In our Crate Minds series, we put the spotlight on the people behind the Discogs accounts. Whether running a brick-and-mortar shop, selling from a storage space or from their living room, there is one thing all sellers have in common: An incredible passion for music. We spoke with Discogs record seller Andy Gray of AndyGrayRecords to hear his story!
What’s your name and role?
My name is Andy and I do everything! My typical working day is from about 10am till 1 or 2 am, I look after an elderly relative in between subbing/listing releases. I’m also the cook of the house, my girlfriend is the breadwinner, so I get the evening meal ready for her coming home and we have a couple of hours in front of the TV in the evening before I go back to Discogs! My Discogs username AndyGrayRecords is based on my real name and the fact I like records.
When did you start selling records on Discogs?
Since I rejoined in October 2011.
How did you get into selling records?
I’ve always sold them, right from pre-internet times. Used to swap them in school. And then when I grew up I used to advertise in Record Collector and then once the internet started I used Gemm, Amazon and Ebay. At the time there was no Discogs marketplace but I used Discogs as a resource. Then I had a few years off. I was actually doing volunteer work in an Oxfam shop and they had to close due to persistent burglary and rising insurance premiums – so for a small donation I took away their whole stock of vinyl. So I went straight to Discogs as I felt like I owed you something back.
Do you have a physical record shop, or do you sell online only? Where are you based?
No, I’m just online. I have a website although at the moment it just points to Discogs. I’m based in East Anglia. Lowestoft to be precise, which is the most easterly town in England. I’m just a mile from the coast.
What is your specialty?
I’m not sure! I would probably say 7″ records – I have a constant stock of over 4,000 no matter how many I sell, I always have more to list. I try and add images and runout info to them all, and over the years have built up a good knowledge of pressing plants and mastering engineers.
What would you say is your favorite record in stock right now, and why this one?
Current favourite record is by a band called City of Thieves. I have followed them since their early days when they were called Four Wheel Drive. I know two of the band members, Ben and Jamie, who also run Teambeats: they do corporate team bonding whereby they get a bunch of people with no/little musical experience and they give them an instrument. They then teach them parts of a song and within a few hours they have them able to play the song.
And what was the most memorable item you ever sold?
Probably Avalon – “Going Thru / Gypsy Secrets”. It’s not the most expensive record, but I only paid 10p for it so it represents the best value!
Can you tell us what your own record collection looks like?
I have a couple hundred LPs and a handful of singles. I had about 500 or so in my early twenties. When I left home I just had a room in a shared house, so my collection mostly stayed at my mum’s house. And then when I got married I still didn’t really have room for anymore than about 50 records. Then my mum downsized and moved and I had nowhere for my records (this was pre-internet days) so I just gave them to a friend. I wish I still had them now!
Do you have a personal holy grail record?
I don’t really have one, but I wouldn’t say no to a copy of Keith Cross & Peter Ross – “Bored Civilians”.
And your favorite Record Shop?
Sound It Out in Stockton: Great staff and they kept the flag flying when all other shops were closing.
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you when selling records?
In the UK there used to be a chain of shops called Andy’s Records…the owner was also called Andy Gray – he now runs the BGO label – so anyway he has bought records off me two or three times, he actually lives in the same county as me. He started off by selling ex-jukebox records on a market stall in the 1960s.
What would be your number one tip for buyers on Discogs?
I have several… I think the main one is to read the feedback, the seller terms and the item description. Secondly I think if you find a good seller you should stick with them, they may not always have what you want but I’m sure they’ll always have something for you and lastly don’t be afraid to buy a VG record.
And for Discogs record sellers?
Be honest. Grade as though you were the buyer. Ask yourself if you’d be happy with that grade if you had bought it if the answer is no then go down a grade. Check label images and runouts, make sure you list the exact pressing!
Anything else you’d like us to know?
I’m registered as self-employed with the taxman – my sole income comes from selling records and it mostly gets reinvested in more records. When I buy a job lot of records I have found that only 30-40% are already on Discogs, there’s so much out there that needs cataloguing!