It’s hard to be such a big store and still maintain an independent feel but Amoeba has endured through the years and is still able to keep some semblance of it (despite the obvious need to also push commercial fare). It has the kind of things you’d expect from indie stores: merchandise for true fans (massive selection of t-shirts and posters included), section with staff recommendations, subgenre within subgenre for music and film… Yes, not only does it have an absurd collection of music in several formats, it also has a whole floor dedicated to film, with rare foreign films and an outstanding Criterion catalog to boost.
My two favorite things about Amoeba though are their free live shows (I will never forget my first one here) and their clearance section, which I make sure to check out on every visit. Mind you, this is not to find hidden bargains, it’s more about finding hidden gems (like this one or this one). Every CD is only about $3 and if you buy four, the cheapest one is free. It’s been my unorthodox way of finding new music for a few years now. The satisfaction you get from discovering a band completely on your own is pretty special.