Stepping into the Princeton Record Exchange often feels like stepping back in time. White cardboard boxes filled to the brim with records and DVDs cover every available surface. Wall-to-wall, white wooden shelves house countless stacks of CDs and a few lingering cassette tapes. Spending too much time browsing for records can make you feel like you’ve been transported back to the ‘70s. Looking through the CDs for too long can make you feel like you’re living in the ‘90s. The Princeton Record Exchange offers something for those afraid of losing the small, privately-owned hometown music shops.
Located at 20 South Tulane St. in scenic downtown Princeton, this small storefront is not far from bustling Nassau Street. The unassuming entrance undermines the potential hours of entertainment this shop can offer.
Although the staff does their best to organize the towering stacks of records, DVDs and CDs by genre with crisp decorated index cards, shopping here is always a scavenger hunt. I wouldn’t recommend coming by with anything specific in mind. Despite their wide selection, finding a specific title is like looking for a needle in a haystack.
This may be irritating for some, but I never mind. Shopping at the Princeton Record Exchange is an adventure, and I always find something unique. The last time I visited, I found three boxed sets of my favorite television show on DVD for less than $4 each. Before that, I found a copy of my dad’s favorite movie for only $2 and four CDs from my favorite band, each only $3.
It’s not hard to find a bargain at the Princeton Record Exchange, but the prices are just as unpredictable as the store’s organization. Countless new arrivals are discounted to under $5, while others can cost up to $30. Unfortunately, the only reliable thing about pricing is that the $1 bargain records are guaranteed to be obscure and slightly distorted.
Nonetheless, the Princeton Record Exchange offers countless hours of fun browsing. On more than one occasion, my family decided to pile into the car on a dull Saturday afternoon to explore this shop. Open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays; I can rest assured that the Princeton Record Exchange will be open whenever my family or I decide to go.
I can also be sure that I will have someone to talk to when I stop by. The staff is always polite and talkative, often offering their own music or movie recommendations. On one occasion, my friend and I had to wait outside the store for a few minutes to avoid going over their reduced store capacity. A store employee waited with us and chatted until other patrons exited. Small acts of thoughtfulness like this further the Princeton Record Exchange’s reputation as a lovable old-school shop.
Overall, I would recommend the Princeton Record Exchange to anyone interested in a fun afternoon or a blast from the past. This small shop is truly iconic for any music lover or record enthusiast.