Cheapo Records is located in the heart of Cambridge, MA, in between MIT and Harvard. I’m sure the students at these universities are a large reason why Cheapo has been around since 1954. As you walk up to the store, sound rolls out onto the sidewalk. Entering the building the sound becomes muffled and you immediately feel the history, there is stuff everywhere. The space is long and narrow and I found the records to be well organized by genre. It has a nice little (400-600) records in a recent arrival bin on the right side. Rock, soul and a small reggae section are near the front of the store. The back had new reggae and hip-hop 12 inch singles and LPs, along with folk and bluegrass. I’m sure I’m missing some genres. The prog and pysch rock was in a separate section. Behind the counter was a large wall of 45’s.
Cheapo primarily has vinyl, but there were also CD’s and tapes. The staff were friendly and it was fairly active on a sunny summer Sunday afternoon. I had a difficult time leaving the Sun Kil Moon – Tiny Cities LP in the new arrival bin, but could not get past the $60 price tag. I’m sure it was a fair price, but not a bargain. I think most of the records would fall in the same category, fair priced but not bargains. It would be a difficult destination store for me, but if I lived in the area I would probably be a regular. I’m sure they continue to find some really interesting and rare material.
The characteristic I enjoyed the most about the store was it felt like a community. The three (yes, three) people working that day seemed happy and enjoyed talking about music and vinyl with the customers. From that aspect it is an ideal record store, a place to go, talk and learn.
I hope Cheapo is around for another 50 years.
Here are a few records that caught my eye, but I left behind. I wish they had a listening station.