spinning vinyl record close-up

An Interview with Professional Record Seller, Appraiser, and Collector Alan Williams

Alan Williams (Alwills) has seen his fair share of elusive records over his almost 50 years of collecting and nearly as many years as a professional music memorabilia appraiser. Everything from local Essex punk obscurities to rare Amy Winehouse acetates were graded and priced under his sharp judgment. He’s a true fan of music memorabilia of all stripes — even his bathroom walls are covered by signed photographs of the likes of Bjork, Joe Strummer, and his personal favorite, The Ramones.

Acting as BBC Essex’s weekly “vinyl valuer” on Vintage Vinyl, an appraiser for Prestige Pawn Brokers, and the occasional BBC 6 and Classic Rock magazine guest, Williams has a reputation for expert grading, which has proven him well over his 11 years of selling on the Discogs Marketplace. He was kind enough to answer a few of our questions.

Discogs: What is the most valuable item you’ve ever sold?

Alan Williams: £11,700 Sex Pistols’ God Save The Queen A&M with A&M promo box.

D: How do you manage your inventory on Discogs?

AW: A mixture of [Microsoft] Access database and Discogs listing themselves.

alan williams alwills vinyl collection

A selection of Alan’s collection. | Courtesy of Alan Williams

D: What values do you try to stick to when it comes to running your store?

AW: I’m a collector and a dealer, so I put myself in both “buyer” and “seller” mode when it comes to descriptions, grading, and customer service.

D: What sets you apart from other sellers on Discogs?

AW: Almost 50 years as a collector, 41 years as a dealer, 36 of those professionally. Many media appearances, currently on BBC Essex and BBC 6 Music as well as Channel 4’s Posh Pawn TV show.

D: What’s the biggest challenge of selling online vs. in person? How did you overcome it?

AW: The biggest challenge is avoiding returns and scammers. I work hard to give a full honest description backed with 36 years of professional dealing. “Gut feeling” is the best way to avoid scammers!

D: Which Discogs feature helps you the most as a seller?

AW: The comprehensive, unique listings for each release.

D: What would be your No. 1 tip for new sellers?

AW: Be honest with your descriptions and always act with integrity.

alan williams alwills autograph collection

Part of Alan’s bathroom wall of music memorabilia with signatures of Siouxsie Sioux, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, Debbie Harry, The White Stripes, and the aforementioned Bjork, Joe Strummer and The Ramones. | Courtesy of Alan Williams

D: In the age of downloads and streaming, why do you think people still buy physical music?

AW: You can’t put a download on a shelf or under a Christmas tree.

D: What’s something you wish you’d known before you got started as a music seller?

AW: How enjoyable it is! Why did I wait until I was 23 to turn professional? Should have started from school.

D: You sell all around the world on Discogs. What is your most memorable Discogs order?

AW: Selling to Edwin Pouncy, a.k.a. Savage Pencil. I poured over his every word when he was a journalist on Sounds music paper during the late ‘70s, early ‘80s.

D: What are your current music recommendations? Give us 5!

D: Where’s your favorite place in the world to dig?

AW: People’s houses! I get up to 10 calls per week. :)

D: What’s the next record to be crossed off your Wantlist?

Our Crate Minds series showcases some of the best sellers on Discogs. Here, you’ll meet the people behind the crates (virtual and otherwise) and get insight into the life of a record seller on Discogs, how they got here, and tips on selling records from the best in the biz. Feature image by Jack Hamilton.

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