Don’t Be a Mark: Avoid Setting Yourself to Get Ripped Off in the World of Vinyl Records
So you’ve heard about the renaissance of vinyl as a viable audio format in the time of iTunes and MP3. And why not? Vinyl is back to being hip and trendy. For most people, that is more than enough reason to dive into the deep end of the vinyl spectrum – with usually disastrous results on their balance sheets.
Because contrary to what many people think about the whole vinyl record industry, there is no noble cause in sticking to the format. Get that out of your head.
The thing is, there are just as many shrewd and enterprising operators in the vinyl world as there are in your local Apple store.
Think about it: this is the only time in recent history that the amplifiers, speakers, records, and other related products they are flogging are at their highest peak in terms of value. There is no noble cause and romance about vinyl now that everybody’s cashing in on a format that’s almost been forgotten.
In short, there are many operators out there who want to take advantage of your inexperience and separate you from your hard-earned money, effectively making you a money mark.
Now by no means do we want to tar every merchant with the same brush, but we do want you not to leave yourself out there for the kill.
See, I’ve had to learn this the hard way, just before the vinyl boom started. And this is why I want to share the three things you have to keep in mind before you make the same mistakes as I did.
Never Pay Over the Odds for Secondhand Items
There will be items that you may consider rare. Perhaps it’s that live album by the CTI All-Stars you’ve been looking for since you were in high school. Perhaps its that first pressing of Iron Butterfly’s “Heavy”. Vinyl dealers only know too well that when they have figured your taste in music out, and if you bite at the first price they give you on their records (seeing that you really like the band, for instance), you’ve just turned yourself into a mark that keeps on giving – even if the record they’re selling you is all tattered and torn and melted.
“But it’s the first pressing of Disraeli Gears!”
Yes, and it’s been gathering dust and mold in some warehouse that’s been flooded out twice.
Always remember that most vinyl out there is of a secondhand nature; this alone should give you an idea of what to pay for and what not to pay for.
Always Do Your Research
See, getting into vinyl isn’t as simple as buying, say, a faucet. Why? Because there is a wealth of information on faucets on the internet. For instance, you could easily find information on a particular brand and model of a faucet from a respected manufacturer at a site like Faucet Assistant. Vinyl, on the other hand, is not as cut and dried when it comes to pricing. Some records are overvalued, as are some pieces of hi-fi amplifiers or speakers.
Case in point (at the risk of sounding like a mark), an enterprising vinyl merchant in my city I paid a visit to set me up as a money mark. Me, being the romantic lover of all things analog, wanted to start my vinyl collection at all costs. In short, I asked him much he would sell me the amplifier he uses to play records at the shop. Granted, it was an old Technics SU-V7X. I didn’t know how much it was worth then, but I did have a lot of money laying around and was determined to take it home at all costs. To make a long story short, I was tricked into buying it at its sticker price when it came out in the 1980’s, as opposed to its true market value: $60. I basically paid him money to take my pants off in public.
Resist the Temptation of Rushing to Make a Purchase
Please, please, please (to quote the Godfather of Soul, James Brown) resist the temptation of buying a beat-up record that you consider to be rare because you think you won’t ever have the chance to buy it again. It’s the oldest trick in the book. Always know that you have the power to walk away from a record store that sees dollar signs all over you; it’s not going to be the end of the world if you don’t buy it right now. There are plenty of bargains out there, and vendors who sell their wares at a fair price; don’t be a money mark like I was.
You’ve now been blessed with the knowledge that will save your wallet from unscrupulous merchants out there; use it wisely.