More on the LP: Shopping for Vinyl in an Unfair World

by CultureOfNone on September 26, 2008

There are a few perils and challenges involved in thrift store record buying that need to be addressed here:

  • Unshoppable racks or piles of records For some reason, there are still resale shops that insist on wedging their LPs into the shallow troughs of old-school magazine display units, or stacking the records in massive piles – making them very difficult to sift through. At the very least, this results in frustrating and fatiguing wrasslin’ sessions that make you think they should be paying you to take these wretched sides off their hands. Intimidating mounds of vinyl might’ve been thrilling when I was first buying wax (’95 or so)…but now, I don’t have the patience and I don’t care to leave a store record-less and dust bunny-festooned.
  • Loose records with no jacket in sight This is not a terrible matter in and of itself; I’ve actually found many wondrous detached discs that intrigue the mind simply due to enigmatic, naked happenstance – but it’s a troubling matter nonetheless. When buying LPs at a thrift, you will often alternately find empty jackets that excite you immensely…but the wax will be nowhere in sight (even after thoroughly searching the loose discs). Understand that you face this heartbreaking circumstance as a ‘record digger’, and you will need to persevere.
  • Records with no paper dust sleeve You should by now come to expect that most thrift store LPs will have no dust sleeve, or a tattered and worn one at best. It’s always a gas to find the original dust sleeve still intact and well preserved (usually with fascinating lists of other releases of its era), but it’s not that common. That said, on rare occasions I have seen fellow LP shoppers kneeling over a stack of records they’re going to buy, frantically robbing other records of their dust sleeves to church up their intended purchases. I’m not sure if I can endorse this behaviour, mainly because an eBay search of “LP dust sleeves” will reveal that they are rather affordable ($10-ish for a 50 pack), and because it’s just an uncouth display of manic record scavenging. I reckon it’s no crime to pilfer the dust sleeve from a Lawrence Welk or Herb Alpert, but even that’s tricky business.

Everyone versed in the artform has wisdom to share; whether it be simple protocol matters such as not flipping through records too much faster than other shoppers, or having the courtesy to remedy upside-down or flipped LPs in the bins. While it’s true I may’ve growled at a few fellow LP fans along the way (like the Martin Denny fiend or the guy who disliked Bent Fabric), I can now say that I’ve reached a point of streamlining my process, and the experience just keeps getting better.

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