When I am sitting by the register one of my favorite things to hear someone say is “I can’t believe someone traded this in!” Sometimes the customer is saying that to me, sometimes it is directed at someone they are with or no one in particular. That rush of excitement is familiar to every record collector but that particular statement turns the personal excitement immediately to what the customer thinks is a mistake by someone else. The idea of one person’s trash being another person’s treasure is a cliché but also 100% accurate.
Having used records in the store that excite folks is a big part of my job. While I know we don’t have the largest selection of used titles I think we have worthwhile titles that allow customers to browse without the boredom that comes from flipping through one crappy record after another. But lately I have been thinking about the statement “I can’t believe someone traded this in” and what it says about us as record collectors.
More often than not a customer doesn’t buy the record that makes them say that, but they don’t buy it because they already own it and love it. We all have our own tastes and value certain records in our collections more than others. That is part of the beauty of collecting and a big part of the beauty of owning a store. I get to find things that aren’t that important to one person anymore and find someone else that it becomes important to. Think about some of your favorite used finds over the years, they were only available because someone else decided it wasn’t an important record to them anymore.
Sometimes I can remember who sold me a specific record and who bought that specific record. Sometimes those two people happen to be in the store at the same time, sometimes they are friends. There are times that when someone brings records to trade in I have a good idea about who might by them. I am usually wrong about this but when I am right I get the same jolt of excitement of a customer when they stumble across something in the bins they never expected to find. This might be breaking news to some of you; I am not a fan of every record that I sell. But I am a huge fan of folks finding records that they are fans of. That’s what makes my job fun.
Our used inventory comes from a variety of places. Sometimes we make big buys, collections of 100-700, but those don’t happen all the time. Those come from people deciding they are done with vinyl, or more accurately that they have been done with listening to vinyl for awhile and are finally ready to get rid of everything. Occasionally I buy a collection from a family member after someone dies, those are always strange but that is a big way records come back into circulation. Back in circulation is something every record collector hopes for but the only way that happens is if people let go of records that are no longer bringing them joy.
But the biggest way that I fill the used bins is from people trading in stacks of 10 or 15 records. This seems to happen for a couple of different reasons. The biggest thing I hear from folks is about running out of storage space and oh boy, do I know what you mean. It makes sense as a collector to limit yourself in certain ways. If storage space is a concern periodically going through your collection and finding things you don’t listen to anymore and trading them in is a great way to get new records without exceeding your storage. And it puts records back in circulation. Other people bring in a stack of records to trade in because they know the store has something they want and they don’t have the money to spend at the moment. That gets records back in circulation while also refreshing an individual’s collection. Going through your collection from time to time and reassessing what you have probably makes you a better record collector.
I’d love to hear from some of you. What records have you found that you couldn’t believe were in the used bins?