Who are the record sellers behind the Discogs accounts? We’re finding out in our Crate Minds series, highlighting a new Discogs Seller each week. This week, record seller Lewisdene talks about his journey from pirate radio host in London to stocking more than 100,000 records for sale at his Houston, Texas home.
What’s your name and role?
Lewis Dene, owner, crate digger, audiophile and tea maker.
Where does your Discogs username, lewisdene, come from?
I’ve been in the music industry since the late ‘80s. In three decades I’ve done everything from DJ, to produce and remix, work in radio, write for numerous magazines, run several labels, compile hundreds of compilations, and in recent years, sell records. In 1987 I presented a couple of radio shows on a London-based “pirate radio” station named LWR. Being illegal, I didn’t want to use my own name (Dene Lewis), so I used the highly creative flip-it method and became Lewis Dene; my adolescent brain figuring it would be harder for the authorities to track me down, plus I also thought by switching my name around to Lewis sounded far cooler for radio!
When did you start selling records on Discogs?
2008, so I’m now officially a decade in.
How did you get into selling records?
I moved to the US in 2006 and it was the first time my collection was in one place after 30-years of collecting. I was amazed how many duplicate copies I had, so it was initially it just to thin out multiples but it proved to be a nice additional revenue stream… and in the subsequent years as the music industry changed in the digital age and revenue streams came to an end, selling vinyl remained a constant. Ten years on I’ve never been so busy, and hope the trend continues.
Do you have a physical record shop, or do you sell online only? Where are you based?
I’m based in Houston, Texas but don’t have a physical store front, just a 100,000+ records at home and a very understanding wife!
What is your specialty?
The bulk of the records are 12-inch vinyl, with an emphasis on soul, funk, hip-hop, disco and boogie from the ‘90s. In the last few years I’ve also specialized in the rare and hard-to-find side of the twelve-inch market.
What’s your favorite record you have in stock right now, and why this one?
That would be Master Force – “Hey Girl / Don’t Fight The Feeling” on Rain Forest. It’s a super rare boogie cut from 1979 and producer/singer Greg Henderson (responsible for “Dreamin” – one of my all time favs as well). I’ve been on the search for this for many years, and to add the cherry to the sundae, the sleeve is also autographed.
What was the most memorable item you ever sold?
One of the most lucrative finds I made was Queen’s “News of the World” LP in its press kit promotional version. Think I paid $5 for it in the thrift store in Houston and sold it the next day for $450. Wish all my finds were that profitable.
What does your own record collection look like?
I cherry pick and keep the twelves I’m really passionate about – the core is early ’80s US disco-boogie mainly from labels like Prelude, Salsoul, West End, Becket, Emergency and Profile. Early hip-hop is always on my turntable along with classic soul and funk jams.
What is your personal holy grail record?
One of my all-time favorite singles is the New Jersey Connection’s “Love Don’t Come Easy” from 1981. There was a multi-colored vinyl pressing issued in extremely limited quantities (and whilst I’m sure the quality isn’t as good as the regular black wax, I’d still love to see a copy in the flesh… also I’m not sure if it exists, but a test pressing of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” album would be pretty special too!
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you when selling records?
It always amuses me when you sell a record back to the artist who recorded it! I had that a while back with an original member of Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes who bought several copies of his own recordings.
What is your number one tip for record buyers on Discogs?
Check the seller’s shipping rates before you hit the purchase button. Not all shippers have the same prices and international shipping costs can be high, so know what your total cost will be and avoid canceling or stalling paying because of it. Oh, and always pay the full asking price!
And for sellers?
Hard to narrow it down to one thing, but first and foremost would being accurate with your grading. I know it’s objective, but really one seller’s VG+ should not be another’s NM, and another’s VG. If in doubt (and Discogs’ grading guide is very clear on how to categorize something), under-grade rather then over-grade an item. Better for buyers to be pleasantly surprised and raving with positive feedback than asking for a refund, discount, or leaving negative feedback as you made something out to be better then it actually was. You will get repeat business if you’re fair and honest; if you screw up, own your mistake and offer a solution with options to making it right.