Last Thursday, having absolutely nothing to do on my lunch break, I decided to check out a tiny thrift store down the road from my office. I'd only been in there once before and was not wowed, but it was right next to an ice cream store so at the very least I might come away with a cone. The place is small and jam-packed with garbage. It looks like a garage full of crap threw-up on another garage full of crap. Barely visible aisles slowly emerged cluttered with discontinued and forgotten kitchen tools left un-boxed and hanging like vines. The entire back third of the store is covered in double-stacked, hideous clothing, adorned with a notice that reads ALL SHIRTS AND PANTS $3.50. - this was my first sign that the place was on another planet.
After perusing the audio cassettes and VHS (I thought I saw a movie called A Punk Christmas, but it was actually an animated feature called A Pink Christmas with the Pink Panther), I made my way toward the only thing I really ventured out for, records. Always, it's ALWAYS records. That divine gamble of forcing yourself to sift through hundreds of dusty, boring records to hopefully find just one or two that you wouldn't mind knowing you own. Thrift store records / thrift store record buying is different from any other excursion. You will be frustrated, just accept it before you even begin. You will see more classical compilations and musicals and strange ambient 50's records for entertaining housewives than you ever imagined existed. Do you know how many records Barbara Streisand or Connie Francis or Linda Ronstadt put out?? Anyone who's excavated thrift store record shelves knows that it's too many to count.
Surprisingly, this trip was going rather well, I flipped through four shelves of true garbage and more than a few misplaced laserdiscs, and actually found about 14 records I wouldn't mind picking up. I even found the unfailingly available copy of Emmerson, Lake & Palmer's Tarkus, a record that is famous (in some circles) for it's ridiculous artwork and inexplicable availability at any store selling used records.
To give you an idea of what I was dealing with, here's a few of the (heavily scratched and phenomenally dusty) records I was semi-stoked about finding: Rush's Fly By Night and Signals, Fleetwood Mac's Rumors and Tusk, some random Krokus record (which was located right next to Judas Priest's Unleashed In the East, which I purchased last Record Store Day), a record by Tim Curry (??), a children's record of Spooky Stories, Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs' Wooley Bully, a bubblegum pop compilation featuring The 1910 Fruitgum Company (pun certainly intended), some random radio station's Rock of New Jersey compilation from like '82, and some other junk. Nothing that I would consider paying more than $1 for (I would have gone to $2 for the Rush records, I'm really into them right now for some reason??), but also nothing that I would assume would cost more than $1.
I put my picks to the side and since there was no sign displaying record prices I headed to the front counter and very politely asked How much are the records? The reply kind of blew my mind. They start at $5, we have to check the list. I really should have known, there's a reason this place is overflowing with worthless trinkets, it's outrageously overpriced. Alright, thanks I said as I walked back to cram my choices back on to the shelf. I could hear a faint voice that sounded like Geddy Lee say, No, please, buy us...we've been here so long. Sorry guys.
It's funny when you come across people that think any vinyl, and I mean ANY vinyl is worth money. Just because you have Born to Run doesn't mean you can charge $5 dollars for it, in fact, it means you should charge nowhere near $5 for it because it's EVERYWHERE. These people don't understand how many copies of Hall & Oates and Police records are out there, in far better shape and being sold by people who get it. I mean, you can see in the Tarkus picture, there were records with no sleeves! Are they really gonna tell some dude he has to pay $5 for a bare copy of Candy-O??
They can run their business however they want I guess. It's just so frustrating, I feel as if there is an unwritten thrift store code and anything in that poor of shape can not be priced over $1. The other thrift store I go to has .99 scrawled in crayon on nearly every record in the place, except for the one time I saw a copy of Elton John's Madman Across the Water behind the counter for $10. You just have to laugh. I remember being like twelve years old going to a town-wide yard sale and finding the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack on vinyl. I was so excited that it was only fifty cents or whatever it was, This HAS TO BE worth money!! I didn't even own a record player but I picked it up right then, as a sort of investment for the future. In my defense, twelve-year-olds are dumb and I was no exception. Someone needs to let delusional thrift store folk in on the fact that their Journey records aren't worth the cardboard they're packaged in. I would have done it, but it's kind of mean.