The You-Phoria Guide to Selling Your Used CDs

Fri Jul 24 2009

Times are tough, so although I hated to do it, I combed through my CD collection to see what discs I could possibly live without (after ripping them all into iTunes, of course). I came up with 41 albums, surely enough to warrant a trip to my local record shop. As it turned out, I had to go to four stores, but I was able to unload all but two. But who will pay the most for your used goods? Read on to find out.

My first stop, naturally, was Rush-Mor Records in Bay View. Nothing will ever take the place of Atomic, but Rush-Mor is my new second home, if only because it has more character than the other places in town, and better conversation. I’d never attempted to unload anything here, but I knew that proprietor Dan Duchaine would give me a fair shake for whatever he thought he could sell. Rush-Mor caters primarily to the rockabilly/punk/metal/prog factions, so it wasn’t like I expected him to buy my Go! Team CD or anything. When all was said and done, I walked away with $50 for 21 discs, not bad, especially since they were all pretty much useless to me.

Next stop was The Exclusive Company on Farwell. It’s an okay place, but a part of me will probably always feel a little bitter towards the store for outlasting Atomic. It’s a chain, but it is a Wisconsin business, so I can’t really hate it. This joint has a slightly more scientific method of determining how much your used junk is worth, what with the computers and all, so the clerk suggested I browse while he tabulated--sneaky! In the end, I was offered an average of one to three dollars apiece, $21 for eight discs, if I took it in store credit; sixteen bucks if I wanted cash. Times being what they are, I chipped away at the backlog of music I need to buy and gave ‘em their money right back. I figure if they’re going to give me four bucks for Serj Tankian’s solo album (suckers!), they could use the money.

I wasn’t expecting much, but I dropped by Bullseye anyway. Those guys are really more interested in your older records, particularly jazz, soul, and other oldies, and most of what I had was newer indie stuff. “I’m so out of touch”, owner Luke Lavin admitted as he picked through my stragglers. You’ll see some of that stuff in their eclectic used CD racks, and it’s always worth browsing there if you can handle the thick record-store-guy sarcasm that permeates the room (especially if both dudes are there). No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll probably be tempted by something in the racks. Lavin was only willing to take a chance on one disc, a Bright Eyes/Neva Dinova split EP that he generously gave me three bucks for. Based on that, I might have been better off stopping here first, but he might have just felt sorry for me. I’ll remember that next time, although my days of recklessly buying CDs might be over, so there might not BE a next time.

Finally, I trudged to CD Max, or Mega Music X-change (XTREME!!!), whatever they’re calling themselves these days. With the cache of winners I had left, I was figuring on about a quarter apiece. This place features what is obviously an even more precise system for assessing the value of one man’s trash; it took the clerk about five minutes per disc to lazily scan, punch the keyboard, scan again, punch, open the booklet, etc., etc., as he gabbed with his stoner buddy about people coming in trying to sell their clothes. I guess in the long run, the walk and the wait was worth the eleven dollars I got for eight more discs, but only because I was virtually flat broke, and crap like Jeremy Enigk’s The Missing Link I might have just left on the counter for nothing.

It had been a good day. I made $85 and only ended up with two discs that nobody wanted: Forts by The Boggs (with the elaborate packaging and the disc in perfect condition, I have no idea why this one wouldn’t jump, but I’m going to have to give it a couple more spins to determine conclusively if it’s really that worthless) and Billy Corgan’s first solo album before he started calling himself Smashing Pumpkins, The Future Embrace (yeah, it was all about the ill-fated solo albums by singers from once-great bands); I guess that fucker got his revenge on me for calling him a bitch. The lesson was a simple one, though: somehow, your locally-owned indie record shop will give you more money, maybe because they give a shit about music and customers. And unless you’re desperate for a few measly bucks (or it’s only a few blocks away and you’re doing research for a blog), don’t bother with the actual “used CD” chains; for them, it’s just a job.

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