Friday, December 30, 2016

St. Vincent [Grand Rapids MI]

Headed up to Grand Rapids yet again late in 2016 and was able to pull off one more (successful!) dig before the clock strikes midnight.  I have thoroughly hunted the entire city and documented it much so, that I haven't bothered to look at much of anything for a while.  This time I decided I'd stop at just one store, and I'd do St. V's as I've only been in there once and it's been a good long while.

First things first, they moved the rack and kind of rearranged the whole area.  I was specifically on the lookout for a record I left behind, but like everything you leave behind, it will be gone when you return.  Just to teach you a lesson.  I checked everything in that rack and found all junk except for a weird Engelbert comp I've never seen before, and have since come to find is only half of a two record set.  No matter to me, I'll take it.  I was a little disappointed and started poking around corners looking for more vinyl when I spotted an overloaded bookshelf just 10' away!


In here I pulled out a major score, yet another Bob James record to add to my collection! And this just after I walked away from a trove of his stuff I needed in Buffalo, under the pretense that I ought to be buying this stuff slowly but surely from a thrift store and not conveniently all at once in a record store.  The fact that my arms were already loaded with scores out east did help with the patience to walk away.

I did some research and figured out where I've gotten all the vinyl I have so far.  Just two left!


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Record Theatre [Buffalo NY]

I visited Buffalo on the same work related issue almost exactly two months prior.  This time I came back not for a high pressure meeting (October's work) but a high pressure session of service work for which I predicted many people would look over my shoulder and nit pick me half to death.  But before the misery always comes pleasure, when possible.  So I departed from the airport directly to Record Theatre and not my hotel as so many others might have considered.

$30 later (what a rip off, can't wait until Uber's powerful lobbyists defeat the taxi unions in NY state) I arrived in a quiet part of town across the street from a college.  I made my entrance with a deep sigh as I hate shopping in record stores, as ridiculous as such a view might seem from someone who has a blog about record collecting.  The answer is of course that I revel in garage sales, basements, thrift stores and other hell holes but you know that by now, faithful readers.

As usual, I walked around like a scared child, lost in the mall, their parents disappeared off in the food court or wandering the parking lot looking for the minivan with (most of) the kids in tow.  I gravitated to the 7"s as I saw they were alphabetized and in sleeves.  I found a couple Tom Jones Parrot singles and saw that one I did not have.  So I started clutching that as I blindly pretended to know what I was looking for, casually pretending to look for things carrying on.

I came across a very mildly interesting bossa nova record that I didn't need and almost didn't even want.  But it was only a couple bucks and 'I guess I might as well buy something.'

Then the flood gates opened.  I don't remember what I found first because it was a blur.  Somewhere in here I put the Sergio record back because my scores were so vast.  I looked at the Bob Gates stuff and not only was everything I need there but it was all under $5.  I had to hold back so I returned the copy of Three and tried to compose myself as I clutched my existing scores tighter, ever vigilant against non-existent thieves who knew what I had and determined I was not worthy.  Was this my own inner collector's self-worth speaking, channeled by the good fortune I was living and refusing to accept it?

K.* & J.J.* - Israel
Already one of my favorite (or at least most played) 3000 series CTI cuts, I was pleased to find the promo version (now have four promos from that series) and for only $5.  Too good to be true.

Tom Jones - Funny Familiar Forgotten Feelings
They had a nice stash of mixed Parrot era Tom, was glad to find this one in mono as I already have the stereo version.  Only his first six came in both formats, of the 18 he produced for that label.  I put some serious work into a nice spreadsheet that I have made in varying degrees of completion over the years, this one melted my brain and made me want to take a nap, badly.  Glad it's done and gladder to share it wit you.

Flora Purim - Carry On
I have seven of eight of her Milestone Records catalog and while I still want the last one (though it looks like it might have been released by that label only in the UK?), it is not difficult for me to pass on post-Milestone work (of which this would be the first).  That is of course, unless it is a 'label copy' with generic sleeve, internal memo attached, generic center labels and all for a fiver.  Are you kidding???

Max Webster - High Class In Borrowed Shoes
A little disappointed that it isn't the Canadian version but I've enjoyed the other I grabbed so much (also USA version) this was an easy decision, especially for only $2 and still in its shrink.

I securely my stash close against my chest and darted to the counter to square up and head out.  But the fun wasn't over - they urged me to enter a raffle for one of many prizes and of course I did.


They were all for various 'prize packs': vinyl, maybe a T-shirt or poster thrown in, that kind of thing.  Only one really appealed to me.

I have been faithfully listening to 'Nothings Shocking' since about 7th grade...I wasn't even aware of this box set but this definitely appeals to me and I'd love to own it.  Fingers crossed...


