Thanks so much for all of your great comments from “The Turntable, part 1!” I never realized how much interest a turntable story would stir up. Or how much a turntable can shape one’s life.
I was facing a dilemma almost as soon as I bought my new turntable! You see, I wanted more vinyl and I wanted it immediately. As I said, I have a bunch of records (probably several hundred) back in Maryland in a dusty old back office. I will get back there as soon as I can to uncover them and bring them to Utah. But for now, I want more albums to play here!
I am not sure if you have priced LPs lately, but when you walk into any store that sells them you are looking at an average of $25-$30 apiece for new. That is not a misprint. And it’s not unusual to see a $35-$50 price tag if it’s pressed on extra heavy vinyl or maybe has some special color to it. Buying four new LPs for more than a hundred dollars? That is a lot of money to me.
I decided to hit up Craigslist to see if anyone was selling used. No real luck. I just missed a guy by a couple of weeks who apparently unloaded an entire collection for $3-$5 per album. Now that would have been sweet! By the time I messaged him he said his only remaining album was Robert Palmer. Maybe good, but I passed on that! I have the one with Sneaking Sally Through the Alley back in Maryland! I can wait.
So the other day after driving back home from the self-serve car wash to clean all of the salt off of my car (I guess why they call it Salt Lake City!), I took a slight detour and headed back to Randy’s Records to see what was available.
Again… a great selection but about the same price point as the other places.I just was not in the mood to drop a hundred bucks. I did not see many used records there, and the ones I did see were either expensive or I was not interested.
I was just about to leave the store feeling a bit defeated, but as I was walking out, a woman about my age was walking in with a large crate of LPs, presumably to sell. In my peripheral vision I could see that the album on top was Ram by Paul McCartney, one of my absolute favorite post Beatles albums!
The woman went right to the counter where the guy working there asked he if she was bringing them in to sell. Kind of a weird question, right? I mean why else would a woman be walking into this store with a crate of used records? I honest can’t think of one.
Anyway the guy took a cursory look at the crate of records and then told the woman that Jim in the back is the specialist and would be the one to determine the pricing. Jim came out of the back area, and started to look at some of the records. Besides Ram, I saw there was some Cat Stevens, Beatles, Allman Brothers, Doobie Brothers, John Lennon, and a lot more great artists. Each time he picked up a record, he gave her a reason why he could only pay a quarter for it. A few he said he may be able to give a dollar.
I was cringing. Because I would have paid her MUCH more that 25 cents for each of those records!!! If only the timing had been different and I would have seen her in the parking lot ten minutes earlier.
Jim then told the woman he was going to take the entire crate into the back and do a full evaluation, which would take about fifteen minutes. This is really high-level stuff I guess.
I was desperately trying to figure out a way to get a hold of those records because I would have paid MUCH more than the record store guy was hinting he’d pay. I did not know what to do.
While she was waiting for Jim to do his stuff, the woman started browsing some of the records in the store. I could tell that she had no interest in any of the records on the shelves. She was simply wasting time while her stack of records was being appraised.
I tried to make eye contact with her but no luck. So I figured I would just approach her and try to speak with her. But every time I followed her to an area of the store where I thought I could speak to her without the guy a the front counter overhearing, she would walk away from me almost like a magnet repelling another. This went on for several minutes.
I felt like a creep. Or a drug dealer. It was weird.
Finally the opportunity came. I cornered her in the back of the store. I threw her to the floor and got her in a strong body hold. No, just kidding. I didn’t do that! But I did approach her and got kind of close. This was VERY weird for me but I figured I had one shot.
I smiled at her and just said “Wow, I wish I would have seen you in the parking lot before you brought that crate of records in. I think we have the exact same taste in music. I would have given you cash!”
She was super nice. She explained how she was moving and she has had this crate of records in her home for many decades! I told her again that I really wanted them. She suggested that we both go up to the guy who was appraising them and tell him that I wanted to buy them. I said NO WAY, don’t do that! That would not work. I’d end up paying inflated retail.
When I was pretty sure that no one was looking, I looked at the woman and said very softly, “I have cash in my pocket. I don’t want to interfere with this transaction, but here’s what we can do. If you feel that Jim does not offer you what you want, just politely decline. Then I will be waiting outside and I will buy the entire crate from you.”
She looked at me and said “Sure. My car is the grey Toyota out front.”
So I waited outside. I spotted her car. Paced up and down the street a bit. I honestly felt like the creepiest of the creeps. Maybe like Robert Kraft feels as he is scoping out his next Asian Massage Parlor.
Ten minutes later, the woman emerges from the store, full crate of records in her arms. I saw her and she saw me. She whispered in my ear something crazy. “They were only willing to pay me $27 for this entire crate of records, so I just told them I was going to give them to my brother instead.”
I told her that I wanted them, but did not want to make the transaction in front of the record store. So we decided to both drive over to a service station on the next block.
She told me her name was Marie. I assured Marie that I am a professional, actually a doc and I do not make a habit of stalking people in record stores. She smiled and said that she is an ex-police officer with Salt Lake City and had a pretty good intuition that I was safe.
Holy SHIT. A “back room” deal with a cop!!!
She opened the back of her car. The crate of records was right there and it was beautiful. I told her that I was not going to look through all of the records. I didn’t care if some were scratched. I just wanted that stack.
As I was looking through I was salivating. Besides the ones I told you about earlier, there were Rolling Stones, Three Dog Night, Jim Croce, Loggins and Messina,
I looked at Marie and point blank asked her how much she wanted for the crate of vinyl records. She said she didn’t know. Knowing that she took a chance on me, I wanted to be generous. Remember, it would cost me about $25 a pop for a new LP just inside the record store. So I opened up my wallet and handed her $70. Marie said that was way too much and kindly gave me back a twenty dollar bill.
“$50 and we have a deal, but I cannot let you have the crate. I really need it for my move,” she said.
I was kidding around with her and replied “So how am I going to carry all of these records without the crate?”
“OK, the crate is yours! Enjoy!”
We exchanged contact information and we have been in touch with each other ever since. Marie changed my life just a little bit on that special day. I will NEVER forget her. I have a new friend in Salt Lake City. And a crate full of albums! -DMM