Smile Politely

BEST Record Store of the decade: Exile on Main Street

From our BEST Music of the decade feature:

Owner Jeff Brandt knows that this whole thing is never going to turn around. We won’t ever return to a golden era of this business model, and that is something he’s never going to pretend to seek. What Exile on Main Street brings to our community stands as perhaps the single most beacon of preservation that we have as far as what we once were as a music forward culture. And that’s not just limited to this very community. It’s about a culture that once was, and no longer is everywhere you turn. That change is palpable. But it’s better to celebrate what we still have than to mourn what we don’t. 

I would be remiss if I did not mention that there are a number of fine record shops doing the work too. Record Swap will forever be my very favorite, and despite the fact I no longer buy vinyl, I can’t escape how I feel. See You CD and Vinyl is a terrific shop, and if you are feeling wild, you can still stop in at Parasol Records to get this, or that, or the other. All three of those shops are in Urbana. All of them, gems in their own right. 

Exile is in Downtown Champaign, which for me is apropos of opportunity. There’s still opportunity in Downtown Champaign. It will look different, but it will develop. And when it does, Exile will likely be there, as the old guard, standing watch, to make sure it has a center. A place to hang and talk about it. A space to learn. 

Exile is the very best record store we’ve had available to us for the past decade. (Seth Fein)

Photo by Anna Longworth

Executive Editor

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