I walked about a block back to the train, which I rode south into downtown and my hotel.  I checked in and had a few beers with lunch which was followed by a nice nap.  My perfect day continued with an awesome dinner and even more beer as our start the next day got pushed back to 9:30am (ended up not starting until almost 11am).  So all in all, a damn near perfect trip!

Not to forget: my colleague from Buffalo who met with me for dinner eagerly listened to my wondrous tales in his city and when he heard I was a vinyl collector, he offered to let me peruse a box of singles he had.  He brought them in the next morning and I had a look while I ate my breakfast.

Found quite a few worthy of note and walked away with a single I already own the 12" of, but am a giant fan of.  I do still consider this to be a great song for checking your sound system, learned that while testing a PA in a friend's bar many moons ago.  A moment I'll remember for a long time to come - much like my idyllic repose in Buffalo!

Minimizing Minneapolis' Mighty Millieu

I've been up to Minnesota a few times, but this trip was unique.  I flew in but did not have a rental car so I was reliant on my local colleagues to cart me around.  When that ended, I was on my own - which is fine with me.  This time I was in the heart of Minneapolis and as expected for a December in that region, it was cold, hovering around 0 Farenheit at mid day.  When I was done with my work, I had to carefully craft a few excuses explaining why I did not want a ride (or have one) and that I'd be fine to walk, even in this weather.  Of course they could never accept that I simply enjoyed being alone, wanted to spend the afternoon looking at grimy old records in a junked out thrift store, and that the ice cold didn't bother me at all (and I was well prepared for it).

So I headed south on Washington for the one mile jaunt to the Salvation Army on 4th.

I wandered around long enough that I started to become convinced that there were no records in this store...I couldn't even find any books.  But alas, it is always in the place you look last, just inside the door.  And oh how many they had - eight crates! I discarded my heavy coat and got in for the big dig.

I didn't find anything but as I searched I soon had a mate.  It is rare that I have to rub elbows with anyone on my digs and rarer still in a place like this.  Compounding the unlikeliness of it all, it was indeed a female about my age.  Nothing was spoken and I watched her out of the corner of my eye.  I always figure that people are looking at records as a novelty or some kind of mistake - they couldn't possibly share the same interest.  Unless of course they look exactly like me, which she didn't.

Well this is probably one of my best sneaky shots ever, it is so good I would swear she knew I was taking a photo and wanted to pose.  Can't beat the U of M hat, either.  Can you believe while I walked away empty handed, she strolled out with 2 or 3? I looked through all those bins - what on earth did she get? I didn't see anything that was even moderately interesting.  But hey - major kudos for spinning that junk into gold.

Later that that night in my hotel out in Mendota Heights near the airport, I went on a frozen stroll (it was -2 or -3 at this point).  I had the hotel shuttle drop me off in the area and when done I took an Uber the ~2.5 miles back.  In the meantime, I had a burrito at Chipotle, stopped at a liquor store for some brews and went out of my way to go back to Goodwill Eagan where I abandoned a very odd record long ago.  I stomped through a huge snow bank to take a very short short cut to the front door and got a boot full of powder as a result.

Fittingly, my vinyl was gone and it looked like the whole area had been cleaned up pretty well.  Learn from me kids- when you get that impulse, follow it and learn to discern between lust and intelligent love for a vinyl.  And when you feel that love, take it home kids, take it home.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Back to Battle Creek (and GR) + three year anniversary!

Before I begin today's tale, just wanted to acknowledge that just a couple weeks ago is the three year anniversary of my first post on this blog, which now totals nearly 300 posts.  This post is the 150th tagged 'thrift store' so just to do some very, very rough math at 25 records each, that is nearly 4000 records.  In the thousands of records I have tossed through over the years, I never thought I'd have such a big project like this blog, of which I am extremely proud.  My work is far from done.  So on that note......

Had a wild journey scheduled to drive up to Battle Creek on a Wednesday afternoon, spend some time there, then drive another hour to GR, spent the night, work all day (430am wake up call), then stay again in GR and drive home Friday.  I had hunted very briefly in BC a few years ago.

I pulled it off without a hitch - sort of.  I forgot some negligible work supplies for starters.  I attribute this to having come home from NH for only about 24 hours and heading out again.  But worse yet, I did not have my own bag with clothes and a toothbrush.  I had already planned to get into town early (appointment was at 1:30pm) so I could eat lunch - so I also stopped to get a new shirt at - where else - Goodwill.

As always, I walked in with my head on a swivel looking for the bookshelves.  It is always impossible to find the records from a distance, but the books are more obvious and the two always share a proximity.  That is until now - never saw a 'Media Center' in a Goodwill before!

