Best Record Store 2023 | The 'In' Groove | Goods & Services | Phoenix

Shopping for vinyl records is a fun hobby for some folks. Others — well, let's call them what they are: obsessed — will spend hours digging to find treasures from coveted collectibles to quirky surprises. Whichever camp you're in, The 'In' Groove is a place where you can do some hunting. The shop's inventory includes an ever-revolving rotation of new and used records in numerous genres and all price points. There are four-figure gems behind the counter, but we like to shop the crates on the ground underneath the bins, where used records in less-than-pristine condition can be had for a song. The 'In' Groove is our favorite Record Store Day destination; they open early and stock all the offerings. Beyond records, the store also offers a selection of equipment, like turntables and speakers, and you can check out their stock online if you prefer to shop without leaving home.

Tirion Boan

In the market for a morning coffee? What about an elevated lunch? Is a bottle of wine more your speed? Or maybe you're hunting for a hard-to-find vinyl record. Well, Central Records, located on — you guessed it — Central Avenue, has got you covered. This little spot is an all-day hangout perfect in the morning, afternoon or evening. Settle into one of the wooden booths with your laptop to get some work done, or sit around a table and share a bottle of wine with friends. At night, a disco ball spins and the lighting gets groovy. Behind the square coffee counter and bar, there's a sound room where DJs spin vinyl and host online shows for Recordbar Radio, upping the audiophile nature of this musician-owned downtown space.

What doesn't Zia Records have? Every location of this shopper's paradise is packed with enough goodies to cause the heads of music lovers, movie fans and pop culture junkies to spin. You're guaranteed to find CDs and plenty of 'em in the stores' prime mix of shoppable goods. Face it — although every song you want to hear is a finger tap away online, compact discs may never go out of style, and according to many audiophiles, that's a good thing. They say the sound quality, due to their higher bit-rate, beats streaming tracks any day of the week. Some enthusiasts enjoy having something to hold onto with artwork, lyrics and credits as part of the whole package. Whatever the reason you're still rocking out to your favorite tunes using this format, Zia Records is the ultimate CD acquisition destination, as they've got countless new and used discs in every genre.

Need to beef up your vintage board game collection? Head to a Bookmans location, and you could see a Boggle or Candyland box on one of the well-stocked shelves. In addition to games, this shopper's mecca has a vast, ever-changing array of used books, music, comics and groovy goods. Collectibles, craft supplies, video games and musical instruments are among the numerous wares you'll peruse. Bookmans keeps its stores filled with these cool things, thanks to you. Bring in your books, toys and other needed items — the website helps you determine what they're looking for — and exchange them for trade or cash. Go home with some extra money, or get some fun new toys.

Think comic books are strictly for nerds and neckbeards? Check those misconceptions at the door of Ash Avenue Comics & Books, bub, as the popular Tempe shop's diverse patronage illustrates otherwise. Owner Drew Sullivan prefers his place to be a "judgment-free zone" where anyone and everyone can experience the joys of the sequential art form in its many formats. It's one of the reasons why Ash Avenue is the best comics store in town. Here are a few more: Sullivan showcases a wide range of indie, underground, self-published, small-press and creator-owned titles alongside racks stocked with single issues, ongoing series and trade paperbacks from leading publishers like Marvel, DC, Image and IDW. Elsewhere in the shop's voluminous, well-organized selection are YA comics, manga, graphic novels and fanzines, as well as a wall of cool collectibles and merch (Coop skateboards! "Goonies" action figures!) that only an establishment like Ash Avenue would carry. No wonder the place draws a crowd.

Here's a factoid joystick junkies can file away in their brains alongside the Konami code: Fallout Games' impressive selection is so vast and laden with rarities that it's a key plot point in a movie. True story. In 2020's "Max Reload and the Nether Blasters," the titular character comes across an ultra-rare (and ultimately cursed) ColecoVision cartridge at Fallout that unleashes an ancient malevolent force upon the world. Sounds farfetched? Some of the more fantastical elements, sure, but it's based on the fact that you'll find anything and everything at all four Fallout Games in the Valley. Inside each location, a multitude of titles, systems and gear spanning multiple generations of video gaming are arranged from floor to ceiling. There are old-school machines like the Vectrex and Odyssey 2 consoles perched above rows and rows of games from modern-day consoles. They also stock collectibles (need a Mega Man helmet?), vintage Nintendo Power issues, plastic pixel art and any sort of connection cable you might've misplaced. Unlike the fictionalized version of Fallout Games seen on the silver screen, none of it will summon any evil entities.

Step into Collectors Marketplace and it won't take long to see why the spot is kid-tested and geek-approved. Both camps will find something to covet among the vast sea of new and used plastic playthings occupying almost every inch of its 8,000-square-foot interior. Small nooks operated by local collectors each contain toys from a specific franchise or fandom, ranging from "Star Trek" to the WWE. Nearby, floor-to-ceiling gondola shelves contain an army of G.I. Joe figures and a universe of Marvel characters. Wander even farther and encounter rooms filled with Funko Pop!, an entire row dedicated to "Star Wars," enough Transformers to conquer Cybertron, a wall of Hot Wheels cars and even some Barbie and "My Little Pony" dolls. If you're into anime, the rear of the marketplace is devoted to collectibles, including "Gundam" model kits and Banpresto figures. When it comes to sheer selection, Collectors Marketplace makes running the best toy store in town look like child's play.

Trill stands out as the dopest hip-hop shop in metro Phoenix due to its unique blend of offerings encompassing all aspects of hip-hop culture. The shop's street cred can be attributed to its incorporation of the four fundamental elements of hip-hop culture — rapping, DJing, graffiti art and breakdancing — often performed live for hundreds of attendees. There's an array of b-boy and b-girl clothing and accessories of the vintage and new, trendy varieties, as well as an extensive collection of hip-hop-themed toys. You can browse the CD, record and cassette tape collection as the booming 808 drum music emanates from a colossal robot-shaped loudspeaker installation, creating an environment that embodies the vibrancy and energy of street culture. This immersive setting sets Trill apart from conventional shops and elevates the overall shopping experience.

There's a saying about boxing gyms: The more rundown, the more legit. While Cowtown Skateboards isn't exactly rundown, the store offers the same sort of lived-in feeling, not unlike your favorite pair of Vans. Two decades ago, the flagship store in Phoenix took over an old Cowtown Boots location, and because signs were too expensive at the time, the owners kept the Cowtown sign and the brand was born. That same level of ingenuity continues to reign as Cowtown has grown Southwest skate culture through events and branded merch. Whether you're a serious skater looking for high-quality trucks or just a fan of the subculture in the market for dope clothing, you'll find it at Cowtown.

Formerly called the Wag N' Wash, this local spot recently underwent a name change. But that's pretty much the only thing that changed at Bark If You're Dirty, the best dog wash in town. The front of the store is a pet shop filled with everything you and Fido might need, from food and treats to collars and toys. Check in at the counter and select which type of wash you want. Does your dog just need a quick shower? Or more of a deep clean with conditioner to make their fur shine and smell nice? Once you've made your selection, follow a staff member to the back into a space filled with large metal bathtubs with side flaps that fold down to help get your dog inside. Adjust the water temperature and get to washing. Each bathtub comes with a flexible shower head, scrub brushes, shampoos and soaps, and a stack of towels. If your pooch is brave enough, there are also hair dryers to ensure Fluffy is as fluffy as possible. Walk back through the store on your way out and grab a treat for your freshly cleaned pup.

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