This post may contain affiliate links which cost you absolutely nothing, but may provide me with a commission.
The sales of vinyl records has exploded over the past few years. It wasn’t that long ago that you couldn’t give albums away, but they’re in high demand now!
My store Retro Daddio sells pre-owned CDs and vinyl records as part of our regular offerings, so I’ve seen a LOT of records that people have brought in hoping to sell.
- Records that look like someone took a chisel to them.
- Records with candle wax all over them.
- Records without their jackets.
- Records in the wrong jacket.
- Records that have the jacket stuck to them because they went through a flood “but the vinyl’s just fine.”
- Records in boxes that pets have peed on.
- Records in boxes full of mouse droppings.
- Records covered in mold.
People. If you don’t want to touch them, I probably don’t either.
So here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind when trying to sell your collection to a record store:
- Condition is everything. Take a look at each record. If there are fingerprints or minor surface scratches from normal wear, those are probably fine. However, if you run your fingernail over the scratch and can feel it, it’s most likely going to skip and the store probably won’t buy it. If it’s covered in mold, mildew, wax, or dirt (not dust–actual dirt), the store probably won’t buy it. If it’s not in the original jacket, the store probably won’t buy it. The records don’t have to be pristine (though it’s awesome if they are), but they do have to be playable and free of obvious defects. Records are heavy! Save yourself the trouble of hauling boxes of records in and out of the store if they’re not going to sell.
- Be realistic about the value of your collection. You looked up your records in a price guide or online? Great! Except those values are probably not even close to accurate. Price guides are great for helping to determine if you have a first pressing or a later one. The number, the color of the label, etc will help you figure out if that copy of Abbey Road is valued in the $100ish range (1960s), the $20ish range (1970s), or the $10ish range(mid 1980s). What it won’t do is tell you how much your record is currently selling for. Price guides provide an estimate of what a record is selling for at the time the guide is being researched and those prices are based on both the record and the jacket being in near mint condition. Basically, if you unwrap a brand new album and play it once, it’s now in near-mint condition. Otherwise, cut the value listed in the book by at least half. Looked up your record on eBay or Discogs? I can list a band-aid on those sites for $100. It doesn’t mean it will SELL for that price. If you’re using eBay as a guide, go to the left side of the page and click on Sold Listings. That will show you what your album has actually sold for recently. The reality is that most records sell for ten dollars or less at retail, despite what people try to list them for.
- Understand that the record store has to make money when reselling your record. If you sell them and ship them yourself on eBay or another site, you’ll get the retail price (if it sells) minus the fees and percentages that site charges. If you sell them to a record store, they’re going to pay you a wholesale rate because they have to mark them up in order to make money to keep the store running. Some records will sell quickly, but many, if not most, will take a few weeks or a few months to sell. They tie up capital and square footage in the store (these are known as carrying costs), so you’re likely to get paid less for less popular albums. At Retro Daddio, the majority of our records sell for between two and five dollars and we pay between fifty cents and a dollar apiece. In general, you can expect to receive 1/3 to 1/5 of the retail price when you sell to a record store. Please don’t be offended by the offer. If you don’t think it’s high enough, you can take them to another store and try your luck there. In general, most stores pay about the same rate, but one store might have a greater need for your records than another at that time. And on that note, when it comes to vinyl that’s been released in the past few years–yes I know that you just paid $20-$30 for that record, but as soon as you take it out of the cellophane, it’s no longer new. Once it becomes a used record, the retail price drops to between $10 and $15 and you can expect to receive between $2 and $5 when selling to a record store . No one is trying to rip you off–it’s just the reality of depreciation.
- Do not be offended if the store declines to purchase your collection. The condition may not be good enough for resale. The genre might not be right for that store (at Retro Daddio, country, classical, gospel, and orchestra music are on the Do Not Buy list, with a few exceptions like Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline.) The record buyer knows what will and will not sell in their store. There may be other stores looking for your genre, so don’t get upset–just try somewhere else. It’s also possible that the store already has multiple copies of the same albums that you’re trying to sell and just doesn’t need any more at that time. It’s nothing personal and is not a judgement on your taste in music.
If you keep these things in mind, you and your record buyer will find your transaction much easier and you’ll be much more likely to come to an agreement that makes both of you happy!