The magic of the internet is such that the majority of things we want are just a few clicks away. Although nothing beats the experience of going into a brick-and-mortar book or record store. Especially when we’re talking about small businesses, whose unique atmosphere and one-of-a-kind selection can mean a surprising find is just around the corner. Good news for Lexington enthusiasts of physical media: there’s no shortage of such places in the heart of the Bluegrass.
This iconic thrift store is something of a one-stop-shop, whether you’re looking for genuine vintage clothes of various decades and styles, interesting accessories and oddities, or records. Their used vinyl selection in particular is of impressive size and is a wonderful place for those looking for affordable access to LPs of the past and present. There’s also an unusually large number of novelty sunglasses if that’s your thing (I can’t lie and say it isn’t mine if my collection of eyewear is any indication.)
Black Swan Books
Black Swan has specialized in used (and rare!) books for decades, and it’s not hard to see why they’ve stuck around for so long. Packed from floor to ceiling with literature, there’s a special focus on local and regional authors and their respective works. They also hand-print books from Larkspur Press, a Kentucky publishing house that’s brought to shelves the likes of Wendell Berry and James Baker Hall.
Although this popular record store is known for having a large swath of new releases, there’s a fair amount of used material as well. A great place for more indie LPs you’re unlikely to find at your average Barnes and Noble, there’s also a wall of DVDs and nearly an entire room’s worth of movie and music wall art. You can even find music nonfiction and biographies as well as authentic promotional materials for your favorite albums from the past (many of which are free for the taking, should your walls be in need of some music posters.)
Glover’s Bookery is, to put it mildly, massive. Their inventory is one of over 80,000 books, predominantly hardcover and dealing in particular with Kentuckiana culture and history. Like many of Lexington’s most cherished small businesses, Glover’s has been around for decades and has many antiquarian and hard-to-find titles.
Sqecial just might be the most if not one of the most well-known places to scout out unusual books in Lexington. They’ve served the area since the early 1970s, containing tomes of everything from art exhibitions, classic literature, philosophy, and the occult. Surrounding the colorful rooms filled to the brim with books in the back of the store is the equally colorful main room, where incense, mugs, tarot cards, and crystals can be found.
Sami’s is a small but eclectic shop nestled underneath Sqecial Media. This is the place to go if you’re looking for hip-hop records, especially of the old-school variety. That’s not to say you won’t find classic rock, alternative, folk, and jazz, of course– there’s something here for just about everyone, and stepping in to experience the shop’s friendly atmosphere is a must if you’re in the South Limestone area with some time to kill.