Vinyl records are now little more than a trip down Sentimental Lane, but record players still live and the scratchy, grainy quality of the music and sounds they produce take people back to their childhoods. You may own a record player (or you might be hunting for one at a garage sale); if you do, you can still enjoy vinyls in your home. Here are some tips for shopping for vinyls at garage sales.
Create a wish list of specific records or artists you'd like to find. Garage sales are hit and miss, so you never know if you'll stumble upon something you were specifically in search of -- but at least having an idea of what you do want might keep you from buying what you don't end up wanting. Unless you find something you're absolutely certain you can either resell for a hefty sum or will legitimately listen to, don't buy anything that isn't on your list. (That'll prevent you from stashing a "blah" record away on a shelf for months!)
Look online for the price range of records you're interested in. It's hard to know just how much a vintage item like a record is worth -- some are only good for hanging as wall decorations or snapped in half for sculptures, while others will bring in thousands of dollars. Get a feel for which artists are popular and have records that are now worth tons of money, and make a side list of those; if you spot a record by one of your list entries, buy it, if it's reasonably priced. Online price checking also keeps you from paying a lot for a piece of junk.
There were a lot of bad records made, just like there are lots of bad CDs and mp3 albums made now. If you're just perusing and aren't shopping for a specific record or artist, look for artists you know are popular. Or, alternatively, buy records with awesome covers. They make great decorations.
Be patient. Vinyl hunting takes a while, and you don't want to give up just because you weren't able to find anything in the first few sales you hit up. You may be searching for weeks or even months before you find the kind of record you wanted (whether it's to keep and treasure or sell to turn a profit), so unless you enjoy the hunt, garage saling may not be the best way for you to buy records.
Once you've purchased a good amount of records, take them in to an expert for appraisal. Even if you plan to keep them, it's good to know how much they're worth now so that you can tell your children in twenty years.
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