HOW WE BUY:
Martin Koppel sold his first record back in 1965 when the entire town of Goole, England (population 4,000 people and some sheep) had their collective minds blown by the fact that he had a copy of “Candy” by the Astors on Blue Stax (which they had never seen), and for the rest of the year he was the most popular teenager in all of North-Eastern Yorkshire, East of the River Ouse.
Below are a few common questions about HOW we buy. Be sure to check out WHAT we buy, and WHERE, but first: here’s a long preamble about what makes us different, followed by a more in-depth FAQ!
The first thing that sets us apart is that we’re a family business, and so for us it’s all about giving you a positive experience, because we know that chances are the records you’re bringing us belong(ed) to a loved one, therefore, to us your records are their memories, and life story, not a commodity to be “picked”. The second thing is, we love records, and have literally hundreds of thousands of them: some of them from other stores that closed, some from radio stations that sold them when they went fully digital, some from local musicians, and a fair number are from employees from other record stores in the city. Most of them though, of course, are from everyday people who are downsizing, helping out a relative to clear out their place, or have inherited a loved one’s life’s work.
What we found on most other record buyers’ websites was that they were just full of negative terms like “we don’t buy this” or “I only buy quality records”, and state that they only buy your “top-shelf used” or even have a series of negative tirades about the other shops in the city. That’s not us. We’re not into the negativity of saying “No” to a collection that was basically someone’s life. While we might not be able to offer something for every single one your records, we’ll at least tell you what does and doesn’t have a value in today’s market, and that way even if you choose to sell them somewhere else, you at least know what pieces of your collection are of value. The other key is that we NEVER throw records in the trash. Our $1 and value bins are some of our most popular items, and we get so many young kids getting into vinyl that we can always find your records a home, and never have an issue with our inventory being cluttered with dollar records.
You may also notice, when it comes to buying records, we were the first store to start using the term “Fair” in our motto as opposed to “Best”, or “Highest”, or “Most Paid”, because as a family business we believe in fairness and transparency, and also because we’ve been doing it so long we know that being honest works best in the long-run. 40 years on, we’ve set the standard for buying practises, and a lot of shops that have come and gone have seen that our method of buying, like Snow White, is the fairest of them all, and they now imitate us (which is the sincerest form of flattery!) Finally, you may notice we don’t offer guarantees or use terms like the “best” price, or “highest offer”. We don’t use these terms because the idea of the “best price” and “highest price” is such a nebulous term. Anyone trying to run a shop out of their loft can claim they’ll give you the best price for your records, however we tell you what does and doesn’t sell, and thus don’t asset strip your collection.
Some other places claim you should sell to them first, because they’ll pay top dollar for 4 of your 300 records. This is called “picking” a collection, and when someone “picks” the gems from your collection, it’ll be harder to sell because places will be less willing to take a collection that’s obviously been “picked”. We suggest selling your collection as a whole for this reason, even if it’s not to us.
Q: I hear records are making a comeback! My parents must be sitting on a gold mine, aren't they?
A: Records are like collectable sports cards. There are hundreds of millions of them around, but of those hundreds of millions, people either want to buy a brand new booster pack (like they buy a brand new Radiohead release), or they're on the hunt for that Wayne Gretzky on O-Pee-Chee (like they're looking for the rare Beatles Butcher Cover). There's not much middle ground sadly. Tens of millions of ABBA records have been made (and continue to be made) and though the music is great, they're in every collection, and are quite common. With records, these are the most important things, when it comes to value in order of importance:
3) The pressing info (country of origin and year of pressing)
4) The condition. Even if it’s beat, we’ll always find a home for a Led Zeppelin record for example.
More than anything, we just want to make sure you're in the right mindset when it comes to records and their value, because we know your records will also have a strong sentimental value.
Q: I want to sell my own/siblings/parents/children/relative/friend's record collection, what are some of the pitfalls I should avoid? What should I know?
