As a collector and digger, the pandemic has really put a damper on things for not only me but fellow collectors across the globe who aren’t able to get out of the house and do their daily shopping for whatever they maybe into. Being able chat it up with shop owners or other customers in brick and mortar establishments is something that brings us all together to discover knew things, exchange stories and of course buy records. But as a person who enjoys getting fingers dusty, I have to say that I’ve felt cheated for a long time now when it comes to the discovery part of finding the unknown. I remember when shops started having listening stations set up for customers to sample what they were buying before making the purchase which seemed odd to me (unless of course you were a casual listener or buyer then I totally understand). But as diggers, it seemed to easy to always buy the “perfect” record that wasn’t actually discovered. There’s always been something special about being out on a Saturday afternoon hitting the shops, pulling something that you either knew or something that you didn’t, but it had an interesting cover or you read the liner notes and realized that you were familiar with who played drums and gave the record a chance. Sometimes you would get home and it would be a total gem that you applaud your Spidey senses for recognizing while other times it would lack anything appealing but no record goes unused in my opinion. While the shop owners did all of the digging and hard work for you to come in and buy the goods, at a premium price of course, going to the flea market or a musty basement / warehouse with a portable and sifting through stacks of records, sometimes damaged over time always felt more appealing when finding something totally left field or that grail that you’ve spent years looking for.
Although we’ve been unable to get out of our homes to dig, Instgram seems to be the new way of selling records. I’ve been enjoying grabbing a few pieces from trusted dealers who have been offering up unfamiliar items that I’ve taken chances on simply because I trust their ears. On the flip side of the coin, the ease of buying other records has become too easy with the usage of sound clips to sell it. It’s actually a gift and a curse for the seller to do so at this point. Example: Seller lists records and includes soundclip, buyer listens and purchases record, then when it arrives to their home the first time listening excitement isn’t there because you’ve already taken in the full experience on YouTube. It also opens the gate for people to then find a copy on Discogs for cheaper and purchase that one instead of yours, which they never would’ve known about in the first place. I have a strict policy with myself that if I discover a record in a persons shop, then I always purchase it from them because it would still be unknown to me if I hadn’t been there.
Over the years, I’ve had plenty of conversations with fellow collectors and diggers, some that I’ve known for years while others recently meeting and everyones opinions and methods are similar in how they’re obtaining records but with the dividing line coming down to money. Collecting has always been about risks (especially pre internet) and while people spend more money now, they want to spend less on taking chances and would rather build a collection quick. One of the things that I’ve enjoyed over the years of collecting is buying something that didn’t necessarily catch my ear at the time but then fast forwarding and having matured my sound, those records have not only become favorites in the collection but have also appreciated in value on the secondary market. They were all records that I honestly wasn’t feeling back then and never would’ve bought if I heard them but as they say, records find you, you don’t find them.