Ever since my mother talked me out of buying Adam Ant's Prince Charming in favor of Men At Work's Business as Usual, buying and having records has always been very important to me. I was eight years old when I got hooked, facilitated by the encouragement of my mother's own collection (which included a lot of Blue Oyster Cult & Lou Reed's Rock & Roll Animal) and those of her myriad boyfriends. I remember one giving me a copy of Be Bop Deluxe's Sunburst Finish, which I never listened to because I hated the cover, and another giving me a copy of Funhouse by the Stooges. That was ages ago, I've since adopted a theory that the first Stooges record you hear is most likely to be your favorite.
I mark a lot of my memories by the records that I was listening to at that given time. I've spent hundreds of times more money on music than I've even spent on clothing. My allowance for a few years as a youngster was a record a week at The Shoppe in Berea, Ohio. I remember the moment that I saw the Keep it in the Family EP by Black Flag on one of those trips. I can still smell the Nag Champa, it was the first place that I realized that people who work in record stores tend to be mega-grumps.
The Misfits Horror Business on black vinyl! (note: sleeping cat)
Eventually I got a job in a record store. After that, I opened my own record store. If there's anything that will hinder the love of something, it's going into business doing it. When I owned a store I stopped shopping for records in every town that I visited. There was a time when I knew the best stores in so many cities: Wuxtry, Used Kids, Aaron's, Bent Crayon, Vintage Vinyl, Newbury Comics. If you know the cities these stores are (or were) in, you might be in the same boat.
There's something odd about collecting a thing, almost icky. It seems to fill a void of some sort, whether it be time or directionless energy. Regardless, the time has come when I feel I no longer need shelves and shelves and boxes and boxes of this thing. I plan to deplete my current collection by 75% in the coming year. What I'll do with the money, I have no idea. I funded a lot of my move to Seattle by selling records (Michael Cosmic!The 1st Sun Ra LP!) but I have no idea what a lot of these things are currently worth. I know the usual places to check, such as eBay completed auctions, the Discogs website, Popsike.com, etc., but there are so many things that I'd rather sell to people face to face as opposed to having to put them in boxes and sit at a keyboard typing information. Not to mention buying boxes! And trips to the dreaded post office!
I'm also concerned, what if I miss them? At this point they feel like an emotional burden, any desire to hear a specific melody can most likely be met by looking things up on Youtube. Is it worth keeping a Don Gardner 45 simply because I might play it the next time I DJ? Won't people be so happy the next time they have to help me move that they're not greeted by 175 12"x12"x12" boxes full of cardboard and plastic?
Side question: if burglars rob your house, do they take records? Which ones do they tend to choose?
Please share any stories you might have about selling off your collection, sales regrets, eBay horror stories, etc. Heck, throw in stories of your big scores if you like. I still fondly recall the estate sale where I found 900 NM 1950s jazz records. Cecil Taylor's Jazz Advance looked like it had never been played and still included the insert booklet. Or the time when I went to the CPA's house to buy the best ever collection of punk records. While I was carrying them out to my car he put an original Suicidal Tendencies hat on my head and said, "Here, you've earned this."
I've already started sorting 45s into piles for Hollow Earth's annual record fair in December. Word is that the Capitol Hill Sonic Boom is renting tables for record dealers until the end of the month. Am I going to have an awful feeling going from 9,000 records to 1,000 records? Will I raise my arms in victory, breaking the marathon finish line tape in my head when I'm done? Will I spend the rest of my life trying to get them back? What is the best day to start an eBay auction? Are French record buyers really picky? What's your grading scale?