How to sell collectibles online: Vinyl records
You know that relative who, in every music chat, starts reminiscing about the "good old days of vinyl"? We've all got one. They're right, though, vinyl is something to cherish. There's something special about getting your hands on a full-size record, as opposed to spending 79p on a digital download or simply clicking 'play' on Spotify.
It's perhaps for this reason that vinyl sales are booming in the UK right now - around two million records were sold in 2015, up 50 per cent on the previous year to meet a 20-year high. Believe it or not, some these big wax discs are worth a fair bit of money. Just last year someone bought the first pressing of the Beatles' self-titled record, (more commonly known as the 'White Album') for more than £500,000.
While you'd be extremely lucky to stumble across something like that, selling rare records can be a fruitful business. There are, however, a few things you need to consider if the venture is to be a success.
Is it the right one?
As any collector will know, there will likely be numerous different pressings of any given classic record and some are more valuable than others. You'll have the first pressing, as well as all of the reissues that follow, for example; and there might be regional versions with different track listings.
There may even be mistakes printed on one batch, making the affected copies even rarer. One early Beatles promo single credited a Mr Paul McArtney (as opposed to the correct McCartney), but only 250 were sent to radio stations and reviewers before distributors noticed the mistake. One of these sold for more than £13,000 in 2012.
So it pays to know what you're looking for and, when it comes to it, what you're looking at. The internet is your best friend here, so start building some knowledge.
Condition is crucial
Anyone who values rare records - or any other collectible for that matter - will care about condition. You might have one of the scarcest albums in existence but if it's covered in scratches the value will plummet.
The sleeve is just as important here; it might be made of just cardboard, but there scuffs and tears should always be minimal. This is why most stores and collectors still keep valuable records in plastic covers as well as the original sleeves.
Most buyers and sellers go by the Goldmine Standard, which puts records into eight categories: Mint (M), Near Mint (NM), Very Good Plus (VG+), Very good (VG), Good Plus (G+), Good (G), Fair (F) and Poor (P). You can find a great explanation of the ratings
Postage and packaging
The next step is to make sure your records stay in same condition whilst in transit. You may be selling to someone 20 miles away, or a collector on the other side of the world - either way, you should be taking every packaging precaution.
Fortunately, many companies make mailing sleeves specifically for vinyl records. This means they're sized perfectly, so you're not required to do all that much. It is, however, worth making sure you opt for particularly thick cardboard - some of the cheaper (usually white ones) can be pretty useless.
If you're sending something particularly valuable, it's a good idea to take out insurance as well, just to cover any damage that may be cause accidentally during the item's trip to its destination. The last thing you want is to have to refund the buyer and take back a record you might struggle to sell again.
Got all that? Now you're ready to start selling records online!
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