Speculation, part 2. Almost a month ago I wrote a bit about my plan to find and buy unique, interesting and clean vinyl LPs and trade them for “store credit” at my local record stores.
The end game of this plan would be a win,win,win… 1) I would get the fun of treasure hunting for awesome records AND end up with the records I want to complete “the collection”, 2) the Independent Record Store gets good LPs that keep regular customers coming back (and a profit to keep the doors open) and 3) shoppers at the Independent Record Store get to buy LPs to add to their own “collection”…
Now that I’ve had a month to work on this plan, how’s it going?
Let’s look at 1), first off, why is that thrift stores insist on locating their records on ground level shelves or in magazine racks that are nearly impossible to flip through? I’ve spent nearly as much time sorting and arranging thrift store records as I have on the hunt… mostly on my knees on a gross Goodwill floor! Second, somebody seriously needs to go through the records at these places and cull out the sleeveless, the coverless and the moldy and send it to the dumpster! Third, it’s way more competitive now than it was 15 years ago. I’ve stood in line several times to pick through a pile of records or seen someone with an arm full of LPs walking out while I’m walking in. I’ve struck up conversations with employees of some of these places who tell me there are others that come in daily to pick for vinyl. So, have I snagged anything for “the collection” over the past month? Well, yes! Actually, about half of the 50-some records I’ve blogged about have been from these thrift store adventures. Some I’ve flipped into the “store credit” and some I’ve wrapped in plastic and filed with my own stuff. Some of the Easter eggs I’ve found have yet to make an appearance in this blog…. Graceland, for instance, was on my list of must haves, and I actually found a copy!
So, it’s been (and still is) fun to dig for vinyl, it’s just more work than I remember it being.
As for 2), most of the stuff I’ve flipped I’ve given a buck or less for. Some I’ve had for years and never planned on listening to again. Some was new or newish and just needed a new home. So far I’ve accumulated just over $150 in store credit for trading in 43 records or nearly $3.50 per record. When you consider many of these were purchased for $0.05 or $0.25, it seems like a pretty good score! But I’ve seen many of these back on the record store shelves for $10 to $15… which, if they manage to sell them for that, would be a tidy profit indeed! A few of my old records have even made it into the personal collections of the record store owners, which feels like a compliment to me.
So, if I paid $0.05 (or $1.00) for a record which I trade for $3.50 of store credit, I’m happy with that, even if it sells for $15 tomorrow.
Now, 3) is harder to dissect. I don’t know if anyone found one of my old records in one of these record stores and was like “Hallelujah! I’ve been looking for this record for years!”, but I do know that I’ve purchased some stuff at these record stores that I’ve been looking for, and I can only assume that they came to be at that record store under much the same circumstance as my old records did.
All in all, I’m happy with the arrangement so far. Win, win, win… my store credit evaporates nearly as fast as it accumulates, but that’s point, right?
This brings us (661 words later) back to the first record I purchased speculatively, Shoes – Boomerang.
I shopped it around to our three Independent Record Stores. I told them in advance that I was blogging about it and just wanted get the sense of if I was on the right track or not. Here’s what it boiled down to:
Store A – Not interested in Shoes – Boomerang, unique, interesting and clean was not enough, there needed to be a market for the subject matter, and there just wasn’t one for Shoes. It wasn’t like the proprietor didn’t know who they were (like me pre-Wikipedia), he did, he just didn’t think he could make a profit on this particular record. He basically said that he can’t make $5 on a sale then it’s not worth his time and effort and shelf space. He was real upfront and honest and I’ve since sold him several LPs, mainly the Jazz and Blues variety.
Store B – Not interested in Shoes – Boomerang, as a matter of fact he seemed kind of annoyed that I was even standing in his store asking about it. Turns out that there many boxes of records had already come in that day and they all needed attention before my measly Shoes record did. I softened up over time and he eventually said a unique, interesting and clean record like mine would net me $0.50 to “maybe a couple of bucks” of store credit.
Store C – The most laid back of the bunch and the new kid on the block actually took an interest in my Shoes record. He looked it over, googled it and even used a phone a friend to get a second opinion. He was relying on the Discogs marketplace assessment of value as a baseline and then applying his local knowledge to set a price for items in his store.
His offer was $6 for my $1 Shoes – Boomerang speculation! Now, I don’t know the dynamic of this business… maybe this is the norm? Maybe, as a new store, they’re trying to build inventory? Maybe he knew I would take his $6 and spend another $20 before I left, who knows?
Regardless, I came home with my copy of Shoes – Boomerang, I’ve actually grown kind of fond of it over the past month and now it has a story too!