It’s just your basic 30-ton record collection.
How else can you describe Chad Kassem’s latest acquisition: a massive assemblage of 30,000-plus records, most still sealed, all dating back a minimum of 26 years? There is pallet after pallet of them — enough to fill one and a half semi trailers.
But after the excitement of hooking such a whale, the question begs: “What do you do with it?”
If you are a private collector, you better have an understanding spouse, a barn you’re not using, or both. If you are a dealer like Kassem, you have to find some way to sort through the mountains of uncataloged vinyl, figure out exactly what you have and eventually come up with a plan to sell it off.
“It’s all we can do just to sort this stuff,” says Kassem with a laugh. “We haven’t had time to sell them yet, or even price them.”
The story behind one of the record hobby’s biggest vinyl purchases — certainly sealed vinyl — in recent years goes like this:
Kassem is the founder and proprietor of Acoustic Sounds Inc., a successful mail-order business in Salina, Kan., that deals in high-end records and bills itself as the “biggest-selling audiophile vinyl dealer in the world.”
The company began in 1983 when Kassem turned his new hobby of record collecting into a small business, buying and selling high-end vinyl. One thing led to another, and now the company is a worldwide player, specializing in records for vinyl connoisseurs while also dealing in digital re-mastering, new recordings, CDs, audio equipment and other ventures.
When Kassem got a call over the summer asking if he was interested in a huge LP collection that had been in storage in nearby Kansas City for more than 20 years, he figured he had to at least take a look. What he found was a huge stash of records that had belonged to an apparently slightly eccentric collector, who often bought multiple copies of records from a variety of genres and left nearly all of them in the plastic. The collector had died in 1981, and his family had left the vinyl untouched in a warehouse facility ever since.
“The family didn’t do anything with it,” said Kassem. “It just sat in storage from 1981 until now. Typically, when people call us to sell us things, they are not local. We don’t buy much local, and we don’t sell local. But, this was weird, because it was kind of a grassroots thing for us.
“We went over to this warehouse, and it was all dusty and crammed full of junk. There were pallets of these records stacked three high … We had no forklift, no way to really move this stuff, and at first, I thought, ‘Man, this is going to be so much work.’ I couldn’t go through everything, so we went through a couple of boxes and saw a few things, and we made an offer, and we got ’em.”
What Kassem got was an economy-sized mixed bag of ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s recordings, many of them soundtracks and recordings from celebrities. The mix includes some sealed 78s and 45s; jazz; Impluse (including more than 800 sealed Verves); early Reprise (Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Dean Martin); spoken-word records, documentaries; biker-movie music; “Blacksploitation” recordings; Disney and Hanna-Barbera music; European Morricone soundtracks; and a hodgepodge of other stuff. All of it was pre-1981, pre-bar code material, and almost all of it was sealed.
“Some of this stuff is so time-warpish,” said Kassem. “You look at all these covers and you say, ‘Wow.’ Most