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How to downsize a record collection

You've got a lot of vinyl records, and you've decided it's time to let them go to a new home. What are your options?

Get vinyl record supplies and accessories at the Goldmine shop

  

By Susan Sliwicki

You've got a lot of vinyl records, and you've decided it's time to let them go to a new home. What's the best way to clear out a collection? We offer a few options based on what matters most to you, as well as what you're willing and able to do.

stack of vinyl records

  

Before you start listing or selling your records, start by making an inventory.

1. Putting together a thorough list of what you have, including the artist name, title, record label, catalog number and the condition (along with noted faults) of every disc, sleeve and cover. Everything, including original posters, lyric sheets, etc. If the album still has a hype sticker on it, mention it. Yes, this can add to the appeal of a record.

If the record is still sealed, you can only assume it is in mint condition. It's better to list it as "sealed" than "mint." It's possible that a future buyer can open up the record and discover a manufacturing scratch or defect. This can also be the point where you start thinking about your terms of refund (if any). You can decide not to accept returns on sealed vinyl records, but remember that it might push away possible buyers.

(Not sure what condition your records are in, or how to grade them? Click here for a quick overview.)

And there are more apps than you might think that can organize your collection — for your smart phone, too. And, if you didn't know, Discogs can be used for categorizing your collection, and then selling it when the time is right.

2. Take in-focus pictures of labels, sleeves and covers. These images can provide vital clues to help determine whether a pressing is a rarity, a common record, or, worse, a reissue or a fake. Visuals are important!

3. Organize the information in an easy-to-use format that’s easy for you to access when you post listings or field questions from potential buyers. Quality digital images are especially useful if you need to e-mail a photo or post it online.

4. Use resources such as one of Goldmine’s price guides or the database of online auction results at Popsike (www.popsike.com) to help you set your prices. You can also consult results posted on eBay to get a sense of price ranges for common records.

Warning: Just because a guide says a record is valued at “X“ amount doesn’t guarantee its sale price will be the same. Condition, supply and demand are key factors. And just because a seller lists an album for a certain asking price on eBay or Discogs does not signify its true value.

  

Figure out what matters most to you when it comes to dispersing your collection. What are you willing and able to do?


Option 1: Do you want to get top dollar when selling the vinyl records you have, regardless of the time or effort needed?

You can sell individual records via websites like eBay or Discogs; via publications like Goldmine or a record collecting club’s newsletter; by working with a consignment shop; or by going to record shows to sell them yourself.


Option 2: Do you value a tax deduction more than cold, hard cash for your record collection?
Consider donating your collection to a charity, like a museum, church rummage sale, Goodwill, The Salvation Army, or St. Vincent de Paul, and then claim the tax deduction. Again, be sure you've document what you’ve donated and its worth (and you'll definitely want to get a receipt or other documentation from the organization), just in case Uncle Sam or his pal, Aunt IRiS, decide to give you a pop quiz later on.


Option 3: Do you want to try to clear out the largest number of vinyl records from your collection in the fewest steps?

Consider selling the collection as a bulk lot to a dealer, record shop or another collector. Craigslist, your community newspaper and social media outlets can be useful tools to get the word out and attract buyers. eBay can work here, too; several large bulk lots have made our previous Market Watch countdowns for the prices they've drawn. Checking dealers' advertisements and web sites, too, can help you find the best buyer for the records you have.

Just know that a dealer or shop may not want every record you have. And even if they are willing to buy it all, you may (or may not) be offered a lower price than you’d get if you invested your time and money to sell the records individually. Remember: The buyer is taking on the risk, and a retailer couldn’t stay in business very long if he paid retail price for his merchandise.


Option 4: Do you want to sell your records along with a lot of other items at one time, and profit doesn't matter?

Selling your records — with or without your antique furniture — at a garage sale is still an option, if you decide that works best for you. Be sure to mention records in your sales announcement or listing, and make it clear to passersby that you have vinyl records to sell. Many towns have community-wide garage sales that last a weekend and are a destination event for shoppers.

Just don’t be disappointed if you fail to sell every record in a single garage sale. Consider teaming up with a friend or relative in another town to “swap out” merchandise after your initial sales. Each of you will get the items in front of a fresh audience.

Hints:
• If your garage-sale swap friend is unfamiliar with care and handling of records, please remind him or her to keep the records out of the elements and away from temperature extremes.
• College towns can offer fertile sales opportunities; many of today's biggest fans of vinyl records are students and young adults who are discovering the format.
• References like Antique Trader can help you set prices for other items at your sale, like furniture, glassware and collectibles.

  

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