Name: Blue Groove Soundz
Location: 5852 N Washington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22205Website: http://www.bluegroovesoundz.blogspot.com/
Location: Grade B-: You'll have to drive, or take a Metro bus. No metro access. If you drive, be aware these folks are tucked in the basement of a small, non-descript building. Even if you know where it is, finding the place is a challenge. Parking is also a challenge. There's parking around the building, but most of it seems reserved for other outfits in the building. I have no idea if they aggressively tow so I've never chanced it. Luckily there's street parking around the area and there's a small strip mall across the street that has lots of parking.
Staff: Grade B: I've been there three times and it's always been different staff. Two of the three times, staff was pretty young, but were playing interesting stuff on the store's sound system. To be honest, I've never had any real interaction with the staff, which isn''t necessarily bad. If I'm looking through the stacks, I don't really need to have an indepth conversation with anyone. I'll also give them credit for seeming to treat other customers well (at least when I've been there) and when I went to return some items (see below), they were quick and courteous.
Inventory: Grade B-: Space is a major constraint here. Even if they had a million items, they just don't have the space to display them. I'm guessing the entire inventory on display is 4,000 - 5,000 items. Heavy on vinyl (some CDs which are very expensive), it's an ecclectic mix of all genres divided into major genres (rock, jazz, soul, etc.). Most of the inventory is in alphabetical order, though stuff is occasionally filed in unusually places. Original issues and re-presses are co-mingled in the stacks, so you'll want to pay attention when selecting items. Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish the difference. The other thing I'd underscore is look closely at your purchases. You can always take stuff back for a store credit, but that can be a massive pain. Perhaps my experience was a rarity, but the last time I was there I didn't have time to listen to any of my purchases. I took a quick look at the vinyl I was buying, but lighting isn't the greatest in the store so physical inspection of albums is somewhat of a challenge. Anyhow, literally half of the albums I purchased had significant skips, including a couple of pricey items. I'm certainly not a sound snob, but one of the albums literally sounded like it had been polished with sandpaper. When you're paying $2, $3, $4 for an album, skips and scratches are an acknowledged risk. When you're paying $10 - $20 for an LP, then you your expectations are a little higher. As mentioned, when I took the defective items back, I was given a store credit. Haven't used it yet ...
Pricing: Grade C: I sell records on the side and I certainly don't expect anyone to simply give away product. That said, some of their prices are simply astounding. What I would consider to be very common albums are priced at $10 and $15. Large segments of the inventory are in the $15 - $20 range with some items far more than that. Anyone looking to scoop up quick bargain probably will find this store challenging. That said, there are some bargains, especially if you're in the market for jazz and older soul.
Facility: Grade B-: So remember, they're located in a walkdown basement space. The place is way small and exceedingly cramped. They've done the best they can with the layout, but your master bedroom is probably bigger than the entire store so ithere are limits to what can be done. If you're claustrophobic, or uncomfortable with folks invading your personal space, this could prove problematic.
Damages: I'm reluctant to admit this in case my wife sees it ... 12 albums, total cost $213. That said, four of the albums were new releases intended as Christmas gifts. Add to that the five damaged albums I returned for a $60 store credit (actually they gave me a gift certificate).