A: First and foremost try to keep your collection whole. We see it all the time, someone has either let their friends, kids, or family members go through their stuff and pull aside anything they want. Of course, we want you to keep it in the family! They’re your records, and they hold an emotional value no amount of money can match. Just keep in mind this usually results in a collection that’s what we call “picked”. Everyone wants to pull aside the Bowie and the Prince records, no one’s pulling aside Zamfir. Another thing that happens is people selling at a garage sale/yard sale. This may seem successful at first as people are snapping up your stuff, however in actuality, your most valuable items are getting “picked”, and (once again) the less valuable items are getting left over. In both cases the end result will be you trying to shop around a collection of leftover items that most stores will either refuse, or offer far less than you could have gotten as a whole. In sum, your items that did have a value will have gone for far less than they could have. We’ve seen other buyers/stores who don’t have the facilities to buy a whole collection do a whole rigamarole trying to make it sound like you should sell them your 4 best items, and dump the remaining 296 onto someone else. Once again, a “picked” collection is harder to sell, because if you’ve sold Led Zeppelin I, and II, their most popular ones, it’s harder to sell “Coda” by itself. Most places know this will be a harder item to sell. When we purchase a collection, we separate it into piles, so you can see what's valuable and why.
The second pitfall is selling the records you "don't want" from your collection, meaning (for example), “I want to keep my David Bowie, but I'll sell my Yes albums”. You'll be disappointed to learn that most of the time, the items you want to get rid of are the same items other collectors want to get rid of, and the ones you want to keep are the ones that have a value (usually).
Finally, obviously we recognize that the internet exists, and isn’t going away anytime soon, but while we love the enthusiasm shown by people who look up their albums online, or want to list them all in an Excel file, it's best asking us first, as, after 40 years, we tend not to need lists. Nick and Martin can size up a collection in 10 minutes, and after 10 minutes we can either tell you how long it’ll take to price up your stuff, or will already have an offer for you. Additionally, a lot of times people have brought us in a record thinking it was a rare original, or an odd foreign press, when in actually it was just a standard reissue or a bootleg (there are a lot more of them out there than you may think!)
It's also important to remember that if you're going to try and look your albums up online to self-appraise them, look at what it last SOLD for, not what someone is hoping to get for it, as anyone can put any price on an item. What's important is what someone has PAID for it. eBay has a nifty "sold listings" feature you can use.
Also note: if you're using Discogs to look up albums go by 'Sold' listings too. Remember to keep in mind: 1) if it hasn't sold for a while, that means that the listed prices are too high, 2) how many people want it vs have it 3) how many copies are for sale (meaning how common it is).
We don’t try and pretend Discogs doesn’t exist, so we’re happy to help you read the numbers!
At the end of the day though, you have to be comfortable with your decision to sell, so if there's any way we can ease the process, don't be afraid to ask!
Q: I don't have a car / I live 30 minutes or more outside of Toronto / I have a car, but as a septuagenarian, I don't have the mobility to lug around my collection. Can you come to me?
A: Of course! However, whether we can come to you or not is based on how many records you have, what kind of collection it is, how far you are, and the titles/condition. If you're unsure, just ask.
Q: I live in Ajax/Whitby/Oshawa. Do I really have to drive all the way downtown?
A: Nope! one of Nick or Martin is at our Oshawa store during store hours and would be happy to look at your collection.
Q: What happens if I don’t agree with the price you’ve offered?
A: Honestly, we don’t like the old-school style of low-balling an offer because we figure you’ll come back with a higher price and then we’ll reach a compromise (à la “Pawn Stars” or “Storage Wars”). Our offers are honest, fair, and transparent. Our offers are usually firm because the old-school haggling doesn’t work in today’s age of the internet. We also strongly disagree with places using the “sunk cost fallacy”, whereby they figure you’ll accept a lower offer because you can’t be bothered to load up your collection back into your car and try to shop them around. This isn’t us. We’re here to help you load and unload, and if you say “no” we accept that. As Mum Koppel says “never leave anyone with a sore heart”.
Q: There are over 50 record stores in Toronto and the GTA, all offering to buy my used! How do I know to pick Kops???
A: We're a family store; we've been buying and selling since 1976, and believe strongly in transparency. Martin himself has been buying and selling since 1965! We've got the knowledge, the background, and the expertise to quickly and easily assess your collection. We want to find your records a good home. We don’t need a bunch of testimonials to prove that: one conversation with Martin or Nick will prove it!
Hopefully, you've made it this far down! Our stores pride themselves on education and customer service, so ask any questions you have! As we keeping saying: there’s no secrets in this digital age, so we’re open and forthright
For more information, to place special orders and to set up appointments, fill out the form below, or give us a call at Danforth any day between 11-6, at (647) 347-0095 and ask for Martin or Nick.
And most importantly: There's no such thing as stupid/silly questions! We'll answer any you may have (Just check your spam folder first!)