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Finding Quality Vinyl Records Online- It Is Easier Than You Think

Jan 25, 2008
While CD sales continue to plummet and music consumers go "digital," there is an audio format that has endured through all the other formats that were supposed to bring it to its demise. As we read about the resurgence in the production and sale of vinyl records (up ten percent from last year), some still assume that finding vinyl is a hard process.

And although the 'brick and mortar' stores may be closing up shop, a new avenue for vinyl lovers has come to the forefront; the 'online record shop.'

From the 'big box' online retailers like Music Stack, GEMM, Net Music, and even ebay to the small independent dealers like vinylcollective.com, diversevinyl.com, heydj.com and many more, finding quality new and used vinyl records has become quite easy.

I spoke with Lorie Beshara operator and owner of a small vinyl website called BackToVinylRecords.com about this phenomenon and the enjoyment she gets from, not only the music, but this historic format as well.

"I have been selling vinyl records since the year 2000, but I have been collecting vinyl forever," Lorie said. "I was raised in a family of musicians and I have a great love and appreciation for all kinds of music. In fact, my Mother was a singer with some of the all-time greats including Ted Weems, Artie Shaw and Les Brown, among others. My Father was a very famous drummer (at one time he was named the drummer of the year) and he also produced a band called Fuse. I still have some of my Mother's old records; I cannot bring myself to part with those."

I asked Lorie if she remembered the first 45 rpm that she purchased.

"Oh my, yes, the first 45 I bought was "Surfer Girl," by the Beach Boys, when I was fourteen. They were very popular and I just loved their sound," recalled Lorie.

She held on to all her records and she decided to go into business online selling used vinyl that she has accumulated over the years from garage sales, estate sales, thrift stores and what she can find locally. But before she opened www.BackToVinylRecords.com, she had to research the best methods of cleaning and grading records.

"Some of the records are so dirty, but will certainly play great once they are cleaned up a bit. So I did extensive research as to the optimum way to clean and grade them," said Lorie.

After trying several different methods, Lorie has discovered a simple, yet very effective way, to clean up the records she has for sale.

"Each record is meticulously cleaned using a UPI Record Cleaning Machine using ionized water, which helps eliminate static. It also takes off all the dust, dirt, human oils and nicotine off the records," explained Lorie. "Then I dry the records with a microfiber cloth."

We talked about the very subjective and tricky element of grading vinyl records.

"I am very, very picky about my grading and especially so with a rare and valuable record," detailed Lorie. "All the records I sell are, not only professionally cleaned, but I also "play grade" them (for 45's I play grade the 'A' side) and I love listening to the old music. I then incorporate the Goldmine Grading Standard to them and give the buyer a clear indication of the quality of a record. I do grade conservatively and the condition of the album cover (for 33 rpm) or the 45 rpm record sleeves are also taken into account. I use Jerry Osborne's "Cyberguides," (which is a real-time weekly update of his Rockin' Records Price Guide) GEMM or Musicstack to gage what a particular record may be selling for and combined with the condition, I ascertain how much I will be selling the record for."

Besides BackToVinylRecords.com website, Lorie also sells her records on ebay.

"Ebay is a wonderful option, you have a targeted buyer that may be looking for exactly what you are selling," said Lorie. "It is also a great place to find rare and undervalued records. And we sell 45's from all genres, from big band, blues and country to folk, gospel, rock and everything in-between."

But Lorie and her husband have also incorporated a novel concept with the records that don't pass her strict grading policies. They have created the "Rock N Roll Beverage Coaster," a fast-selling novelty gift.

"These 45 rpm coasters make great gifts and conversation pieces," added Lorie. "We take an unplayable oldie, coat it in a thick high gloss acrylic finish, add a cork backing and they fit into any bar or living room. These are used records, so the labels may show signs of wear and tear and slight defects, but that is their charm."

In a musical arena filled with thousands of online retailers pitching vinyl records, it is refreshing to find a small "Mom & Pop" shop, where you can not only find quality used vinyl records, but have personal service, a unique gift option and a music lover that appreciates the memories that we all have of our treasured music format.
About the Author
Author Robert Benson writes about rock/pop music, vinyl record collecting and operates http://www.collectingvinylrecords.com, where you can pick up a copy of his ebook called "The Fascinating Hobby Of Vinyl Record Collecting." Contact Robert at robert@collectingvinylrecords.com
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