I was only planning to spend 15 minutes tops at North Street Records in Normal, Illinois. More than an hour later, I had only made it through half of their crates.
North Street Records, 117 North Street, is one of two record stores in the uptown area of this central Illinois community. Both stores share the block with a funky head shop-meets-skateboard shop that also has a small collection of vinyl for sale.
At North Street Records, it’s mostly about vintage albums. There’s a small “new vinyl” section toward the front of the store, but that is mostly new copies of older releases from classic rockers.
The real journey begins in the back half of the store. A small blues and jazz section opens up to a room of tightly packed crates of used vinyl of just about every genre.
North Street Records isn’t the type of vintage vinyl store that cherrypicks the most requested artists and only has them available on the floor for customers. This is the kind of store that puts it all out there.
It’s all out there in a room that is likely not much larger than some dorm rooms at nearby Illinois State University. At least it seems that way with so much packed wall-to-wall in the back half of North Street Records.
While North Street Records may be the no frills record store you envision when someone says “I collect vintage vinyl,” it’s not void of some true gems.
You just have to find them. That means going through every box and looking at every square inch of the covered walls.
Peep this signed Chuck Berry album that is perched up on a crowded shelf near the ceiling in the backroom.
I do want to provide a valuable tip for those who are ready to rush to search for treasures in the back room at North Street Records: Spend time looking at the walls in the front room of the store. Some of the top releases from the biggest names can be found here.
That includes an entire wall dedicated to The Beatles in the front of the store.
North Street Records in Normal, Illinois, is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.
The store doesn’t have a website or page on Discogs, but regularly posts their latest arrivals on their Facebook page.