Found three big totes of vinyl with nothing but junk, save for a mono version of Engelbert's first, replete with promotional sticker on the actual jacket.  Mono versions are rare, and the sticker even more so.  This might have interested me if I didn't already have four copies of the album, two of which are mono, and one of which is sealed with the same sticker.  In fact, it is easy to remember where I got it - ironically in the same state, long ago! It does seem odd that the label would put the sticker directly on the jacket - I wonder if someone carefully peeled it off the shrink when they purchased it way back when, then quickly reapplied it to the jacket to save it.

I didn't hit anywhere else in BC due to time constraints and I've hunted GR so many times I didn't even care.  But when my long day wound down Thursday, I thought I'd make a trip over to Grandville and probably my favorite record store in the world, Corner Record Shop.

For starters, they got a new sign! I have visited them a couple times and always made out well and had fun.  There were a few other changes in store also since I first stopped by over two years ago. So glad to see that they are obviously quite prosperous.

The coolest part of the store to me is the huge aircraft hanger type space behind the store, which had many thousands of records up on a mezzanine.  Well now they have moved everything downstairs!

Man, would I ever love to see a concert here.  What a cool space! I searched through their Christmas section which held at least 150 albums but did not find my holy grail. I did however find one of the Tom Jones records I've been chasing for a while, and better yet the UK version! A solid score for only $9 in almost mint condition.

I headed back into the main room and glanced at the country section and quickly found something else I've long wanted, Dwight Yoakam's debut. Very happy with both.

They also had new business cards and now have Square with my much beloved Apple Pay.  The fella behind the counter wasn't sure how to get it running but he called one of his colleagues and he got it fixed.  Even with new business cards and a new sign, those paper bags have not changed.  Still the best I've seen and so hard to throw away.  I complimented them and they told me that they stamp them by hand.What a fun visit and a great celebratory dig after my tough day of work in GR.

US-1 is the Maine Line

I've visited New Hampshire before and did a good job working through Manchester and also some of Portsmouth.  I found myself back in Portsmouth but I knew there was little to nothing left there so I turned my eyes north to Maine.  Unbelievably, I found an array of thrift stores on the main road out of Portsmouth and across the border, which also led me to a promising sounding lunch spot.  My work was on a Saturday/Sunday and it was as brutal or worse than I had thought it might be.  The customer had given me the option to finish up Monday morning so I booked my flight home for later in the afternoon.  But I knew if I could get done Sunday, I could have Monday off and spend the whole day thrifting.  It was a hellish pace most times, but we did it - Monday was mine!  We headed out a little after 10am.

I jotted down some notes on when the various spots opened.  I didn't want to eat lunch too far before about 1130am.  I knew we had about an hour back to Manchester to fly home so I also had to account for that.

My initial plan was to head way out to the end of the line and work our way back south after lunch.  But leaving at 10am, we were way too early for that.  I found another spot not on the screenshot above (Full Circle) which was not on the main drag and just barely out of the way.  So I opted to check them out first.


It had snowed early that morning and I saw it as soon as I woke up - it hadn't even snowed in Chicago yet.before I left.  I had horrific visions of some kind of crazy snowbound roads this far north but it was no big deal.  Besides, I reckon four decades in Chicago with half of them behind the wheel has prepared me for just about anything.  

We got to Full Circle and there were no tire tracks in the lot, just virgin snow.  We parked and got inside, and I was immediately stricken by the cold.  I've survived a few months of a winter just a couple years ago with no heat and I know that feeling.  I found the lone worker coming out of the bathroom with her winter coat and hat on.  I asked for the records and she pointed me to the 'book room'.  Just a couple lonely LPs and a few junk 45s.  So back into the snow we went.


After that we headed to Fabulous Find as I tried to concoct some kind of route that made logical sense, eventually leading me to a seafood laden lunch.  I couldn't come up with much so we hit FF as it was closest.  They didn't have any records but they told me they usually do and the price list backed up that claim.  I bought an Engelbert CD strictly to listen to for the next couple hours before I abandoned it in the rental car.  It is a compilation but could also be considered a reissue of side B of his worst album, these are re-recordings of all his best hits and they are also all in the MyTouchTunes jukebox system so be careful if you pump a fiver into one of those after you've had a few.  The funny part? The rental car didn't even have a CD player.


Now we headed all the way back to the New Hampshire border to check out Fair Tide and try to kill some more time before lunch.  Finally I hit a nice stash, at least in terms of quantity.

Found six whopping piles at least 10" thick each of various vinyl.  As usual they were placed on the floor forcing me to contort my body as I crawled around to check out each one.  As I've said before, nice to see a Jimmy Sturr album so close to home.  

