Record Store Review: Kim’s Video & Music
As mentioned last week, Other Music in the East Village is a convenient and enjoyable shop for new vinyl releases. However, when thinking about OM I feel like I am using the term “East Village” pretty loosely. After all, in its spot just east of Broadway, just south of Astor Place, OM is not that far from NYC landmark Kmart (heh) and at one point was directly across the street from the towering Tower Records (R.I.P.). I’m not saying that OM isn’t hip – as discussed, I love the culture they’ve created – just that if it’s a true East Village experience you seek, you need to go further east, preferably to either of my favorite NYC shops, Kim’s Video & Music or A-1 Records. Today I’ll stop on 1st Ave and 7th street with a review of Kim’s.
First off, Kim’s is not a record store. It’s more like what we all hoped the aforementioned Tower Records would have become. Kim’s sells vinyl, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, even laserdiscs & cassettes, all new & used. I bet if you looked hard enough there’s a really small shelf with a few 8-tracks. They also sell a few books, magazines, DVD players, record players and an assortment of other multi-media related products. The store is massive as far as record shops go, so despite their lack of dedication to the format, the vinyl selection is possibly the largest in NYC. Most of the vinyl (75% or so) is new, but the used section is larger than you’d find at other stores that sell both new and used, and contains a fair number of popular releases – it isn’t populated with the leftovers no one wanted.
Overall, the records are easy to browse despite the volume. One of my favorite features of the store is the “Recent Arrivals” section. Often you will see record shops feature the latest-in used records, for the benefit of their frequent customers. Kim’s does this for new vinyl. There is simply so much in the store that they’ve separated out and featured anything released in the past several weeks. Other than Recent Arrivals, records are sorted by genre, and boy do they have a wide assortment of genres. Most new and used music is in the rock section, but they also carry hip hop, jazz, reggae, funk, garage, dance/electronic, psych/prog, krautrock, international, experimental … you get the idea. While I don’t much care for many of these odd categories, I can confidently say that if you’re looking for the widest selection of international music in town Kim’s is the place to go.
So the selection is excellent. There are a few other things that I like about Kim’s worth mentioning:
- While the prices for new vinyl are fair, because of the large stock Kim’s will often discount overstock new vinyl at 20-30% off. This isn’t bottom of the barrel stuff either – on my last trip I saw recent releases or reissues from the Hives, Mudhoney, Low, Sonic Youth, Patti Smith and Lou Reed, to name a few.
- The hours. Kim’s is open 7 days a week from 10am till midnight. Midnight!
- The atmosphere. Kim’s is so colorful! There is good music generally playing and did I mention … it’s so colorful!
- Listening stations. A must for any decent record store, but I’m glad that Kim’s (which specializes in so many other things) realized that it was a must.
Bottom line: If you’re a vinyl collector, at some point you have to visit Kim’s. Then decide for yourself if it’s a must-frequent shop or the place to go when you desperately need a new release at 11pm. Either way, give yourself at least an hour for an initial visit to take it all in.
- Sells used, new, or both: Both
- Genres: Rock, hip hop, jazz, reggae, funk, garage, dance/electronic, psych/prog, krautrock, international, experimental …
- Non-vinyl for sale: CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, laserdiscs, cassettes, music magazines, DVD players, record players …
- Selection: 10 out of 10
- Price: 7 out of 10
- Atmosphere: 8 out of 10
- Ease of browsing/shopping: 8 out of 10
- Used vinyl condition: 9 out of 10
- Yelp rating: 3.5 stars (but a lot of the ratings come from people rating the movie selection)
 Prices for used vinyl tend to be on the high end unfortunately.