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If you are a record collector or simply someone who loves the look, feel, and sound of vinyl then you know how expensive records can get. This is true if you are collecting rare records or simply trying to get your hands on all the records from your favorite artist.
Records can quite simply be EXPENSIVE!
So assuming you don’t want to spend a fortune, how can you get vinyl records cheap?
There are a few different places you should look and a few tips you should learn so you can find records for a good price. You should start by looking for records at:
- Yard Sales
- Pawn Shops
- Flea Markets
- Estate Sales/ Auctions
- Thrift Stores
Of course where you buy from isn’t as important and making sure to keep these tips in mind:
- Buy genre and not artists
- Avoid online stores
- Dig deep
- Check conditions
- Don’t buy rare releases
- Only buy what you can afford
- Buy in bulk
Each of the above places and tips are important to your record buying success. If you expect to go onto eBay or Amazon and find a deal on records you are sadly mistaken. Sure, every now and again you might find a good deal on a bulk lot of records on eBay but those are few and far between.
That’s because shipping giant boxes of records will absolutely destroy any profits that the seller would make by selling them to you.
In the rest of this article I will go into more depth about each of those places and then I will wrap it up with the tips at the end of the article.
Places to get vinyl records cheaply
It is possible to get a vinyl record at a good price even though the market is on the rise and prices of vinyl records are high. You can enjoy all the benefits of a vinyl album and record player without spending a lot of money but you have to look in the right places. If you want to keep your bank account intact you should check out each of these places below.
Yard sales are more prevalent in some parts of the country than others but virtually every city has some yard sales every weekend during the spring, summer, and fall (and winter if you live in a warmer climate).
Finding records at a yard sale is hard work as it involves not only driving around and planning out your trip but also knowing where the sales might be at.
If you are looking specifically for records then you will want to hit up the older neighborhoods first. You can of course find records anywhere but starting where there is a higher concentration of people that were around when records were the most popular in the 40s-60s is a good bet.
You can also look through the “online yard sales”. By this I mean Facebook marketplace, groups, or Craigslist in your local area.
You can often find bulk deals on these types of groups for people that didn’t have a yard sale or had some left over. This is a great way to pick up a bunch of records for good prices.
Yes, I know that pawn shops are normally dirty and dingy stores that are in a run down building in the worst part of town (not always, don’t hate me pawn store owners) but you can sometimes find good deals there.
Normally the more run down a pawn shop is, the better prices you will get. You can normally find a wide variety of records here but don’t expect to find anything rare as most pawn shop managers/owners will try to sell anything valuable on eBay first and leave the leftovers in their storefront.
I have had some luck in the past but it is really hit or miss as you have to show up at the right time to get a decent amount and a good deal.
Flea markets are personally my favorite place to find things. I love looking for treasures and the feeling I get when I find something amazing!
How good flea markets will do for you will vary widely depending on how large of an area that you are in as well as the sellers the market normally attracts. If the flea market charges a lot of money for a booth you will probably find prices are quite high and you might not find any deals at all.
If however the flea market has it where being a vendor is quite cheap then you are much more likely to find people there with cheap items that you might be interested in.
Half of the fun with flea markets is going in with no idea what you might actually leave with!
A couple of years ago I was visiting Colorado and went to a flea market that we came across. We spent a couple hours going through the different booths and seeing everything that each person had. I was digging through a bin at one of the booths and found a manilla envelope. Inside the envelope was blueprints for a 1940s roll top desk. These things were giant! I’m talking 3 foot tall by 5 foot wide! I took them up to the guy and he didn’t even know they were there!
I paid $10 for blueprints! It wasn’t until I got home that I realized I didn’t have one 3×5 blueprint but I had two! One showed how to make the top while the other shows how to make the base. Both of these giant blueprints now hang in my dining room and are a great showpiece.
You never know what you will find when you hit a flea market so if you are trying to add to your collection or just love the thrill of the hunt then flea markets will be tons of fun for you!
Estate sales/ auctions
Estate sales are a great way to find records that have been sitting around for decades! Often an estate sale will be held when someone is downsizing and is trying to sell all of their possessions before they sell their house. Sometimes these sales will be held in a house and prices will be marked with them getting cheaper every day throughout the sale. Other times they will be held as auctions and an auction house will sell a bunch of different people’s possessions at once.
Whether you can get a good deal at these types of sales depends entirely on the person or company who is doing the sale. I’ve seen estate sales that don’t sell anything at all because they have the prices way too high. I’ve even seen some estate sales where they have a print out from eBay of how much that item is listed for on eBay and they have it the same price!
Those are obviously not going to be very good places to find a deal.
Sometimes however you come across a sale or auction that is run by someone who is not only reasonable but is willing to sell things in bulk for even better prices. Those sorts of sales make up for all the bad ones that you will run into.
On a related subject you can also go to storage locker auctions (yes, like Storage Wars). Although you probably won’t find the $50,000 worth of items that they sometimes find on the show you also won’t be paying thousands like they do either. You can often pick up lockers for $30-$50 that have a decent amount of stuff in them.
If you are only wanting to get records then you can keep a sharp eye out and only bid on a locker if you see some records inside. You could also go to the people who bought each locker and tell them you are looking to buy records in bulk and they might be interested in selling any that they find to you for a good price.
Thrift/Second Hand stores
Thrift and second hand stores are great places to pick up specific records that you are wanting to add to your collection. Most of the time you will be able to look through exactly what the records are that they have and only buy the ones that you want.
This can be especially useful if you are only looking to buy records from a specific artist or group.
The huge downside to these stores is that inventory changes on an hourly basis. Most stores will bring out new items throughout the day and whether you are able to find a record might be more luck than anything.
Before you keep going back to a store it is a good idea to double check and make sure that they even sell records. Some thrift stores stopped accepting them because they were getting overrun with them and no one wanted them. Of course that has changed as they are starting to come back into style but some stores still don’t allow them to be donated or sold.
If you want to only look for records online and don’t want to do the legwork of yard sales or hitting up some auctions or stores then you will want to check out the video below. In this video Too Many Records gives his tips on how to find cheap records online.