Studio Nibble : Record Shop Guides

El Cajon Blvd/SDSU
Normal Heights/
North Park

Sports Arena Blvd
Mission Bay
La Jolla
Mira Mesa
El Cajon
Pacific Beach
Ocean Beach
Chula Vista

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San Diego Record Shops

Last Update: April 9, 2000

Please note that I haven't had a chance to visit San Diego in a while so this information may be far out of date. Therefore your help is needed! Please send any additions, corrections, and inquiries to (I cannot answer questions about upcoming concerts, etc.)

Thanks to the many contributors listed below. Extra-special thanks to Myra Wong for extensive local research.

El Cajon Blvd/Near SDSU
(between 58th and 70th)

Take I-8 to College Ave. or 70th St/Lake Murray Exit. This area has an extremely high density of good record shops and is worth a trip all by itself.

Music Trader
6663 block, El Cajon Blvd; (619) 462-2274

  • Between Rolando and Montezuma, S side of street in strip mall
  • Frequent buyer/trader club
  • "Very good-sized store, all used CDs. Growing quickly and seems to be the place to go in the SDSU area. Found a couple of things I've never seen before." -- Lazlo Nibble
  • "For good deals go to Music Trader ... just about every CD filters through there at one time because of SDSU's proximity." -- Michael Malcangio

Also In The Area

  • Record City, 6304 El Cajon Blvd; (619) 286-1918

Normal Heights/North Park

Between Balboa Park & the I8/I805 interchange

Nickelodeon Records
3335 Adams Ave; (619) 284-6083

  • "Out Of Print Records - Specializing In 50's, 60's & 70's"
  • Under the Normal Heights sign
  • "Used Vinyl. Very poor selection, and what they have tends to be in poor condition. Mostly 50s, 60s, 70s, like their ad states. Wouldn't bother going back." -- Chris Jehle (Jul 1997)

Also In The Area

  • Benedikt & Salmon, 3020 Meade Ave (619) 281-3345 [vinyl, NO ROCK]
  • Lola's Compact Disc Exchange, 2942 Adams Ave (619) 284-3050
  • Folk Arts Rare Records, 3611 Adams Ave (619) 282-7833) [rare vinyl]


Around Washington/University and the 163

Nostalgia Records
3750 30th, North Park; (619) 543-9930

  • 2 blocks S of University, W of I-805.
  • CDs/vinyl/collectables
  • "Great store if you're looking for 50s/60s vinyl. Fair prices, excellent condition. Mostly vinyl, great 45s, but also movie posters, magazines, promo photos. Bargain bins. Very few CD's. Not a store to go to for 80s/90s music, although they have an excellent Madonna collection." -- Chris Jehle (Jul 1997)

Off The Record (#3)
3849 Fifth Ave; (619) 298-4755

  • "Pricy in spots but lots of CDs and vinyl. Seem to take special interest in carrying dance music. I've seen quite a few items there that I've never been able to find anywhere else. -- Lazlo Nibble
  • "My personal favorite [Off The Record] is #3 Hillcrest as far as selection goes." -- screwball
  • "They're the only decent selection of DJ type music in SD. They also have "garbage" bins, used music, and both records and CD's (and tapes...)" -- Michael Winton
  • "Excellent selection -- but very poor quality. Would have been tempted to buy much more of their stock, had it been in better shape. (Bought Suede's "Filmstar" single here, and they also had the bootleg "Somewhere" promo, which I passed on.)" -- Chris Jehle (Jul 1997)
  • Favorite OTR of Aaron Grier
  • "Really going downhill in selection and prices. Very little new vinyl left." -- Handle (Aug 1999)

Thrifty Joe's
5871 University Ave (Univ Square); (619) 229-8321

  • Used CDs/tapes/videos/books/videogames

Also In The Area

  • Acapulco Music, 4116 University Ave; (619) 281-7455
  • Footnote Books, 1627 University Ave; (619) 294-8455 [jazz/classical/strks]
  • He Tre The Young Generation, 5366 University Ave; (619) 582-4221
  • The Wherehouse, 1060 University Ave; (619) 295-4935

Sports Arena Blvd

SW of the I5/I8 Interchange. Take I5 or Pacific Highway N to Rosecrans, E to Sports Arena; or take I8 W to Camino Del Rio, S to Sports Arena.

