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unknown pleasures

Record shopping at thrift stores?

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I know these days it’s common for most of the big thrift store chains to pre-screen their donations for anything good before putting it on the floor, either selling that stuff on-line or in fancier boutiques or even in the regular stores themselves, marked up in a display case.

 

My question is, are there any of the big chain stores (Goodwill, Salvation Army, Savers/Value Village) that don’t do this? Ones that just mark whatever records they get at one price and throw them in a bin?

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I've been checking the local Salvation Army every couple months for the past five years.  In that time I've probably purchased a total of 5-6 records.  The only thing worthy of mention was a sealed Steve Earle Guitar Town album that I got for 50 cents.  My buddy still collects CDs and he's hauled a shitload of decent stuff out of there.

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1 hour ago, unknown pleasures said:

I know these days it’s common for most of the big thrift store chains to pre-screen their donations for anything good before putting it on the floor, either selling that stuff on-line or in fancier boutiques or even in the regular stores themselves, marked up in a display case.

 

My question is, are there any of the big chain stores (Goodwill, Salvation Army, Savers/Value Village) that don’t do this? Ones that just mark whatever records they get at one price and throw them in a bin?

Each one is different, and their definitions of "good stuff" all differ. I've gotten good stuff at all you listed in the past and recently.

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I always look at the records in thrift stores, mostly because I'm a glutton for punishment or a foolish optimist. In the 30 years I've been digging, I've never found anything very exciting at any of the big chain thrifts. I don't go on a regular basis anymore, but I've only found stuff worth about 5 bucks or less. I've had way better luck at random garage sales and flea markets.

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Good lesser-known stuff slips through the cracks at bigger thrift stores sometimes so I think it's worth stopping by every few weeks or so.  They're always going to catch the Beatles/Pink Floyd type records but the employees who go through donations looking for stuff to ebay probably aren't going to recognize/take the time to look up more obscure bands.

 

Smaller mom and pop thrift stores always yielded better results in my experience, with garage and estate sales being the best since you can haggle. That said, you better have patience for looking through endless dusty Herb Alpert and Christmas records as that's 98% of the shit you'll find thrift store crate digging. Then there's always the blue ball of finding a great record that is scratched/warped to hell when you take it out of the jacket. 

 

 

Edited by NorthwayNative

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25 minutes ago, NorthwayNative said:

Good lesser-known stuff slips through the cracks at bigger thrift stores sometimes so I think it's worth stopping by every few weeks or so.  They're always going to catch the Beatles/Pink Floyd type records but the employees who go through donations looking for stuff to ebay probably aren't going to recognize/take the time to look up more obscure bands.

 

Smaller mom and pop thrift stores always yielded better results in my experience, with garage and estate sales being the best since you can haggle. That said, you better have patience for looking through endless dusty Herb Alpert and Christmas records as that's 98% of the shit you'll find thrift store crate digging. Then there's always the blue ball of finding a great record that is scratched/warped to hell when you take it out of the jacket. 

 

 

Or an empty jacket for a very great, very expensive record. That's happened to me a couple times with some older jazz and blues records.

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my best find of recent memory is a first pressing of Johnny Cash with his hot & blue guitar in VG/VG for $1 at an antique mall. I've found some good stuff in budget bins of records stores too, either they are too picky or it's outside their wheelhouse. One place the owners hate blues rock so I've grabbed $25 savoy brown records and ten years after records for $1-3, not in their budget bin but recently got a rare mono promo of to delaney from bonnie for $6, last one on ebay fetched $153

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11 minutes ago, Ishtar said:

Or an empty jacket for a very great, very expensive record. That's happened to me a couple times with some older jazz and blues records.

Oh yeah, that's brutal as well. I once found a copy of Lou Donaldson's "Blues Walk", took it out of the sleeve, the A side is pristine and I'm stoked. Flipped it over and it looked like someone's pissed off wife took a paperclip to the other side. 

Edited by NorthwayNative

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I've found a bunch of records at savers in great condition. They've recently bumped their price up to $4 on records though. Never found anything worth it from goodwill. 

