It happens. Your local record stores crates are empty for a few weeks. Other shops seem to be hit with the same dry spell and you still want something new to take home and enjoy. So you shop online. You have to. With the variety of online resources available for record buying it can be hard to decide where to spend your money.
A good online seller shares a lot in common with a bricks and mortar shop, minus the impersonal experience. I will always want good customer service and fair prices for products and shipping. Aside from reputation, these two traits are what mean the most to me when buying online.
Originating as a zine favored by underground musicians and several cultural icons (Bukowski, Burroughs and Philip K. Dick), Forced Exposure carries a daunting amount of merchandise. From every genre and every corner of the world, music comes into this place waiting for people to order and listen. Anyone with a pension for world music, left field, noise or avant guarde and all those just looking for reissues of classic albums will find something to buy.
An audiophile haven and home to Quality Record Pressings (QRP). Chad Kassem’s humble beginning in 1986 has matured into an online store with everything from general reissues, a solid used inventory, HiFi gear and premium audiophile pressings. The in-house pressing plant manufactures some of the best sounding records on the market and can be distinguished by the QRP logo on product pages, like their reissue of Soundgarden’s Superunknown or CCR’s Cosmo’s Factory.
Another veteran of the underground/independent scene, Experimedia brings in stuff from all over the place. Every visit introduces me to at least 10 things I had never known of before and that converts into a lot of records bought. It’s not just a place for the experimental stuff though, mainstream releases and imports are a major component of their inventory. I usually look here first for records I know may be hard to come by.
Straightforward and easy, the discogs marketplace is a collector-to-collector setup exactly like eBay. It can be easy to find what you’re looking for if you take advantage of the Wantlist feature in your discogs account. Alerts can be configured to let you know when a record you want is up for sale. Transactions are secure, you can use paypal and communicating with sellers is easy. Rate and leave feedback after transactions so other buyers can know who to trust.
Ebay & Amazon
When you can’t find it anywhere else, you might find it here. Make sure you ask questions before you bid and watch for sellers with low feedback scores. Judging a stranger by how many negative ratings they’ve had in the last 6 months is a harsh reality so read the feedback left not just the rating. Buying from sellers with consistently high ratings and positive feedback is the the best way to buy and support good business.
The satisfaction of buying records has always had something to do with the act of digging through them hundreds at a time. Those few weeks of buying nothing make the next find even better. But I do break down because buying records online is sometimes the only way to get what I want.
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Urban Outfitters is not a Record Store