CD's & Tapes Discount Center
Sports Arena Parking Lot

  • At The Kobey's Swapmeet every weekend
  • Thursday & Friday in F-12, Saturday & Sunday in P-5
  • 24 hour hotline (619) 483-2906

Stereo Unlimited
3191 Sports Arena Blvd; (619) 223-8151

  • Audiophile/out-of-print Jazz/Classical vinyl

Tower Records
3601 Sports Arena Blvd; (619) 224-3333

  • Directly across from the Sports Arena
  • There's a Tower Video right across the street.
  • "Pretty standard Tower, probably best of the area's three." -- Lazlo Nibble
  • "The Sports Arena store is much better [than the El Cajon Blvd Tower] and has Japanese copies of a lot of discs." -- Derek H. Langsford
  • "I like to go there once or twice a month to see what's new by bands I like but don't follow religiously. Good magazine selection." -- Howard Cheng

Also In The Area

  • Blockbuster Music, 3146 Sports Arena Blvd; (619) 523-1996
  • Music Trader, 3112 Midway; (619) 223-7777
  • Trade Roots Reggae, 3804 Rosecrans; 299-7824
  • The Wherehouse, 3750 Sports Arena Blvd; (619) 223-1673

Mission Bay

Near where I8 and I5 meet.

Ross CD & Videodisc Exchange
1185 Morena Blvd; (619) 560-5500

  • Used CDs/LDs
  • "...nothing special." -- Howard Cheng
  • "All used CDs are $8.00, except their discount CDs which are all $2.00. They have a very 'typical' selection of used CDs (one copy from mostly well-known artists)." -- Myra Wong


Southwest of Balboa Park.

Arcade Music

  • "Arcade music in the downtown area is a winner for cheap finds." -- Jeff Soldau

Asylum Funk Records
630 9th Ave (619) 234-3865

  • "We specialize in import and domestic vinyl, mainly of various electronic dance sorts. Email us at"

Elevator Records
915 E St; (619) 233-7336

  • "Elevator Records is a terrific source for techno/house/breaks/drumn'bass/etc. in vinyl, cds & mixtapes. The staff is extremely knowledgable (mostly djs) and very friendly! -- Carri Lukasik

Tools of the Trade
9th and E St, across from main public library

  • "San Diego's only (that I know of) hip-hop shop. Lots of vinyl, dj gear and videos." -- Handle (Aug 1999)

Tasha's Music City
1018 9th Ave; (619) 233-4664

  • "Good selection of 70-80's vinyl. New DJ promo 12". Small shop." -- Handle (Aug 1999)

Also In The Area

  • America's Musical Memories, 1045 6th Ave; (619) 239-4354 [priv. collector]
  • Mama Roots Rhythm & Culture, 215 7th Ave; (619) 236-0056
  • Sam Goody's, Horton Plaza


South of the 52, between I5 and I805.

Also In The Area

  • Circuit City, Clairemont Square Shopping Center [cheap new cds]
  • Music Central, 5604 Balboa Ave #102; (619) 279-6152 [music shop]
  • Music Central, 8190 H Mira Mesa Blvd (Mira Mesa Mall); (619) 578-2411
  • Sing Young Music World, 4698 Convoy; (619) 492-9988 [asian/karaoke?]
  • The Wherehouse, 4725 Clairemont Sq Center; (619) 273-1730 [poor used sel]

La Jolla

On the coast, generally north of the 52.

Tower Records/Video/Books
8657 Villa La Jolla Dr, La Jolla; (619) 452-2566

  • "In the new La Jolla Village Square shopping center, just west of I-5. A reasonably sized Tower with a separate Classical section and a large magazine section. Laserdiscs here too. No video rental." -- Myra Wong

Also In The Area

  • La Jolla Music, 7442 Girard Ave; (619) 459-3375 [music shop, no records]
  • Sam Goody Musicland, 4413 La Jolla Village Dr (U.T. Centre); (619) 457-1454
  • The Wherehouse, 844 Pearl, La Jolla; (619) 551-8901
  • The Wherehouse, 4505 La Jolla Village Dr (U.T. Centre); (619) 452-8642
  • Zach's Music Corner & World Of Harmonicas, 780 Prospect St; (858) 454-4766; [inside John Cole's Book Shop]


Inland just E of La Jolla -- N of Miramar NAS. Take I-5 to La Jolla Village Dr, turn East or Take I-805 North to Miramar Road, turn East. (La Jolla Village Dr turns into Miramar Rd at the 805.)