 

Best score I've ever had was finding Farmhouse by Phish at savers. I almost didn't even check it out until I was curious as to what it was the second time around. After further research it was a no brainer to buy it. Sold it for $200 on ebay.

 

Last month there was a huge collection of 80s music in probably the best condition I've ever seen there. Got Faith by George Michael, 1999 by Prince and The Dream (Exteme) EP. 

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1 hour ago, morfiend said:

I've found some pretty decent scores at a local Goodwill but the past year or so it's been bone dry. Other thrift stores/antique malls seem to know what they have and are over priced.

This mirrors my own experience almost exactly. I used to find ok stuff at the chains, but in the last year or two I’ve noticed good stuff being rare or non-existent.

 

And the smaller places some people are claiming they have good luck at seem to be way overpriced when I go - and again, they’re places you used to find bargains at not long ago. It’s like the owners suddenly started looking up every single record individually on eBay and pricing them at peak sales history, regardless of scarcity or condition.

 

I honestly find more “bargains” at regular record stores than thrift stores/antique stores lately.

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1 hour ago, NorthwayNative said:

Oh yeah, that's brutal as well. I once found a copy of Lou Donaldson's "Blues Walk", took it out of the sleeve, the A side is pristine and I'm stoked. Flipped it over and it looked like someone's pissed off wife took a paperclip to the other side. 

Gutwrenching!

 

21 minutes ago, unknown pleasures said:

This mirrors my own experience almost exactly. I used to find ok stuff at the chains, but in the last year or two I’ve noticed good stuff being rare or non-existent.

 

And the smaller places some people are claiming they have good luck at seem to be way overpriced when I go - and again, they’re places you used to find bargains at not long ago. It’s like the owners suddenly started looking up every single record individually on eBay and pricing them at peak sales history, regardless of scarcity or condition.

 

I honestly find more “bargains” at regular record stores than thrift stores/antique stores lately.

I used to find good stuff all the time but it has definitely slowed. The other day someone dropped off a bunch of Fleetwood Mac and a $20ish copy of Nebraska that I grabbed though, so some solid stuff still comes through. This was at a Goodwill.

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I go to a local Goodwill store and generally don't find a lot. But I'm optimistic. There are several times I've run into another 30-40 records in great shape. Like VG+. Mind you they're mostly 70s and 80s Rock. There was a time last year I ran into about 18 or 20 mid-80s heavy metal in VG+ condition. Ozzy, Iron Maiden, Mötley Crüe, Tesla and stuff like that. That same day I came across 30 laser discs. They were all 50¢ a piece. Including the laser discs! I'm pretty good with my local Goodwill. They actually keep me up to date. I'll call ahead. They call me the record guy! Lol

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5 hours ago, NorthwayNative said:

Oh yeah, that's brutal as well. I once found a copy of Lou Donaldson's "Blues Walk", took it out of the sleeve, the A side is pristine and I'm stoked. Flipped it over and it looked like someone's pissed off wife took a paperclip to the other side. 

This makes me extremely sad and I've also been there.

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I used to find more than I do now (I also go a lot less, now), but for instance, one day I got Twisted Sister, Nena, Tracy Chapman, and Elton John.

I always check for electronics though. I recently purchased a Polk Audio sub ($15) in great shape, that would be about $4-500 new and a set Acoustic Research tower speakers ($20) that would run about $3-400 new. I still have to try the speakers out, but the sub is a beast. 

That said, I always check the records, and the glass cases.

I used to go to Savers, but a bunch of old guys seemed to hang out and cherry pick everything.  Never had any luck. 

I think estate sales are my next endeavor into buying used, but with how mainstream this has become, I'd be lucky to score anything worthwhile. 

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I found a bunch of weird 90s emo records in a Goodwill in like 2011. An OG press of The Power or Failing was the coolest one, but  I found maybe 5-6 weird bands I’d never heard of before (the only one whose name I remember specifically was Threadbare). 

