record and CDs
Most of the places listed here are not for the claustrophobic, but I guess that goes without saying...
Yes, it's still huge and overwhelming, especially if you're looking for vinyl. The CD selection is pretty rich, and manageable if you stay out of the super-cheap CDs. Over 35 music dealers sell used recordings, and posters. That said, the albums are divided up by dealers (maybe CDs are too?), and you could easily lose an hour and not cover the whole store. The only music seller's co-op in the state.
This is the 5000 pound gorilla of Portland record stores; similar in style and function to Amoeba in the Bay Area, and Cheapies in Minneapolis, they carry just about everything... 35,000 cds in each location, they advertise. They mix new and used, but the place is overwhelming, and it's hard to come away with just one... recording. They also offer exchanges on used CDs within two weeks (though they do have listening stations so you can preview your selections). The downtown location is one of the former corners of the Bermuda Records Triangle.
The layout is similar in each store. Along the front are the just-in bins, which contain recently bought cds, filed by day and by alpha. This was the most fruitful of the entire store if you are willing to get your hands dirty. They carry vinyl and DVDs as well.
This tiny store manages to be almost airy. Specializing in garage pop and punk rock. Comics and used cds make up the front room, while handpicked new discs and disks make up the back. reasonable prices, too.
New and used recordings, specializing in rare and collectable: avant-garde jazz, garage psychedelia, punk. Lots of new and used vinyl. Listening stations -- yes. Smaller, friendly, manageable, and almost always a winner.
MM has been around forever (they're the oldest record store in existence in the Pacific Northwest), and has been voted the best independent record store nationally multiple times, and frequently comes up as best record store in local polls too. Mixing new, used, and sale recordings in their two stores, they have a great, large (though claustrophobic) selection, with lots of popular music, but also blues, folk, country, world music, cd boxes, and other specialties. I almost always end up getting something great there, though I don't go often because of how narrow the aisles are.
Walk in, and be assaulted by the visual cacophony of tshirts, vinyl, posters, cardboard boxes, and people, lots of people. They are, and have been for a looong time, a great store, specializing in rap, punk, metal, reggae, ska, hip-hop and indie stuff. New and used, lots of gems, and a great staff. They have one of the largest selections of vinyl in the city. Both new and used CDs are behind the counter. While the staff might be gruff, they are helpful if you give them the chance.They also have a great folk-world music section.
4726 SE Hawthorne
Tiny, knowledgeable, and a veritable fount of world music goodies. Their selection covers avantgarde and american roots, too, with something for everyone from world music neophytes to ethnomusophiles. And when you want or need to learn more, here's where to go.
Vinyl Resting Place is a vintage vinyl store located in the historic St. Johns neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. We specialize in Jazz, Folk, and Blues records, but also carry much more, including collectable Rock.
If you're looking for collectable vinyl, this is a good, small place to start. They only buy and sell what they consider interesting (eg, see above). They also stock CDs, if you insist.
Their buyer is in the store on Fridays and Saturdays, and can also make appointments in the store or house calls for larger collections.
Look for the 2005 Portland Guide to Independent Record and CD Stores, a free 8.5x11 bifold, which lists many of the important stores, along with a brief description and, a map. Of course, there is no (real) editorial, but then, who cares? You may love or dislike a store, but none of them that I can think of even come close to sucking (really). (Unfortunately, at least one of the listed stores has gone out of business (or ceased having a physical location), so you may want to also call or check other sources before heading over.)
Oh - and I have nothing to do with the pamphlet, sorry.