Music Trader
7094 Miramar Rd. (619) 693-1469

  • Used CDs (listen before buying)
  • Used tapes
  • New videotapes
  • "small but it has a rather large amount of used CD's, which normally sell for $8.99 each...great collection of all genres... The UCSD school rag always has coupons for $1.50 per CD with a limit of 3, which I always use, so I generally pay $7.49 per CD, which IMHO is a good value. Plus they don't discriminate between imports and domestics..." -- Mike Fischer
  • "Large selection of all used CDs and cassettes." -- Myra Wong

Mira Mesa

North of Miramar, West of I-15, South of Escondido

The Wherehouse
8225 Mira Mesa Blvd (In Mira Mesa Mall); (619) 271-0560

  • "This store is the same as any other Wherehouse. Not much selection and expensive." -- Trevor M. Ludlam

Vanco Music & Gifts
9225 Mira Mesa Blvd; (619) 689-4722

  • "This place only sells Vietnamese music. Great if that's what you are looking for. No used music." -- Trevor M. Ludlam

Also In The Area

  • Music Central, 8190 H Mira Mesa Blvd (Mira Mesa Mall) [instruments only]


On the coast N of SD proper. Take I5 N to either Encinitas exit, turn W to 101.

Lou's Records
434 N. Highway 101, Encinitas (619) 753-1382

  • West side of street
  • "Lou's still maintains itself as the best store in the area ..." -- Derek H. Langsford
  • "Lou's Records ... is one of the finest record stores in California." -- Jeff Soldau
  • "The one must-visit store in the San Diego area. Easily the best shop for new and used CDs and vinyl, period -- two stores full of goodies." -- Lazlo Nibble
  • "They do carry a few Art of Mix CD's and other remix DJ's. A very good used video section. Standard new stuff." -- Howard Cheng
  • "... the video section is not just 'good,' it's excellent. Lou took all his videos that he had for sale for years and put them up for rent. A lot of out-of-print, bootleg, or just obscure music-vid stuff. Selection includes Throbbing Gristle, old punk comps, literary documentaries, and videos from Ralph, Temple of Psychic Youth, CTI, Mystic Fire, Kerrang!, etc." -- Brian Keeley


30-40 miles N of town on I-15. Where the Wild Animal Park is.


  • "Gary's in Escondido is pretty good too, if you can find it." -- Jeff Soldau

Also In The Area

  • Music Trader, 1631 East Valley Pkwy, Escondido; (619) 740-5959

El Cajon

Take I-8 E to highway 67 N, exit on Broadway/Fletcher Pkwy

Blue Meanie Records
916 Broadway, El Cajon; (619) 442-2212

  • East of 67, north side of street
  • M-F 10-8, Sat 10-7, Sun 11:30-6:30
  • new/used cds/tapes/vinyl; imports/t-shirts/posters
  • "Excellent vinyl selection, not bad on CDs." -- Lazlo Nibble
  • "Blue Meanie in El Cajon is nearly as good as Lou's." -- Jeff Soldau
  • Recommended over Lou's by Eber Lambert

Also In The Area

  • Music Trader, 447 Broadway, El Cajon; (619) 444-2274

Pacific Beach

From I-5, Balboa Ave/Garnet Ave exit. Head W on Garnet.

CD Trader
1451 Garnet Ave, Pacific Beach; (619) 272-2150

  • Used CDs/tapes/videos
  • "$8.99 used CDs. There's a $5.98 or 5/$20 bin of overstock. Right across from The Wherehouse." -- Myra Wong

Hall Of Records/Tapes/CDs
1753 1/2 Garnet Ave, Pacific Beach; (619) 272-3340

  • "Very small store (literally a hallway), flat rate prices (CDs $8.99, I think)." -- Myra Wong

Music Trader
1084 Garnet Ave, Pacific Beach; (619) 272-2274

  • New/used CDs (listen before buying), used tapes
  • "Plenty of $8.99 used CDs." -- Myra Wong
  • "Used to be the best, now really bad. Got rid of all vinyl, and most of the dance music. Now just a cd shop for dirtbags (PB is filled with em :)" -- Handle (Aug 1999)

Also In The Area

  • Blockbuster Music, 909 Garnet Ave, Pacific Beach; (619) 272-5032
  • Jamaica Place, 1135 Garnet Ave, Pacific Beach; (619) 272-5123 [reggae]
  • Out-Of-Print Music, 1757 Garnet Ave, Pacific Beach; (619) 272-1420
  • Taang Records West 978 Garnet Ave, Pacific Beach; (619) 270-4905
  • The Wherehouse, 1454 Garnet Ave, Pacific Beach; (619) 273-0112

Ocean Beach

5029 Newport Ave; (619) 523-0236

  • "...exactly one block from the beach. They advertise in Goldmine but beware -- the records in the ad are NOT kept in the store, but at a different location. Mostly vinyl, some CD's. Nothing rare or out-of-the-ordinary (I'm guessing the good stuff is pulled for their ads). Fair prices. Mostly 70s - 90s. Stock is STRICTLY alphabetized, which helps when looking thru it..." -- Chris Jehle (Jul 1997)