 

And I did find a nice copy of Dark Side of the Moon once around the same year.

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I've maybe bought six or seven records from Goodwill, mostly classical symphonies that I like and one or two Chuck Mangione albums. Once time I did find a factory sealed copy of an old Christian a-capella Xmas album that I loved in my childhood, that was an awesome nostalgia score but nothing remarkable in terms of "valuable" records.

I figure most of my thrifted albums are gonna be more for the nostalgia than the sale anyway. That's just how it is.

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My Goodwill prices anything in the bin at $3.99. Is that standard practice across the country or is it just in certain markets?

 

That seems incredibly expensive to me when regular record stores still have dollar bins with similar stuff and “3 for $10” or “4 for $10” bins that usually blow away what I come across at Goodwill.

 

I can’t image the yellowed Lawrence Welk albums, tattered Country Music compilations and moldy Sound of Music soundtracks that make up the (vast) majority of stuff I see there sell at $4 a pop...

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1 hour ago, unknown pleasures said:

My Goodwill prices anything in the bin at $3.99. Is that standard practice across the country or is it just in certain markets?

 

That seems incredibly expensive to me when regular record stores still have dollar bins with similar stuff and “3 for $10” or “4 for $10” bins that usually blow away what I come across at Goodwill.

 

I can’t image the yellowed Lawrence Welk albums, tattered Country Music compilations and moldy Sound of Music soundtracks that make up the (vast) majority of stuff I see there sell at $4 a pop...

$2.99 here but sometimes they mark up stuff they recognize. That said I still find some solid stuff that they don't recognize. It's also weird how they decide what gets marked up too. Kiss? Sure, mark it up. King Crimson, nah, regular price. Beatles, Deep Purple, mark it up. Sabbath, Maiden, Rolling Stones, nope.

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3 hours ago, unknown pleasures said:

My Goodwill prices anything in the bin at $3.99. Is that standard practice across the country or is it just in certain markets?

 

That seems incredibly expensive to me when regular record stores still have dollar bins with similar stuff and “3 for $10” or “4 for $10” bins that usually blow away what I come across at Goodwill.

 

I can’t image the yellowed Lawrence Welk albums, tattered Country Music compilations and moldy Sound of Music soundtracks that make up the (vast) majority of stuff I see there sell at $4 a pop...

The Goodwill I go to sells all vinyl(45s, 12", shellac) for 50¢ each, box sets can go up to $3 (sometimes I get them for however many are in the box set). All CD's are $1 and all cassette tapes 25¢. So it seems it just may be certain markets.

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I stopped crate digging at thrift stores altogether. Just end up with dirty hands, sneezing, and spending money on beat up albums I'll probably never even listen to that are gonna take up precious shelf space. In fact, I've moved all my older second hand records into their own bastardized crate adjecent to my shelves. The island of misfit LPs, if you would.

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Goodwill is mostly about timing.  I go to the cart of all the new stuff first, that's your best bet.  I have found stacks of clean vinyl.  I have found some great stuff... Leadbelly Box sets, lots of jazz,  lots of under the radar stuff.   People are catching on, Salvation Army just raised their prices and they usually only have garbage.  

 

Garage sales are your best bet.  I bought about 150 LPs and 250 45s from a guy for $10 at a garage sale who just wanted to get rid of them, most of the 45s will probably go to goodwill, but most of the LPs were decent.  I've found garage sales are either $1 an LP or some jackass who wants $45 for a Beatles album just because it's a Beatles album 

 

I found a Zeppelin album in great shape at goodwill a few weeks ago.  It was "In Through the Out Door" so no indication that it's Zeppelin unless you actual know or look at the inner label.

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15 hours ago, floyd_z said:

 I've found garage sales are either $1 an LP or some jackass who wants $45 for a Beatles album just because it's a Beatles album 

Ditto on the latter. I recently spotted a decent copy of Zeppelin III at a garage sale and the dude wanted some astronomical price.

People come to garage sales for bargains and to haggle over prices and he didn't budge. Fuck that.

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