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Best Bastion Of Punk Rock
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Best Cassette Selection
Best CDs/Tapes/Record Store
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Best CDs/Tapes/Record Store

ZIA Record Exchange
3370 E. Speedway Blvd.
3655 N. Oracle Road

READERS' PICK: When Brad Singer, founder and owner of Phoenix-Tucson CD-store chain Zia Record Exchange, died unexpectedly this year, more than a few local music scene denizens lost a friend and a patron. Tributes were paid, both here and in the Valley, and then Singer's business settled back into its rhythms. Or so it seemed. In the wake of the (far) East Speedway location's abrupt, early August shuttering, and rumors of turmoil plaguing the company's transitional phase (the Phoenix New Times duly reported on some of the internal strife at Zia, prompting an angry rebuttal from Singer's family), the word on the street was less than optimistic regarding the extended forecast for what has certainly become a local retail institution. Of course, the "word on the street" being prone to hysteria and apocrypha, we visited the two remaining Tucson Zia stores and discovered things, for the moment, to be business as usual: wide-eyed CD shoppers hungrily pawing the bins for used bargains; pierced and tattooed clerks scrambling around with huge teetering stacks of to-be-filed discs; and of course, the reassuring blare of "music your mother might not like," as the sign on the door continues to announce proudly day after day.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: PDQ Records & Tapes, 2342 N. Dodge Blvd. (See Best Vinyl Selection, page 122.)

CLUE IN: While they certainly don't claim to carry the city's largest CD collection (which they remedy with speedy special orders), the two locations of CD Depot (1712 E. Speedway Blvd., and 330 N. Fourth Ave.) have one advantage over the other chains: A staff almost completely devoid of hipster cynicism. Simply put, they still listen to and enjoy music as a life-affirming spiritual release, not as numbers on a sales pie-chart. Plus, there's a bank machine next door, which is either very good or very bad, depending on how easily you give into the temptation of spending.

Case History

1997 Winner: Zia Record Exchange
1996 Winner: Zia Record Exchange
1995 Winner: Zia Record Exchange

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