While I love visiting all the touristy spots in any given city, when I’m ready to leave I want a souvenir that means something to me, and isn’t an item everyone and their mother can buy. Hence my love for hitting up the best vintage shops everywhere I go! There are a few vintage shops I highly recommend skimming through if you have time while you’re in Nashville and one of those is Grimey’s Too. This shop is next to the well-known performing venue, The Basement, where my favorite Nashville band (Forlorn Strangers) frequents, and is in a very quintessentially “Nashville” part of town. Shopping for vintage records is one of my favorite weekend activities (next having a big breakfast at Hermitage Cafe – Nashville’s best kept brunch secret!). After living in Nashville 2.5 years I’ve figured out a few ‘tricks’ to scoring fabulous vintage vinyl that I enjoy listening to over and over, and will appreciate long after I’ve moved away from Nashville. Here’s a little guide as to my ‘plan of attack’ when shopping for vintage records:
- Start at the back: When you first walk into Grimey’s there’s a bunch of books and tees at the front, and to your right. (BTW, if you want a vintage band tee go here to find it if you don’t have time to scour the thrift stores!). Walk past all of that to the back room on the left, next to the restrooms, and start there. That’s where the gold is at! There are literally hundreds of vintage records in wooden milk crates and stuffed into shelves near the floor.
- Know your bands: This should go without saying, but seriously, if you’re going to actually listen to the music you cannot rely on the cover art alone! All of the records are fully functional, so please don’t choose the album based solely on the way it looks!
- Bring Headphones: I always have YouTube pulled up on my phone and an earbud in one ear while I’m in the record store. If I’m combing through a bin and find an album I’m not familiar with by a band I know I like, I’ll pull up a random song from the list on the back and see if I enjoy it. While most records you find will be under $4, it’s still a let down when you get an awesome looking album and end up disliking all the songs!
- Discover Something New: Use a website like More Tracks Like This to find music similar to what you know you like. I’ll be honest, I don’t have a huge range of music knowledge, but I do know what I like (don’t we all!), so let’s say I’m a fan of KC and the Sunshine Band’s song, “Give it Up” (we all know that one, right?!). Put in the name of the song you like, and the name of the artist, and a list of similar songs will be generated. This gives me a good idea of other artists I might like without having to listen to a sampling of every record I come across that looks mildly interesting.
- Fall in Love: Grimey’s has multiple record players and head phones spaced around their store where you can actually listen to the albums you find. There’s nothing quite like the sound of an incredible record on vinyl, so pop it on the player and listen for a few minutes before you buy if you’re trying to make a final decision.
- Do Your Research: Check out the location of any vintage shop you want to visit and make it part of your route for the day. Make sure you’re aware of their hours, and browse their social media pages to see if they’re having any events during the time you plan on visiting. If you only have time for a quick browse, and are looking for something specific, you can always ask outright if they have it. The staff at vintage shops here are typically very knowledgeable and love being around what they sell, (I know of a few vintage shops in Nashville where they owner actually works at their store most of the time). If they don’t have exactly what you want, they can usually make a suggestion, and a lot of the different store owners know each other and will make suggestions as to other places you can check out.
So what do you think? Would you spend a day in Nashville vintage shopping?