San Francisco has plenty of places to buy DJ vinyl - if what you play is house. Trance, techno, breakbeat, electro, anything else, you'll have to dig through those bins with a sharp eye to find anything that hasn't been played so much the grooves are gone. Here's a tour of some local DJ vinyl shops starting at Amoeba in the Upper Haight, down to TWeakin' in the Lower Haight, and then across Market onto Valencia for Zen City Records, Soundworks, and Community Thrift.
BPM Records - a couple weeks ago I walked up Fillmore to Hayes to get my monthy dose of minimal techno, only to find that the best DJ record store in San Francisco is no more. Here's hoping they're just on hiatus and I'll be able to update this with an active link soon.
Amoeba Records - Upper Haight. San Francisco's biggest music store has a hip electronica buyer and a whole bin labelled "Minimal." Recent acquisitions include Marek Bois "You Got Good Ash" remixed by Gabriel Ananda and Roman Fluegel, the Steadicam EP on Kompakt's K2 label, and several tracks on the Platzhirsch label. Unfortunately, you can't listen to any vinyl before you buy it, and you have to put up with the constant click-clack of shoppers flipping through the CDs backed with whatever horrible music the staff has put on. Get in, get what you want, get the hell out.
Reverb - across the street from Amoeba and formerly known as F8 - I guess they got tired of being associated with candy raves and cyber trance. The only place you can get current progressive trance (unfortunately mostly of the prole-techno variety), and the very few psy-trance releases that come out on vinyl. Decent breaks selection too, but not my field of expertise. My last big purchase here was when they decided to close out the psy vinyl for two bucks a pop and I needed to stock up for Burning Man.
Tweakin' Records - Lower Haight. Let's not talk about the implications of the store's name and just mention that there's a bin of Tech House right by the register that's offered up some nice finds. Recent acquisitions include remixes of Husky Rescue's "Diamonds in the Sky" and Mikkel Metal's "Victimizer" EP. Also carry vinyl from local tech house label Dirty Bird, where you will find tracks by Kontrol's Sammy D.
Zen City Records - Upper Valencia. Where back catalog stock goes to die. At one time I could find interesting minimal psy on labels like Traktor and Plastic Park here, but as far as I can tell the only new vinyl they bring in is strictly house. Another record shop owner once told me he doesn't know how they stay in business, and I haven't bought anything there for a loooooong time. TIS NO MORE - closed as of May 2007.
SoundWorks - Two blocks down Valencia from Zen City on the right. Where Castro DJs come to get their pop house and Club 40 tracks. Owner Sam LaBelle is a DJ and can be heard out on occasion, and is generally better than most of his clientele. Hang out on a Saturday afternoon and you'll hear all kinds of local gay DJ gossip. Sam and his co-owner Tom Seymour are both super friendly and helpful. Techno leans toward the hard, sounds-sampled-from-a-construction-site variety, but you can also pick up offbeat, older stuff. They also run a record pool, which has some pretty horrendous stuff in it, but if you need cheap Club 40 vinyl, this is a way to get it. My recent acquisitions include Gabriel Ananda's "Waehrend die Andere die Mull rausbracht," which would look cooler if I could do umlauts.
Mission Thrift - Valencia and 17th. You gotta dig in those bins, and ninety-nine percent of it is crap, but at a dollar a disc, you can take some chances. Recently found a 12" of Hanzel and Gretyl's "Galaxia Malakia" here for when I want to throw down some late 90s industrial. Oh, those were the days!