Category Archives: Garage Sales

He shoots, he scores (vinyl)!

I stopped at an estate sale on my way home from work the other day. I was interested in the $20 Black & Decker leaf blower that was “featured” in the online ad for the sale. You know, a leaf blower, the thing you use to make your problem your neighbour’s problem? Anyway, while I was there I asked about the records that were also listed in the ad. The guy said he had them in the trunk of his car because he was going to take them to a used record store and try and unload them. Obviously I asked to see them and he obliged.

Now, I don’t know what the weather is like in your part of the world, but here–where I live–it’s full-on winter. We’re talking 10 to 15cm of snow and day time highs of -12 Celsius. I’m sure the seller wasn’t in the mood to stand there on the street while some guy thumbed through the entire 200 LP collection in the trunk of his car and I certainly wasn’t in the mood either. I asked him what was in the collection. He said he wasn’t sure but, in his words, “It’s mostly contemporary.” He then added, “I think there are some Beatles records and some Ella Fitzgerald, maybe some Ray Charles…” It wasn’t much to go on, but his asking price wasn’t out of line (not even close) so I loaded the records and my new leaf blower into the backseat of my car and sped off into the snow and ice.

I’ve since had a chance to thumb through the collection in the warmth and comfort of my home and, “He shoots, he scores!” In total I got 197 records and the leaf blower for less than $100. Of those 197 records, 150 of them are German and British imports. Clearly, the woman that owned them had once lived in Germany (I’m guessing between 1958 and 1970) and had acquired a pretty good collection of jazz (especially female vocal) rock and pop. She did, however, write her name on the back of each and every album, but the records themselves are nearly spotless. And aside from her name on the back covers, the jackets are in very good condition. Some of the highlights:
The Beatles – Hard Day’s Night (original German pressing)
The Beatles – The Beatles Greatest (original German pressing)
The Animals – self-titled (German)
At least 5 Ella Fitzgerald (German)
At least 5 Lena Horne (German)
At least 7 Eartha Kitt (German and UK)
4 or 5 Sarah Vaughan (German and US)
Stan Getz, Duane Eddy, June Christy, Vera Lynn, Joan Baez, Gene Pitney, Cliff Richard, Chubby Checker, Della Reese and, of course, the perfunctory ABBA.

Part of the 197 LP collection I picked up on my way home from work on October 31, 2012

Oh, and a leaf blower.

The leaf blower I scored from the estate sale.

Now, good day and good record hunting.


7-inches of anticipation

Moving Sale Find (Jan. 14, 2012) $10

On my way home yesterday I saw a sign reading “Moving Sale”.  Because it’s winter where I live the sale was being held inside the person’s house.  That’s always uncomfortable.  At least at a garage sale you can walk up the driveway, look at a few things and then pretend to get an urgent text in order to extract yourself from the sea of overpriced Danielle Steel hardcovers and chipped Corelle dinnerware.  No hurt feelings, no awkwardness.  When it’s being held inside the house there’s the removal of shoes, gloves and hats.  You get a glimpse into their life.   You see their children’s artwork hanging on the fridge, you smell what they had for dinner.   You see that they have the same Costco kitchen table as you but theirs is holding up better.  When you walk into that house you are entering into a weird and binding social contract.  Names and pleasantries are exchanged.  Now, when you find out they’re asking $35 for a 1990s Barbie with a missing hand and a Sharpied-on Hitler mustache, it becomes very awkward to adopt a condescending tone to say, “I don’t think so!” and storm off.  Now you have to stop at the front door, tie your shoes (crap, the lace is frayed and came out of the eyelet–doink, doink, doink–this is taking forever) before you can finally make your retreat.

Against my better judgement I went to such a sale in my neighbourhood yesterday afternoon and, well, score.  Maybe.  There on the floor next to the Thighmaster and one of those foot spas that everyone gets for Christmas and then never uses, was a well-worn box of approximately 150 45-rpm records.  My heart started racing.  Game show bells started ringing in my head.  Does she know anything about music?  Will it all be crappy country music from the 80s?  I see picture sleeves.  I offered her $10.  She immediately accepted.  Crap.  I should have said $5.  Attempting to sweeten my score I asked her if she’d throw in that ratty copy of Jim Croce’s Greatest Hits and a Moby Grape LP that were both in horrendous condition.  Yes.  I left without tying my shoes or zipping my jacket.

It was all I could do this morning to stay in bed past 5:30am.  All I could think about was that tattered box of 45s I left on the kitchen table last night.  Even harder to do was sit down and write this post before taking a look.  What’s in there?  I guess I’ll find out in just a few minutes now.  But let me just say this.  Even if it turns out they’re totally worthless or scratched and scarred beyond playability, it was $10 well spent just for the anticipation.  For anyone that has forgotten what Christmas Eve felt like when you were 7-years old, buy a box of records at a flea market or garage sale and then don’t look at them until the following morning.  Exhilarating at the very least.