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Rotate This

Staff Picks: Our 10 Recommended Record Shops

Arcade Fire proved last month that commercial success is no impediment to winning an “artistic merit” award like the Polaris Music Prize. If you want to support them and other bands—regardless of their awards credentials—there are plenty of record stores around Toronto ready to set you up with CDs, vinyl and more.

Soundscapes (photo by Gizelle Lau)

Around Again
This record store just a bit north of the AGO offers quality pre-loved vinyl, new and used CDs, and a few DVDs. They’re well stocked in the jazz department, but don’t skimp on the classical or rock records either. 18 Baldwin St., 416-979-2822.

Hits and Misses
Rock albums galore— in LP, seven-inch, and CD formats—are stocked at this Queen West shop. The focus in on vinyl, but CDs from artists both beloved and obscure are available too, along with t-shirts and patches. 799 Queen St. W., 416-535-7817.

In the Groove
This is the place for disc jockeys, vinyl collectors, and analogue aficionados alike. Thousands of records from across a range of genres are for sale alongside with books, films, and professionally mounted and sealed posters. 1174 Queen St. E., 416-461-1942.

L’Atelier Grigorian
Classical, jazz, opera, and world music lovers need to drop into this Yorkville store to peruse their huge selection from both major and import labels. CDs, LPs, and collector box sets are all available. Staff members are exceedingly knowledgeable about the shop’s refined offerings. 70 Yorkville Ave., 416-922-6477.

Planet of Sound
The folks at Planet of Sound have taken their stock of vinyl out of the milk crates and arranged them in sleek wooden compartments alongside some of the coolest audio equipment from around the world. High-end turntables, stereos and headphones are all available to satisfy your finely tuned ears. 263 Queen St. E. 416-601-1313.

Play de Record
Many a Toronto DJ turns to this shop to bolster his or her arsenal of platters. The store’s compact space is bursting with domestic and imported house, pop, dance, hip-hop, R&B, and disco; set aside some time to sort through the stacks. 357A Yonge St. 416-586-0380.

Rotate This
One of the city’s best-known independent record stores, Rotate This is dedicated to stocking new releases from indie artists from Canada and abroad, with as much of it on vinyl as possible. Their genre selection runs the gamut from punk to jazz, rock to electronic. 801 Queen St. W., 416-504-8447.

Sonic Boom
The Bathurst Street location store is big enough to host live performances—which it often does—but it’s known for a massive selection of music from most genres on CDs, cassettes and vinyl (most of the stock is of the previously owned variety). Music-themed DVDs and VHS tapes are available, too. 782 Bathurst St., 416-532-0334; 201 Augusta Ave., 416-901-8854.

In Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood you’ll find this independent retailer of CDs, vinyl, DVDs and music books. Their selection covers a range of genres, including folk, world, experimental, soul, country, hip-hop and rock. It’s also a great shop to learn about the latest and greatest Canadian indie artists. 572 College St., 416-537-1620.

It can be easy to miss Vortex Records if you’re not on the lookout. Located above a pizza place, this is a great spot for the surprise find on CD, vinyl or DVD across most genres. 2309 Yonge St., second floor, 416-483-7437.

You Are Here: Queen Street West

Walk the western section of downtown Queen Street and you’ll find local food, fashion, books, and a strong sense of community.

LOCAL STORY An oasis for choosy readers, Type Books is one of Toronto’s best-loved literary boutiques. Aiming for quality over quantity, knowledgeable, friendly staff stock the shelves with classics, worthy bestsellers and obscure gems with an emphasis on Canadian writers. A neighbourhood hub, Type also hosts author readings and showcases local art in its basement gallery.

Nadège Patisserie

FRENCH TREAT The aroma of fresh and fluffy confections draws patrons into Nadège Patisserie. Pretend you’re in Paris while enjoying an espresso and croissant on the patio overlooking Trinity Bellwoods Park, or select from bite-sized gourmandise to take home with you—flavoured marshmallows, biscuits, pâtés de fruits and delectable macarons.

SONIC TEMPLE Compact discs may be a dying format, but vinyl records remain resilient. Expand your collection and discover new sounds at Rotate This. One of the city’s leading indie music stores, its shelves are loaded with new releases and used albums by local and international artists from all genres—rock, punk, metal, reggae, electronic and more. The store also sells tickets for many Toronto-area concerts.

A BETTER BREW Your expectations of tea will be forever changed after a visit to Tealish. More than 130 loose-leaf varieties from the world’s top growing regions comprise the boutique’s premium selection, which includes many non-traditional options that are flavoured with everything from fruit pieces to flower petals, for a fragrant drink that can be enjoyed either piping hot or iced.


STYLE SAVVY Unique women’s clothing and accessories are found at Queen Street’s Fresh Collective, one of three chic shops run by a group of local designers. The flagship label, Fresh Baked Goods, features quirky knits and colourful cotton print dresses. Other designers include Paper People Clothing, which uses upcycled fabrics, and Odd Bird Designs, popular for their domino pendants.

HIP AND HOMEY A family-run butcher shop for more than 60 years, Czehoski is now a multi-level haunt for contemporary dining—though its original 1924 sign reminds visitors of the site’s history. Among the haute comfort cuisine offerings are potato perogies and a gooey macaroni and cheese. The cozy rooftop patio is a prime spot for cocktail sipping.