Sunday, September 13, 2015

TALES FROM YARD SALES


Yard sales – the vinyl frontier.  For those of us record geeks who are addicted to the thrill of the hunt, nothing holds more promise than the Saturday trolling of local yard sales in search of vinyl.  You never know what’s hiding out there behind that box of mildewed clown wigs and My Little Pony figurines.

This week’s adventure brought us to 3 locations.  House #1 held the most promise:   less than a mile away, with “hundreds of albums.” As in 99% of these sales, it was mostly future landfill and moldy Salvation Army rejects, from the usual buffet of soundtracks, Mitch Miller sing-alongs, and the King and Queen of yard sale LPs, Andy Williams and Barbra Streisand.   I managed to cull 20 or so decent things out of the crates, and proceeded to the negotiations portion of the event. 

It’s always advisable to pick your mark carefully when trying to negotiate.   Drunken Grandma saw me while I was inspecting for condition, and insisted “everything is in pristine shape, I took care of my records!’” spoken at the same time as I was tossing an LP that was missing a fist-sized chunk back into the scrum.  I tried my luck with Bored Grandpa, but he told me to find his daughter. 

I had high hopes for a successful negotiation with Daughter.  Wives at yard sales view LPs as garbage that they’ve been trying to get rid of for years.  A reasonable offer should find success.  But my hopes were quickly dashed as she replied “You’ll have to talk to my husband, the records are his department.” 

Getting tossed from Wife to Husband is never a good thing.  This has now become a territorial battle between them.  “She wants to get rid of my stuff?  We’ll see about THAT!”  So, what should have been a “I have 20 LPs – does $25 sound fair?,” with some haggling and eventually settling around $32, became a hardline stance of “50 bucks.”   Geez  buddy, I thought you wanted to sell this junk, and not just take it out for a morning in the sun, and then put it back in the cellar.  Sorry, but we shan’t be doing business.

Stop #2 was less promising than #1, a driveway filled with artsy crafty junk, and little kids running all over.  But much to my surprise, the dig through the boxes yielded a copy of the Beach Boys “Sunflower” LP!!
I’ve been in love with that LP since 1973 or so.  It was the 1st BBs album I ever got new, even though it was 3 yrs old at the time.   A commercial disaster BITD, it’s a tremendous group effort with strong tunes and lush, full production, and has aged beautifully. First copy I’ve ever seen at a yard sale.

Its former owner saw me eyeballing it, and we started talking about which cuts we loved on it, where it fell in the band’s history, yadda yadda.  Unfortunately this copy was scratched to bits.  “That’s because I listened to it a million times,’ she said.  I was about to ask her to marry me when I realized that the brats running around were probably her grandkids. 

Stop #3 was in the middle of no place, and I thought about skipping it altogether.  But I was already on the road, and one of the rules of yard sale digging is “If you don’t look, you don’t find.”  This guy’s stash was the smallest of the day, but his ratio of quality vs quantity was easily the best, as I dug out 15 mint condition 45s ( Stones, Donovan,  Left Banke), plus mint copies of “Something Else” by the Kinks, and “I’ve Got My Own Album To Do” by Ron Wood.  15 singles, 2 LPs, a quick and dirty negotiation settlement at $15, and we had our Catch of The Day!!

That’s it for this time around - I’ll see you again at the next Steaming Heap!

- Salvi C 

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