Photograph by Isabelle Atha

2nd Avenue Records boasts large vinyl collection, fun environment

Since opening its doors in 1982, 2nd Avenue Records has been located at the intersection of Southwest 2nd Ave. and Southwest Harvey Milk St. The store was originally located in a 600-square-foot storefront in the Governor Building, but expanded into a more spacious storefront of the same historic building. 

2nd Avenue Records was once named Lost Highway after the Hank Williams song and was more focused on used vinyl. The store now sells a mix of new and used vinyl, CDs and cassette tapes.

The open doors at the entrance are plastered with stickers and numerous T-shirts hang from the ceiling. This is a place where one can be exposed to new shirt designs and new music. A sign asks customers to leave their bags and backpacks behind the counter. 

The floorspace is jam packed with music. Regulars and tourists alike wander through rows of vinyl to find that one Elton John record they have been searching for or that Death Cab for Cutie album they have always wanted on vinyl. 

2nd Avenue Records has vinyl from a variety of genres including rap, rock, soul, blues, funk, decades, heavy metal, punk rock, jazz and reggae. The store also has a selection of CDs and a small cassette tape collection. Behind the counter, there are also towering piles of boxes full of music that customers can request to see. 

Tod Mason, known as Mr. T in the store, helps customers navigate the maze of countless musical options. 

“People seem to think it is a punk rock store,” Mason said.

Mason explains that the original store did have a lot of punk rock and hip hop from independent labels, but the store has seen an increase in the demand for vinyl, making it necessary for 2nd Avenue Records to expand its collection of music.

This interest is not only for the vinyl itself, but also for the experience of visiting the store. 

“(People) get the social experience, the authentic feeling,” Mason said

The environment that this Portland staple provides is one that cannot be found when shopping behind a computer screen. Few things can compare to walking into 2nd Avenue Records with its vast collection of tunes and tees. 

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