Music Lovers, Make Santa Rosa’s Last Record Store Your First Stop
The logo for Santa Rosa mainstay The Last Record Store pretty much says it all: a jackalope, its perky bunny ears and branching antlers crowning a smug grin and a pair of dark shades, seems to cry out, “One of a kind and proud.”
But if you missed the symbolism, the store’s tagline is only too happy to point it out for you: “This ain’t no chain store.”
Thirty years after opening its doors, this musical hub truly is the last record store in Sonoma County. But that doesn’t mean it’s a relic. This isn’t the place where you go to find musty racks of vinyl or a CD stock that tops out at the top 40. Instead, it’s the place you go to find just about anything – even the stuff you didn’t know you were after.
This is the kind of store you walk into intending to buy the new Mumford and Sons, only to walk out of a dazed hour later with the Mumford, a Manu Chao record you can’t believe you’ve never heard of, a used copy of that Van Morrison album you’ve been meaning to add to your library for ages, and a Jimi Hendrix lyric stuck in your head from the in-store speakers.
Start off in the store’s Sonoma-grown talent section and before you know it you’ll be deep in shelves of Hawaiian, rock, reggae, blues, country, and soul CDs. Smile when you see Deep Purple filed right next to the Decemberists.
Peruse the international music section and wonder what Nepalese folk songs sound like. Take a stroll along the shelves lining three of the store’s walls and marvel at the sheer variety of new and used vinyl: Wagner, Bob Marley, Johnny Cash, the Smashing Pumpkins, Matisyahu, and everything in between.
No matter what your taste, you’re sure to leave happy.
“A lot of people who come in are just happy to see a record store again,” says Hoyt Wilhelm, one of the store’s founders.
Some of his happiest frequent customers are the ones who come up from Marin County and San Francisco specifically to hit the Last Record Store: Even the used records are clean and meticulously checked for quality, and the prices are far lower than what audiophiles find south of Sonoma County.
Another budget-friendly tip: Don’t leave the Last Record Store without flipping through the metal racks mounted along the walls. The store’s selection of used CDs is extensive, wide-ranging, and well stocked with the classics, from the Allman Brothers to Zappa.
Round out your home music library for a song and you’ll have enough cash left over for house-made chai at My Friend Joe’s coffeehouse or a craft beer at the new Heritage Public House, both just across the street from the Last Record Store.
Before you head to town, be sure to check out the record store’s website for details on upcoming free in-store events, like live musical performances and album release parties.
Dance and chat with the locals while you listen to Tom Waits tributes or acts on national tour. Then tell your friends back home you saw something really unique on your vacation: a record store that’s not going anywhere.
The Last Record Store
1899a Mendocino Ave.