Skip’s Records & CD World has been Eugene’s largest independent record store since opening in 1989. But even hardcore music geeks in Eugene may be unaware of it, especially if they’re anywhere near the University of Oregon campus.  Located more than three miles west of the Duck Store, Skip’s sits comfortably at the intersection of West 11th Avenue and Seneca Road. Access is an ordeal without the help of a car or at least two bus lines.

So what makes Skip’s worth the distance?

The selection, for one thing. Skip’s contains tens of thousands of records, in addition to novelty items, T-shirts, posters and pins.

A.J. Nichols, a UO student and vinyl fan, frequently chooses it over the much more accessible, but far smaller, House of Records, which is located on 13th Avenue between Pearl Street and High Street.

“House of Records has cool collector’s items and great deals,” Nichols said. “But if you really want to get something without getting it off the Internet, Skip’s is the place to find it.”

One major attraction that brings customers to Skip’s is the Mystery Grab Bag. It’s a collection of seven vinyl records for only $2. But there’s a catch.

“There’s a paper bag, so you can’t see anything,” says Katie Matthews, a Skip’s Records & CD World employee. “But that’s the fun in it.”

Purchasers of a Mystery Grab Bag can expect anything from shiny new releases to classic albums to total obscurities. But most often, they’ll probably end up with a bunch of assorted odds and ends — maybe an obscure dance music 12-inch single, an album of sea shanties or Meryl Streep narrating The Velveteen Rabbit. Customers can’t expect much less just from casually browsing, either.

Skip’s also hosts a few in-store concerts every year. Among the better-known artists to grace the record shop are Michael Franti, Matisyahu, Of Montreal and Blitzen Trapper.  Last year, they hosted ’90s indie band Toad the Wet Sprocket, punk band Against Me! and ukulele player Craig Chee. The 2015 roster hasn’t been announced yet, but given its prior lineups, there are sure to be some surprises.

Surprise is key to Skip’s appeal – whether buying a record you’ve never heard for 10 cents or seven records you’ve never seen for $2. That’s not even to mention the bizarre artifacts you’re likely to find while browsing through their vinyl selection.  Though Eugene doesn’t exactly suffer from a dearth of record shops – many of them closer to campus – Skip’s is certainly worth the drive.

Follow Daniel Bromfield on Twitter @bromf3

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