Best Record Shop Listening Station

Ballard's Bop Street Records not only has the most enormous collection of vinyl in town—more than 600,000 LPs at last count—but also the most old-school way to preview music. Unlike the vertical CD players of Everyday Music or the phone-booth-like consoles of Easy Street, Bop Street's jazz section has two turntables flanked by an old leather love seat. You could spend all night parked in its lived-in plush, granddad headphones on, after scouring the cavernous basement for just the right record. But listening to your picks with the knowledgeable staff on the front-of-house unit could be even more fun. Will clerk Matt B. get hassled if I print that he had a PBR in hand while helping me navigate the inventory late one Friday night? "No," he laughs. "We drink beer over here at Bop Street Records, no problem. We represent old-town Ballard." In more ways than one.—Rachel Shimp 5219 Ballard Ave. N.W., 297-2232.

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