We at Discogs are very excited to partner with legendary online vinyl retail operation Records By Mail for their second ever pop-up shop event on June 16th, 2018. For those in Portland, OR, stop by The Wayback for a very rare opportunity to view and purchase from Records By Mail in person. The agenda for the day: over 6,000 LPs & 45s available for viewing and purchase, DJs spinning all day, and adult beverages for those 21+!
In anticipation of this sure-to-be-awesome pop-up, we spoke with the founder of Records By Mail, Craig Moerer.
Can you give us an introduction to yourself and your role?
Hi, I’m Craig Moerer. I began Records By Mail in 1974 and continue to own and operate it to the present day – overseeing an 8,000 square foot warehouse, a skilled staff of 11, and shipping 200+ orders a day to record enthusiasts worldwide.
How did you get into the business of dealing records?
In junior high, I played guitar in an extremely lame garage band. I later became interested in pre-war acoustic Blues. In Great Falls, Montana, in the pre-internet era, it took some effort to pursue esoteric interests, but once I discovered UK Blues magazines with their “free auction lists” classifieds, I fell down the record world rabbit hole. In 1973, I moved to Portland and eventually landed a job at a local record store. They paid me a commission-based salary on my ability to price “collectible” records higher than they would otherwise sell them. By living frugally (my hitchhike period), I managed to save $1,000 over the course of a year. In the summer of 1974, I set off with my younger brother on the first of what would become many record buying trips. With our modest haul, I started Records By Mail – initially a catalog business.
Can you tell us a bit more about Records By Mail and its history?
Since that first trip, we’ve been frequently fortunate in being at the right place at the right time. Add some enthusiasm for risk and the kindness and trust extended to us by collectors and dealers – all this has contributed in getting us to where we are today. There have been many bigger deals over the decades…US and UK dealer inventories and large publishing libraries and private collections. Having continuously run a successful record-selling operation for over forty years, I think we’ve contributed a few innovations and blazed some trails along the way.
RBM famously has the aforementioned 8,000 square foot warehouse for inventory and operations here in Portland. How large would you estimate your overall inventory to be?
We’ve been in our current Northwest Portland warehouse since 2010. I’ve historically said our stock is 2 million, but it’s likely somewhere between 3 and 4 million pieces. Our previous location was at Clinton and 25th in Southeast Portland.
Do you allow walk-ins or for people to dig through the inventory on their own?
Our inventory is organized in such a way that browsing is nearly impossible. That said, we do welcome visitors and are happy to provide a tour and photo ops of the warehouse. There is always a select group of records in the office to browse and investigate. For the best experience, it’s recommended that you email David Haffner at email@example.com ahead of time to set up an appointment. If you’d like to pick up a record order in person, we’re happy to accommodate.
What is the largest collection you’ve purchased?
Probably the “leftovers” from the San Fernando Valley dealer, DisContinued Records, some twenty-plus years ago. There were three tractor trailer loads, and while we were certainly burdened with Parakeet training records, we also harvested a shocking number of what are now considered grails.
What is the most remote or weirdest place you’ve gone for a collection?
I’m sure that over the years you or a team member have found themselves in a somewhat sketchy or uncomfortable situation when looking at a collection. Any particular memories that stand out?
Sketchy and uncomfortable is all relative, however my team and I have certainly had our share of crazy experiences. I don’t have to go too far back in time – only last year – to remember a “challenging” dig. We traveled to a rural location to buy the personal collection of a former store owner and his back stock. Little did we know that we’d be contending with chickens, geese, sheep and goats, along with 20 years of dust, spiders, and overgrown vegetation surrounding the three buildings that housed the records. Equipped with gloves, boots, & headlamps, we excavated 30,000 records for our hard effort!
What can people expect to find at the Pop-Up?
We’ll bring monster trophies, as well as a full spectrum of value priced titles. We want everyone to feel rewarded for their effort in coming to see us at our first-ever local event.
What does your personal record collection look like?
I gave up my personal collection when I got serious about this business decades ago. The few records I own are there strictly for sentimental reasons. Everything’s for sale…I enjoy putting the best records in the hands of vinyl cognoscenti the world over!
Can you remember the first record you ever purchased? What was it and where did you buy it?
Between the Buttons by The Rolling Stones, purchased from a Great Falls, Montana department store. I’m guessing it was a Mono pressing, as Stereo issues would have cost a dollar more!
Anything else you’d like us to know?
Just that I really appreciate the numerous people who have purchased records, my staff, and all who have assisted RBM over the years. I’m lucky to have found a career where music, passion, or mania meet. My enthusiasm has never waned. We are excited to be partnering up with Discogs and Tanner Goods for this sale and looking forward to spreading happiness one record at a time in my own backyard!
Discogs Presents: Records By Mail Pop-Up At The Wayback takes place on June 16th, 2018. From noon till 6 PM, over 6,000 LPs & 45s will be for sale, as well as DJs spinning all day, and drinks for adults will be available at the bar. Don’t miss this rare chance to dig through RBM’s wares in person!