Name: Vienna Music Exchange
Location: 131 Church St NW, #4, Vienna, VA.
Location: Grade B+: I stumbled across this place while riding my bike along the WO&D bike path. The store is actually a couple of blocks off the bike path (we were looking for an ice cream store); and is buried in an older residential structure that's been converted into a commercial building. There's plenty of free street parking and the building has a small parking lot for customers.
Staff: Grade B: One person (guess it was the owner - Manical Mike Pritchard ?). Nice enough. Asked me if I was looking for anything in particular and suggested a couple of piles of stuff I might want to look through. Spent considerable time talking to the other customer in the store and clearly knew lots about heavy metal and local bands - 'course the store tagline is "BEST SELECTION OF METAL IN THE DC/NORTHERN VIRGINIA AREA"
Inventory: Grade B So I'm guessing the store has about 5,000 LPs; a smaller inventory of CDs, some tee-shirts and music related material. I overheard the owner say he has a ton more stuff at home and if you're looking for specifics he'd be willing to check his home stash.
Pricing: Grade B: Kind of hard for me to be fair here since I'm not a big heavy metal guy. The inventory I'm familiar with (pop, rock, soul) was a touch on the high side. Lots of fairly common yard sale genre albums in the $7 - $9 range with prices going up from there. Again, the heavy metal stuff may be more aptly priced. I'm just not smart enough to know.
Facility: Grade C: If you are claustrophobic, this place could pose an issue to your health. As mentioned, it's located in an old home that's been modified into a commercial space with a half dozen small businesses tucked into the structure. The store itself is up a flight of stairs in what was probably one of the original bedrooms. I'm guessing it's about 8 feet by 8 feet with record bins and assorted merchandise taking up 80% of the space. Getting three folks in the room would be tight. Getting more than that would pose a significant logistical challenge. There is a certain degree of organization to the material, but I couldn't quite figure it all out. I found an online photo of the place, though be forewarned, it's even tighter than the photo would have you think. Pop and rock is in one area; soul and R&B; blues-rock/country-rock; heavy metal, and even jazz (!) are all in their own little spaces. Most of it seems to be filed alphabetically, though there are occasional surprises. This is clearly a part-time job for the owner so the store has limited hours: 12 - 5 Thursday through Sundays. I'd suggest calling to make sure they're open.
Damages: Since I was riding a bike, I didn't want to haul a ton of records around with me. I ended up buying 5 LPs (mostly rock), including an album by the French band Ocean and an Aretha Franklin LP (the latter was probably the one bargain I found). Total cost was under $50.