop and new wave records. The Lords also have the occasional new, local vinyl record as well.
The Merchant Company
This place has an eclectic assortment of local, handmade and vintage items for sale at 656 Congress St.
Inside The Merchant Company, you’ll find vintage housewares, handmade clothing, pottery, letterpress posters, art cards — vinyl records, of course — and more. The record stash actually takes up one whole corner of the shop.
This shop, named after a mystical charm or talisman, is at 650 Congress St, right next door to The Merchant Company. Its website states the shop specializes in “subversive materials” including books, videos and — of course — records.
Here you’ll find obscure punk, hardcore and metal albums right next to books on the occult and sabotage.
This utterly unique store, at 578 Congress St., is, well, strange.
In addition to a somewhat battered and random selection of records, you’ll also find stacks of used VHS tapes, laser discs and plastic, pop culture kitsch of all shapes and sizes. Before the pandemic, the tiny place was also known for hosting offbeat singer songwriter concerts.
Pee Wee Herman actor Paul Ruebens once autographed an apple for the owner when he passed through town.
Opened in 2003, the Strange Maine fittingly occupies the former home of a 1980s video arcade, right where Forest Avenue hits Congress Street. Look for the store window with the horror-masked mannequin.