If you’re a music fan in North Texas and you’re not following your favorite record store’s social media accounts, you’re missing out. Sure, it’s nice to know which new releases the shop has on its shelves every Friday, but that’s not the real gold to be had in most cases. The real social media treasure for record shoppers is when shop owners announce their acquisitions of a new vinyl collection to soon hit its shelves.
On May 15, Northwest Dallas shop Josey Records posted a video clip showing off a newly acquired collection of classic heavy metal to its Facebook page. In the clip, a man’s hand flips through titles from Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Quiet Riot, Motorhead and Judas Priest. You can almost hear metal heads from across North Texas screaming "take all my money!”
For crate-digging destinations like Josey, getting their hands on collections of all types and sizes is every bit as important, if not more so, than stocking the shiniest, newest releases. And though some collectors approach the store directly, acquiring new collections for its inventory often requires a great deal of legwork.
Large swap-meet-style record conventions, online forums and even estate sales are some of the ways shops across the country get their hands on large amounts of choice, older titles, but who are the types of people out there, ready to unload such enviable record collections? Josey Records has been opened since 2014, and Josey Records co-owner Luke Sardello says he finds there are “two types of people looking to sell large amounts of records.”
“There are collectors who've spent years acquiring and amassing a collection,” he tells us. “These tend to be genre or artist-specific and are generally in better condition. They will generally have entire runs of a particular artist, label or genre. The second type are accumulators, aka hoarders. They tend to offer just an accumulation of records across all genres and can oftentimes include multiple copies of the same record.”
It’s not that Sardello and his team just accidentally or magically stumble upon its many chances to land a big purchase. There’s a good bit of strategy when it comes to making contact and price negotiations, and he’s careful to not divulge too much about certain business practices. But he acknowledges that spending years building a reputation in good faith has its privileges when it comes to running his business and getting an inside track on the big finds.
“We’re known for being fair and transparent and have built up enough word-of-mouth credibility that people trust that we will make a fair offer,” Sardello says. “As far as larger collections, we've been record collectors for over 50 years collectively and have made contacts throughout the U.S. When something big comes up, we generally hear about it or already know the person that's wanting to sell. We investigate as many leads as we get and travel extensively when needed. That's taken us on road trips as far away as Seattle and New York.”
Though Sardello estimates the average collection Josey purchases “usually numbers between 500 and 1,000 records,” it was what he says was “more of an accumulation than a collection,” consisting of 150,000 LPs and 200,000 45s from a Houston-based seller that enabled him and his team to open Josey Records at the end of 2014. In fact, it’s the largest single inventory purchase Josey has made still to this day.
It’s one thing to negotiate the purchase of an ocean-sized collection, and sometimes it’s another thing entirely to actually take possession of a large new purchase and then get it to where it needs to go.
When discussing his “craziest collection” purchase, Sardello recalls a 2015 acquisition in South Carolina that was notable not so much for its size, although it was for around 100,000 records, but for the high number of hoops he and his team had to jump through simply to get the records off a family-run farm where they had been stored for many years.
“There was a large barn that housed most of the LPs,” he remembers. “The 45s were stored in a makeshift facility that was constructed of three railroad cars side by side. And assorted records beyond that were stored in a grain silo, a pool house and assorted trailers throughout the property. Just trying to figure out where all the records were was a task in itself.
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"Four of us arrived on a Monday to start boxing records. For what we thought may take a day or two. Our first problem was that no single U-Haul (location) in town had enough boxes, so we had to go to every U-Haul and buy every box they had. Then we realized four people wouldn't be enough and we had to get movers to assist from the nearest big city an hour away. After four days of packing, we decided to start bringing in semi-trucks.
"We then discovered that the trucks weren't able to get onto the property because of trees that obstructed the path, so we had to rent a U-Haul truck and ferry loads up to the main road to then put into the semi. By the third semi being loaded, the family had grown restless with us on the property and we had to move the final load to a nearby fire station overnight before finally loading the last semi.”
Intriguing back stories, colorful characters and uncovering unexpected vinyl gold are great, but for Sardello and Josey Records, it’s all about purposefully tending to the fundamentals of doing business and taking the time to do things the right way.
“The most important thing is to be proactive and engaged,” he says. “We spend countless hours researching, traveling and building relationships. That means leaving no stones unturned and looking at everything, in-state or out-of-state. We always personally inspect a collection wherever that leads us. Records are as much a visual experience as they are an auditory experience, so condition is paramount, which means physically seeing each record before we buy them.”