Crate Minds: Selling Records on Discogs With Mrformic
In this week’s Crate Minds, meet Discogs sellers Katja and Gregor, who have been selling records on Discogs under the name ‘mrformic’, for 13 years. How did they get into record selling, what are their favorite records, and how did wannabe DJs end up in their cheapo bins?
What’s your name and role?
We are Katja and Gregor, a married couple. We run the business together.
Where does your Discogs username, mrformic, come from?
Formicula is Latin for ant. It all started with a Techno project in 1990 called Formicula 4. In 1994 I (Gregor) opened my first physical shop in Cologne, Germany called Formic Records. A label with the same name came up, followed by a wholesale company called Formic Distribution.
When did you start selling records on Discogs?
We joined on January 29, 2004.
How did you get into selling records?
I was a DJ since mid 80s. Checking out record shops was my greatest pleasure. Sometimes I found cool records in the cheapo bins which I owned already. They needed a new home. Especially US imports, which were hard to find back then and pretty expensive in Germany. So every time I found a cool Electro 12”, or Chicago House, Detroit Techno, legendary Krautrock album for little money, I bought it. Soon I had a crate full of doubles, so I started selling those at record fairs, Oldiemarkt auction mag, and since the end of the 80s I have placed ads in local music mags. I sent out lists, people ordered. I never had problems finding cheap records to sell with nice profit.
Do you have a physical record shop, or do you sell online only? Where are you based?
We don’t have a physical shop anymore. The last one closed in 2006. We have a small Ebay shop (Like 300 items) and a tiny online shop. Our main channel is Discogs. We are based in Bergisch Gladbach, close to Cologne, Germany.
What is your store’s specialty?
It was Electro, old and new school. Chicago House, Detroit Techno… cool stuff for DJs. Today, we buy everything that will make profit, even if it is Schlager or Country. On Discogs, you have customers for all genres, so there is no need for a specialization anymore. Since 2 or 3 years ago, we started focusing on new New Wave, Darkwave and likewise.
What is your favorite record you have in stock right now, and why this one?
We have new favorite records every few hours. We love music, and we love to discover new stuff.
What was the most memorable item you ever sold?
Maybe this Vertigo Swirl album we found in a flea market in Italy 2013. We paid 5 Euros. Selling the album paid for our whole vacation.
What does your own record collection look like?
Like a dream come true. I go mad for 7”s since a few years ago. 60s Beat, Krautrock, Cool Jazz and Bop, but also new releases from New Wave, Electro, Techno… It’s incredible what you can do with 7”s. And they are not so heavy…I don’t want to carry 12” crates anymore, I’ve had enough. I also have a huge collection Jazz LPs. Plus the best few thousand from my DJ career. Pretty much a complete collection of Chicago House from the very beginning, same for classic Detroit Techno, Electro. Lots of Gipsy Jazz, and all kinds of exotic Folk.
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you when selling records?
There is a lot to laugh about when you have a physical shop in a big city. When I meet my ex-employees today, we still laugh about the good old stories. Drugged out wannabe DJs singing Techno tracks is always funny. One DJ crashed into our cheapo bins, which were outside next to the entrance, with his car. He didn’t even notice. Came in, said “Hi” and wanted to check new releases. “Guys, I need stuff with mental sequences”.
What is your number one tip for buyers on Discogs?
You don’t buy from Discogs, you buy from someone. Everybody can be a seller on Discogs, there is no driving license. Always keep that in mind. Check sellers’ profiles and feedback before you buy. If you are not satisfied, don’t get rude and hectic. Keeping cool and being informative will get you to the point much better.
And for those selling records?
Use the description line to describe downgrades! Don’t try to hide anything, it will not work out. Use your profile page and seller settings. Stay friendly and informative, don’t lose your temper.
Anything else you’d like us to know?
Goldmine grading is outdated. It stems from pre-internet times when space in printed media was expensive. Discogs has become a league of its own. Let the community build a new and modern grading system which describes conditions in more detail. And yes, one more thing: Thank you.