What is it about thrift stores in the area having huge piles of junk like this? They also had a wild landfill of books inside the front door which I searched thinking vinyl might be mingled in (none was).


At this point it was still too early for lunch so we camped out at Out of Storage for about 40 minutes waiting for them to open.  But noon came and no one arrived.  I called the number on Google Maps - no answer.  Found a different one on Facebook, no dice there either.  So finally I decided we would eat lunch and hit it again on the way back.

Lunch at Bob's Crab Shack down the road was amazing and we did stop at OOS again afterwards.  The CLOSED sign was still intact and in my frustration I got out and started peering in the windows.  What do you know - someone emerged from the shadows inside and let us in!  She said she wasn't open (despite her publicly posted hours) because she had 'stuff to do' or something like that.  Still I was nothing but smiles as I inquired about the vinyl and was led to a tiny cluttered back room.  The two boxes were covered with books which fell everywhere when she tried to unearth the platters for me.  Then they were revealed!

Nothing of note besides the Carly album which I already have.  But at least I took advantage of the opportunity to have my picture taken which I never do as I am usually alone in these journeys.  My colleague did me a big solid there.

And alas that makes state number twenty-one!  I will be back early in 2017 for a junket and will make sure to hit Vermont or Massachusetts on that run!

Monday, November 14, 2016

the space between

the space between
records and their receptacles
the travelers often depart

the bin sees all
bold and proud
always watching

but off in the distance
on the horizon
orphaned vinyl long to make their way back home

'pots & pans'
herb & mantovani
piled high
waiting for the phone to ring

back at the batcave
safe and secure
sandwiched between laminated particle board
all sides close in, squeezing
engelbert reigns supreme
at goodwill addison

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Eyes on Iowa

Had to take a brutal 8 hour drive to the Kansas City area.  I already have Kansas and Missouri checked off the list but determined (even though it may have been slightly longer) I could take I-80 straight west to Des Moines, where it becomes I-35 and took me right to my destination.  So I essentially took a single road all the way there!

First up was the 'award winning' Encore Thrift Store in Urbandale Iowa.  I did call in advance to assure they had vinyl as my day in the van was already going to be long enough and I didn't want to spend too long messing around.  Well when I saw their credentials on the door I knew I had come to the right place!

The bad news was there was absolutely nothing of interest here.  The good news is that the record bin was in a corner and set up wonderfully like a shrine to bad records!

After that I had a quick bite at the Bennigan's just down the road then took Meredith Drive west back towards 80.  But not before stopping at the extremely well placed Goodwill, also in Urbandale.

Nothing to report here either besides the fact that they did not have their standard white 'Goodwill Record Bin', just a bunch of junky crates stored on the bottom shelf with some other junky goods.  And not suprisingly, junky records abound!

So Iowa makes state #20 to check off the list!  I essentially have every state considered to be part of the 'midwest' done.  I have a strip back to New Hampshire scheduled for early December and I'll be so close to the border I have already done my research so I can make time to head into Maine and take care of #21.

Buffalo City Mission Thrift Store [Depew NY]

If there was ever a better example of 'no rest for the wicked', it was that I got called to go to Buffalo while I was on vacation in Orlando.  I rushed back having booked my trip before I even got home and made my way back out east for 'fall guy' type of political situation which was high pressure (in retrospect).

I embarked on a long walk for food and booze (what else is new) and of course a thrift store when one is on the way.  New York is still not on board with Uber (learned this in Albany long ago) and expected it this time.  Tried the 'Curb' app and got the same old cabbie BA.  So I hoofed a few miles to get things done.

I purposefully denied myself the right to call and find out if this place had vinyl, because if they hadn't, I'd just about be out of options.  Luckily, they have a bevy of the stuff.  And I just kept finding more.  I think that when I go into a place like this, I am relieved just to find any records at all.  So as soon as I spot them from a distance, I zero in and get to work.  There was another rack not 5' away and I did not initially notice it.  And then yet another...and another!

The only vinyl of even minimum interest, none of which I purchased:
Something New Just For You and an Eddie Wojcik/Joe Jarosz collab (not in db), both on Chicago Polkas, always nice to see these far outside of Chicago or the midwest

Never heard of Morris Treat but this promotional-liquor country album was too hard to ignore

A slightly rare Engelbert album you don't see everyday

A weird disco platter that I retain some light non-buyer's remorse over for having left behind.

Love to see an old Jimmy Sturr record in his home state.

And old Bert Buhrman....I grabbed this a long time ago, if this had been the stereo version it would have joined me on the flight back to Chicago.

I already had New York checked off the list so no new additions here, still holding at 19 states down....