I am a record vendor, and I will agree that there is a wide range in the quality of records at the shows. I see no problem with that as long as they're priced according to their condition. Not everyone wants or needs a pristine Near Mint copy.
On the other hand, there are those unique, rare items that command a higher price, which brings me to your complaint that you couldn't sell your records for their true value. I shouldn't need to tell you that a dealer can't pay you book price for your records.
What source did you use in determining that your records are worth over $150? You say they are Mint, but that is not a realistic grade for any record that has been opened or played. Even sealed records usually have some cover flaws if they have any age on them. A Mint record is VERY rare.
The Goldmine pricing guides are considered the standard, and the price is based on a condition of Near Mint. This would be a record that looks as if it was just opened. Very Good + is the next step down. This is a record that looks Near Mint except for a few minor flaws; maybe some very light scuffing or a very light scratch that does not affect play. These are generally considered to be worth half the Near Mint value. Prices for lesser records take a nose-dive from there.
The other thing to consider are the different versions of a record. You may have a record that looks just like the one that the book says is worth $100, but is really only worth $10. The price guides can't cover all the many variables. It gets really crazy when you try to price Beatles records. There are over 400 different versions of Sgt. Peppers alone! A website called Discogs is a good source of info on the different versions of a record with ballpark pricing.
I make sure the stuff I take to the shows is at least Very Good. Most of my records are pretty mainstream stuff, and the vast majority of them are priced at $3 or $4.
Why were you there?
I go to about 6-8 shows per year (two different circuits) and always enjoy and get amused by the experience. IMO, there are three types of attendees..
1. Newbies getting into vinyl buying just about every cheap copy of classic rock albums they can find. Most use Crosleys and its a hipster thing.
2. Collectors who could care less about sound quality and who most likely will never listen to it. But its rare and collectable. And these same types will demo records they are interested in on the vendors Fisher Price or Kenner Close and Play that the vendor happened to bring before they lay down hundreds of dollars. BTW, ever see the preponderance of junk TT’s at these shows demoing records?
3. Then there is me. The audiophile listener who is looking for the best sounding, most pristine copy of a title I really enjoy. I once made a deal for $25 on a mint Japanese 12" 45 rpm pressing of a title I really like. After the deal was done the vendor then offered to play it on his Fisher Price. I told him if he does that, he is not getting my $25.00. He bagged it and I went home with my one purchase. It is now one of my two best sounding reference recordings.
Since you mentioned a lot of junk, I suspect you may be number three. If so, get to know the vendors that routinely do these shows. They will bring and hide the good stuff they find for you - Japanese pressings, sealed albums, 1/2 Speed Masters, etc. If you just buy one at a show and its a keeper, then its a success.
Paraneer- you've captured it, I think. The attendees are pretty colorful. I've never gone to a comic book convention or a hacker get together, but I'll bet the vibe/character of attendees is similar. I've met some pretty interesting people in the process of buying records, more often by phone, email and Internet than shows, but I've scored occasionally at shows.
(I think the real high value gems - that meet both #2 and #3 of your list typically wind up on the Internet; like wine, the stuff that fetches a price is often auctioned).
I recently came to the conclusion that if one is more focused on the cleanliness of their records than on their personal hygiene, they are truly obsessed. Thank goodness the new social standards permit wearing pajamas as streetwear. I'm not being critical; I've actually adopted the style myself.
There is a 4th type. These are the guys who are looking for records to listen to, but aren't too particular about what condition that Pantera record is in. They suck my fitty-cent bin dry!
At my last show in Cleveland, there was a guy making the rounds looking for Enoch Light and His Orchestra! Uhhhhhhh.....yeah.......right over here with my Ferrante & Teicher! Another guy wanted Al Martino. Funny thing is, I had a couple at the house. Haven't a clue where they came from!
TZ- I hear you on buying blind. But, the most you can do is visually inspect the record, unless you want it play tested on a Fisher Price! I try to have a dialogue with Internet sellers- it not only establishes their bona fides, but gives me a sense of how much they know, and how critical they are. I’ve gotten records that were very conservatively graded at VG+ that really are minty and some allegedly mint/unplayed which had off center spindle holes, scuffs from handling, etc.
I’m not going to bother returning a ’bin cheapy’ that I buy for 6 or 8 bucks and get by media mail from a seller in the States. But, I’d say my ’success rate’ for good players is probably in the neighborhood of 80% of what I buy. Some vendors, like EIL, sell absolutely impeccable product (unless they have noted otherwise in their description), but at a price. Others- well, I’ll tap into a vein- someone selling off a collection and I may find several juicy morsels from them before that well runs dry. Shipping costs between countries are now getting too high for ’average’ records- I wanted a Queen UK press of News of the World, a pretty common record in the UK- postage was more than the cost of the record.
Pre-Internet, I used to carry dog-eared lists with me on virtually all my travels, business and pleasure.
The one thing I’ve found to be true for shows and bin diving- sticking strictly to your "list" will often blind you to some really good records that are probably worth purchasing. But, that requires effort. And, I’m lazy- I just want to go in, see the booth marked-- "here’s the stuff you want", buy it and get out of there. I have friends that can spend days at these shows pouring over crates. Those are the guys who score at shows. (Oh, have you ever been to a record show with decent food?)
Well, The Keystone Record Collector’s Pennsylvania Music Expo claims to be "the largest monthly show of its kind." I don’t know about that, but there IS a lot of stuff there. Typical stuff, LPs, CDs, 45s, even DVDs. Mostly the typical genres, old Rock, old Pop, but at least some of almost anything else, least of all classical. Their website has quite a bit of useful info if you look around, especially their "Unwanted Records" page.
Like any business, the vendors at the record shows concentrate on the stuff that sells the most. Rock, blues and pop are the mainstays, along with a little jazz.
As for the audiophile stuff, Whart has a point about vendors preferring internet sales. I do bring some of the more esoteric stuff to the sales at times, but my heart is weak, and it nearly stops when I see the way people manhandle them.
Why didn't I think of that? I have a little stack of MOFI's and other gems that I've been wanting to take to the shows.
That would also help with another issue that crops up every once in awhile, and that's theft. There are just too many opportunities for that sort of thing. Naturally, the high-priced stuff is what they want to grab.
I'm funny that way- if it is a pricey record, I ask the vendor to handle it. I don't want to make a stupid mistake with an item that is not mine--not that it happens often (now I'll jinx myself)- but that would suck! I was sort of the same about test driving high end cars- I'd ask the dealer/seller to drive it- I'd ride shotgun, and if, overall, I liked it, and it passed a PPI (often older cars at the time I bought them) , I would then drive it before the check was cut.