Double Decker Records
808 St John Street
Allentown, PA 18103
My sister recently moved to a small town just outside of Bethlehem, PA, which means that A) It’s a hell of a lot easier to see my niece B) I now have a good reason to scour the Lehigh Valley for new record stores. My first stop was Double Decker Records, located in the outskirts of Allentown, just around the corner from the massive Good Shepard rehab complex.
From the outside, Double Decker Records looks like an unassuming storefront with an awesome vintage neon Records sign, but step inside and you are immediately floored by the magnitude of records for sale. I’m not a treasure hunter. I have no interest in spending days sorting through piles of randomly placed $1 records in hopes of finding a holy grail. I have a list of 20 or so records that I really want and usually go straight for those sections and then shuffle through any punk, hardcore, rockabilly or exotica sections.
At first glance, I was worried that Double Decker Records would be a nightmare to work through and figured I would last a half hour tops before tapping out. I quickly realized that every record in the main room is properly categorized and, for the most part, alphabetized. The store has sizable punk, indie and rock sections, as well as a metric ton of blues and world music. Even the 7-inches were a pleasure to sift through.
Everything was priced properly (definitely lower than Manhattan prices) and it wasn’t too hard to find rare used gems mixed in with new records. Near the back of the store, a gentleman in this giant storage booth met with eager sellers and walked them through the buying process and pricing structure. When he couldn’t find a comparable price for a record on Discogs or in whatever price guide he was using, he honestly told the seller that the album could be worth something, but since he couldn’t find it, he didn’t feel comfortable lowballing it. That was cool .
One part of the store that I definitely avoided was the adjacent 50-cent record room, stocked floor-to-ceiling with discount records. Everything was neatly placed, but my OCD kicked into high gear and I stayed in the new and gently used vinyl section. The store also opens up into an adjacent hi-fi stereo component shop that sells your typical high-end speakers, record players and amplifiers. Had I had a little more time, I probably would have come home with another turntable, much to Allison’s chagrin.
The only knock on Double Decker Records is the copious amount of records in New Arrival sections where recently purchased but unorganized records live. There was a New Arrival box in front of pretty much every organized section and I felt that pang of fear that I might be missing a holy grail if I don’t search through every one of those sections. Regardless, the place was packed with people (always a good sign), staff was friendly but not pushy and I walked out with an affordable copy of The Ramones “Loco Live.”