How many records have you seen in one place? You probably have quite a few in your collection. Your local record store probably has hundreds. The biggest shops around the world house thousands at a time.
But what about millions?
Records by Mail boasts a massive inventory in the Discogs Marketplace and an even larger warehouse in Portland, Oregon. It’s easily one of the biggest collections in the United States. Strolling through their stacks is like floating through a vinyl dream. We caught up with the Records by Mail team to check out the space and learn more about Records by Mail’s relaunch following a brief hiatus to reorganize their inventory.
Discogs: Tell us about the history of Records by Mail.
Records by Mail: Records by Mail was founded by Craig Moerer in 1974. (For anyone doing the math, it must be said that Craig was still in his teens at the time.) While among the oldest of the old-school record crowd, RBM has always prided itself on adapting to the times, whether that’s changing tastes in music or the early move to the web. With the help of a talented staff, the good will and generosity of some of our peers, and a dollop of luck, we’ve been able to grow the business to the point where we have an 8,000-square-foot warehouse [in Portland, Oregon] and some 2 million-3 million LPs and 45s.
Founder Craig Moerer (left) and general manager Tim Zagelow (right).
Discogs: Records by Mail recently made some big updates to its inventory and business processes. What made you feel like the time was right? What changed and why?
Records by Mail: Our database was damaged in late November 2020. While we already were in the process of rebuilding our website, this event forced an accelerated timeline on us. The website is still a couple months away, but we’re back on the major platforms and have been making substantive changes to every aspect of our business. We’ve focused on streamlining all work, audited a large share of our inventory — all within the framework of the best security practices and robust backup protocol.
Discogs: What are some of the most interesting things Records by Mail had on its shelves?
Records by Mail: We’ve bought some amazing collections and inventories over the years: two of the best rock collections ever assembled in America, the personal library of a Brazilian culture critic, massive soul stocks from the UK, a reggae/ska collection from the premier discographer in the field. The list goes on and on.
Discogs: What is the most valuable item you’ve ever sold?
Records by Mail: Probably a sealed first-state butcher cover for $11,000. Sadly, we paid $15,000 for it! Advice to other Sellers: If you’re not a Beatles specialist, consider staying in your lane!
Discogs: What is your number one tip for Buyers and Sellers on Discogs?
Records by Mail: Hmmm. Well, the last year has been a trial for everyone. The postal services worldwide have seen some deterioration, and I’m pleased by how patient most of the collecting world has been. If I had one piece of advice, I suppose it is that Buyers and Sellers should give each other the benefit of the doubt and never presume the worst.
Photos by Nicole Raney.