Few objects in life make me powerless, and as to not give away my kryptonite all in the first few weeks of the year, we’ll devote this article solely to my records; that is to say, my record habit. I’ve been collecting records since I was about 9 or 10, I can’t remember, exactly. I do distinctly remember, however, that my first album was the Best of the Beach Boys, some compilation that just happened to have a catchy cover and was probably on top of my Mom’s record stack at the time. I played that album to death, and to this day it sits on the shelf, next to approximately 2,500 of it’s closest friends.
Today we paid a business visit to a friend of ours who deals in leftover estate lots. This is the stuff that is literally going to get tossed to the curb or inside of a dumpster when the estate sale is over, so folks like this are as integral to the whole process as any thrift store or resaler. While most of our clothes and smaller general merchandise is community driven donations, there are certain pieces that we do not get frequently enough to meet our customer demand. Sometimes it’s men’s clothing, other times it’s rings or bracelets, sometimes it’s furniture, but today it was records. Men’s clothing I have. Men are easy to clothe. Rings and bracelets are just fine, and I’ll let Melissa discuss her accessory addiction in a different post. Furniture is nice. I like furniture. Unluckily for me (and luckily for our shop) I have a house full at the moment, and can never seem to find an extra space for some of the amazing mid-century pieces we’ve come across. But records. Mmmmmmm. There’s always room for more records.
At a price of $1.50 a piece, which is what we retail them for, I paid just under $15 for 9 albums. Some of these will have some greater value, but none that are show stoppers in terms of high resale value. This is probably the main reason I love records. I seem to have a love for things that weigh a TON, have little monetary value but huge intrinsic value. (This is why my living room is full of books and records, and my basement is full of my Great-Aunt Mary’s slides. 11 cases of them.) So, in case you’re keeping score, this was our (my) first frivolous spending of the year, and I believe the first physical thing that we purchased as well (everything else was food and other supplies.) I’m OK with it.
The memories we make with our media can last a lifetime. My boys love when we turn on the record player…they really got into it this Christmas with all of the awesome holiday albums we have collected over the years. Looking back on my childhood, after I was done digging through my parents records as a boy, as a teenager I mainly stuck to thrift stores and garage sales. The Johnny Cash collection I bought at the Mustard Seed Thrift Shop back in High School. The David Bowie album I picked up at a garage sale. The 3rd copy of Billy Joel’s The Stranger that I had to buy because I burned the other 2 out…when you find those gems, they immediately have a story and mean so much more. By college my tastes had become discerning, and there was this fantastic record shop on University Ave. in Gainesville that you could not keep me out of. These days I still enjoy record shops in Chicago, but really get excited when I find the scores out and about, you know, the stuff I’m not even looking for.
What is the value of this, you ask? If you don’t own a record player, very little. Essentially, I purchased 9 full albums for less than the price of one CD at a big box store, or one full album download online. By all means, download the tracks so the artists can get their royalties (again) and you can get it on your AY!pod. But when you have 35 minutes to sit down like a human being and listen to an album, please, if at all possible, do it on a record player. Thrift shops and garage sales and estate sales and auctions and dumpsters are FULL of them, right there for the taking, for next to nothing. I’m not the kind of person that is obsessed with the condition and grading of LP’s, so some would argue that I’m not a “real” collector. This has worked in my favor, because there are plenty of copies of whatever album you might be looking for in super-fine n’ listenable condition. Probably with a really nice jacket, to boot. And probably for under $3. The biggest challenge when looking for any kind of second-hand media is that you have to search through it, but a little work always pays off. Don’t worry, we brought in a ton of records today, and I only took home 9, so there’s plenty leftover if you get a chance to stop by soon!