Much has been made in recent years of the abrupt decline of our friendly neighborhood record stores — the mom-and-pop shops (and, in the case of the dearly departed Tower Records, national chains) where we whiled away hours spent browsing the racks for new stuff to listen to.

The stores were sucker-punched in the mid-’90s by a below-board alliance between the major distributors and big-box retailers like Best Buy, then driven nearly to extinction by the industry-wide death spiral that started near the turn of the century. But even if there aren’t as many of them as there used to be, record stores are still out there, and given that the Popdose staff is spread all over the country (heck, one of us is in Norway!), we figure we’re in a unique position to tell you about our favorite music-purchasing destinations.

You might not think that rural New Hampshire would have any record stores worth a damn anywhere in a 100-mile radius — I certainly didn’t expect to find any when I moved here — but lo and behold, not half an hour from my house, there’s the Keene location of Turn It Up!

Turn It Up! has been around since 1996, when the company opened its first store in Northampton, MA. Moving into Keene in 1999 and Brattleboro, VT in 2003, it’s now a bona fide chain, offering a wide selection of used and new CDs, vinyl, and — at least in the case of the Keene store — t-shirts, videocassettes, DVDs, and tapes.

As with most used CD shops, what you get for your castoffs varies widely; the Keene shop’s manager told me that incoming stock can fetch anywhere from “change” to $45. (Having sold many, many CDs for cash or store credit in my time, I find it difficult to conceive of the used disc that could command that kind of money…but I’m intrigued.)

The prices are low and the staff is friendly — but for me, the best part of Turn It Up! is the deep discount rack, where you can find everything from almost-free embarrassing shit (Michael Bolton’s opera album) to surprise super-bargains (the KBCO disc I picked up for $3 and sold on eBay for $80). Visit them on the Web, or stop in the next time you’re in the Northeast! Maybe we’ll bump into each other and share a laugh over that well-worn copy of Laura Branigan’s Over My Heart.