Chula Vista

Take I5 South to H Street exit

AC&S (Avante Garde Concepts And Sound)
H St, Chula Vista

  • "...for 12" (only), go to A C & S Music (or AC&S Records) in Chula Vista. They tend to be more "Housey", but have quite a few used collections and good prices on new stuff..." -- Michael Winton
  • "The store is usually stocked with the latest top40/dance 12"s. Lots of club and radio friendly hip-hop vinyl is also usually available. Some European house imports, dance classics (CityBeat and bootlegs), remixes (MixxIt, Ghettomix etc) and breakbeats in the racks. You can bring the vinyl upfront and listen to it yourself on a 1200." -- DJMars
  • "This is heaven for DJ's." -- Emil Arguelles

Also In The Area

  • Music Trader, 481 Broadway, Chula Vista; (619) 585-3472


From Downtown, take the Coronado Toll Bridge

Sound Waves
1011 Orange Ave, Coronado; (619) 437-9272

  • "Small store, with an interesting, broad array of used CD's. Can preview your selection before buying." -- Chris Jehle (Jul 1997)

Also In The Area

  • Record Trader, 137 Orange Ave, Coronado; (619) 435-5905
  • Perkins Book Worm, 1001 C Ave, Coronado; (619) 435-5775

Area Unknown

Trade Roots Reggae
2040 Fern; 239-5832

  • "Trade Roots has one of the six best selections of reggae music in California. Lots of LPs, singles, CDs, and cultural items (shirts, hats, incense, etc.)." -- Ernie B


  • Art-Te Company, 945 Broadway (Downtown)
  • Assorted Vinyl (Price Center, La Jolla) [closed as of 08/95]
  • Audiofile (La Jolla)
  • Blockbuster/Music Plus, 6400? El Cajon Blvd [unconfirmed]
  • CD Side
  • CD Warehouse Of San Diego, 6628 Mission Gorge Rd
  • CDSounds (Miramar) [closed as of 08/95]
  • CDSounds (El Cajon Blvd.)
  • Irieations, 5961 El Cajon Blvd [unconfirmed]
  • Off The Record (Encinitas) [closed summer 94]
  • Off The Record (#1), 6130 El Cajon Blvd [closed 97/98]
  • Record Heaven (Sports Arena Blvd) [closed as of 08/95]
  • Record Heaven (El Cajon Blvd)
  • Sound Asylum (Encinitas) [closed as of 11/99]
  • Tower Records/Video, 6405 El Cajon Blvd [closed 11/98]
  • Tower Records, 796 Fletcher Pkwy, El Cajon
  • Vision Records & Tapes, 2121 Imperial Ave (Downtown)

More Information Needed...

  • Amato Records, 431 J; 696-9944
  • Blockbuster Music, 3965 5th Ave; 683-3293
  • CW Dean Record City, 5049 Churchward; 262-6214 [r&b/blues/jazz/gospel]
  • Music Trader, 2216 El Camino Real, Oceanside; (619) 439-4433
  • Music Trader, 13240 Poway Rd, Poway; (619) 748-1313
  • Music World, 1755 Euclid (at 54th); 264-8681
  • Ngan & Son Top Music, 6973 Linda Vista Rd; 292-7202
  • Rap Town, 1755 Euclid (at 54th); 263-6899
  • Recycled Sound, 3829 5th Ave; 260-1744
  • Rhythm & Rap, 2939 Alta View Dr, Sunnyside; 479-4885
  • Sam Goody, 1640 Camino Del Rio N, Mission Valley Center; 688-1354
  • Sam Goody Musicland, 212 Fashion Valley (Shopping Center); 291-5480
  • Sing Young Music World, 4698 Convoy; 492-9988
  • Spin-Off Records, 26 N Euclid Ave, Natl City; 527-0863
  • Trip West Music, 4225 Balboa Ave; 581-9411
  • Vanco Music & Gifts, 9225 Mira Mesa Blvd 689-4722
  • The Wherehouse, 12995 El Camino Real; 792-6806
  • The Wherehouse, 1640 Camino Del Rio North; 291-3085
  • The Wherehouse, 4585 College Ave; 286-5011
  • The Wherehouse, 667 Fashion Valley; 298-9568
  • The Wherehouse, 7510 Hazard Center Drive; 688-1760
  • The Wherehouse, 8225 Mira Mesa Blvd; 271-0560

Copyright 1999, Ernie Longmire (Lazlo Nibble). All rights reserved.