traveling wilburys

Part 312: Reader Poll – Coming to a Close


RECORD STORE TALES Part 312:  Reader Poll – Coming to a Close


Sharing my Record Store Tales with you these past two years has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It took me years to finally start publishing them, but all good things must come to an end. The seemingly bottomless well of Record Store Tales is now almost dry. I’ve plundered papers, hard drives, journals, photos and memories, but it was inevitable that eventually I’d run out of good stories to tell.

Sure, there will always be an occasion when I say, “That reminds me of a Record Store Tale!” and I’m inspired to write some new content based on those memories. When that happens, I’ll post it. However, I do feel the need to wind down the Record Store Tales and get on with the ending, which was already written a long time ago.  I like to write so much more than just album reviews. When the Record Store Tales are concluded with the proper ending, I want to continue the storytelling. Music and retail will remain the main focus, it’ll just be from the other side of the counter.

The problem is…I don’t have a title.

“Record Store Tales” and…what? “Post-Record Store Tales”? “Record Store Tales: The Next Generation”? “Record Store Tales: The Other Side of the Counter”?

I invite you to come up with better titles than these. Submit ideas in comments below. There are no guarantees I’ll use your suggestion, but if I like it, you can be the person who names the next chapter of my story.

You in? Post your best ideas!

Part 156: Value



The art of buying and selling used music mainly hinges on two factors:  condition, and re-sell value.

Condition can be subjective.  Is it slightly scratched?  Heavily scratched?  Do those minor marks from wiping the CD count as scratches?  Our upper management tried to give us consistent guidelines to follow on condition.  The customers didn’t always agree, but we tried to be consistent – not an easy task when you have dozens of buyers!

Value, on the other hand, could get very subjective.  For example, let’s say the year is 1996.  You went out and bought yourself a brand-spankin’ new copy of Live Through This, by Hole.  You paid $23.99 for it at your local store.  You played it a couple of times and didn’t like it, and they won’t take it back without the receipt.  So, you come to see me with a mint condition copy, only played twice.  You’re hoping for good money.  You paid $23.99, maybe you’d like to cut your losses and get $10 back?

Well, it never worked that way.  We’d never pay that much for a single regularly priced CD for many reasons:

  1. If you paid $23.99 for Live Through This by Hole, you still paid way too much, even in 1996. You could have got it cheaper elsewhere.
  2. We have to make a profit on it too.  Whatever we pay, we’d generally have to double it to make a profit, after the overhead of running a store are considered.
  3. What if we already had a couple copies, that have been sitting here for a month or two?  Do I really need a third to sit there?

These are all factors that came into play.

The next thing the customer would often say was this:

“I’m not looking for my money back, just another CD.  Can I just trade this to you, one for one?”

Well, again, no.  There’s no profit in that either.  I’m just swapping your disc for my disc and not making a dime on the transaction.  Essentially, I’d be doing you a favour and that’s all.  And chances are, you’d want to trade it for something better than Live Through This!

One time, while having this very same discussion, I explained to a customer why I couldn’t pay him $10 for his CD.  “Because that’s what we sell it for, I wouldn’t be making any money on it.”  He shrugged and said, “That’s your problem, not mine.”  No, it’s your problem, since I won’t be paying you $10 for your disc.

Another reason that people expected more money for a disc was rarity.  If something was considered rare, yes, we would generally pay more.  But who decides if something is rare?


I remember a guy holding up a copy of Big Game by White Lion, saying, “This CD is worth over $50!”  Well, maybe somebody was asking $50 for it somewhere, and maybe somebody was willing to pay that.  So yes, to those two people, it’s worth $50.  But if you look, you could definitely find it for under $10, guaranteed.  Even in 1996.  All you had to do is hunt a little.  I did, and I got my copy for under $8.  It’s a title that was not in demand.

Some things that WERE considered rare:


The Traveling Wilburys – Volume I.  We asked $50 for that one.  It was out of print for many years.  Out of print Bob Dylan is worth a lot more than out of print White Lion!


Metallica – Garage Days Re-Revisited.  Also out of print.  We asked $50 for that one too, until it was reissued as a part of Garage Inc.  Reissues would usually kill the value of an our of print disc.

Some things that were NOT considered rare:

A lot of old soundtracks.  Soundtracks were a tricky thing.  You might be the only person in town that gives a crap about the Operation Dumbo Drop soundtrack for example.  Maybe it’s out of print, and maybe you collect soundtracks, but maybe I already have a copy priced at $5 that has been sitting there half a decade!

We tried to be as fair as possible, but it’s not always easy to see when I’m giving you $4 for a CD that you paid $24 for.  You can’t please all the people all the time.  Still, it was better than a garage sale!


Part 44: eBayers

Shortly after we kicked off our website, we ran into a brand new breed of customer.  This breed was probably accidentally created in a lab when scientists cross the “annoying customer” with the “computer” and tossed in some DNA from “the internet”.

These guys bought the same titles, over and over and over again.  Then they would re-sell them on eBay and double their money.  The problem is these guys would get up early in the morning, check the website updates, and snag them before sane people wake up.

Some of the titles they were always hunting for:

  • Alanis Morissette – Alanis
  • Alanis Morissette – Now is the Time

These were Alanis’ first two dance-pop discs that have never been reissued.  For obvious reasons.


  • Last of the Mohicans – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

This classic score was out of print for a long time.  That, and it’s dramatic quality, made it a classic for eBaying.

  • The Traveling Wilburys – Vol 1
  • The Traveling Wilburys – Vol 3

Before these two albums were reissued recently with bonus material, they were completely unavailable.  People were willing to pay up to and over $50 for the first one on eBay.

There were pretty strict company rules about staff buying product for resale on eBay for their own personal profit.  You can see why this would be so, the store is not there to supply an employee’s personal eBay business.

However before that rule kicked in, and eBay was new to the world, a few of us tried selling some stuff as an experiment.  I remember getting good good money for the following, which I sold multiple times:

  • Freddie Mercury – Mr. Bad Guy
  • The Tea Party – Release (EP)

Now it’s almost impossible to imagine a time when you couldn’t get (almost) anything on eBay, if you can afford it.  Yet there are still some things I’m hunting for, and I have not found yet on eBay.  If you have either of these, drop me a line!

  • The Cult – Capsule 2
  • The Sultans of Ping F.C. – Casual Sex in the Cineplex