There are a lot of great record stores of varying degrees of indieness in metro Phoenix. Hoodlums excels not because it has the biggest selection or the choicest obscurities — it's solid, but not spectacular, in that regard — but because it's the best version of what we think a record store needs to be in an evolving marketplace deeply affected by the steady march toward digital-only distribution. Hoodlums isn't just a place to pick up silver slivers of plastic and old concert posters; it's a meeting place that always goes the extra step toward engaging customers as a community, whether it's staging a seemingly unending string of signings, small shows, art shows, or screenings of music-related movies. They've even held a few micro music festivals. In that way, Hoodlums has followed the path of its next-door neighbor, Changing Hands Bookstore, becoming a treasure to the Valley. You can buy CDs anywhere, but it's a rare place that can make you feel like part of the local music community, and Hoodlums is such a place.