Sound Records shop interview

An Interview with Tom Berry of England’s Sound Records

Based on High Street in Stroud, England, Sound Records has been selling records to the five valleys of Gloucestershire since 2018 (and worldwide even longer on Discogs since 2015). During the United Kingdom’s second lockdown, Sound Records teamed up with local Stroud-based publication Good on Paper for a series of recorded sets highlighting local DJs.

We checked in with Tom Berry, who runs Sound Records with his partner in business, Sean Roe, to discuss digging around the world and building relationships with customers online.

Discogs: What is the most valuable item you’ve ever sold?

D: How do you manage your inventory on Discogs?

Tom Berry: We only list higher-value records.

D: What values do you stick to when it comes to running your store?

TB: Try to be as honest as possible about the records you are selling.

D: What sets you apart from other Sellers on Discogs?

TB: We try to sell records beyond the norm. We sell many records from Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia. We have a particular affinity with the records of Japan. Sean [Roe] spent a few years there and regularly goes back to pick up stock. Japanese pressings tend to be really nice and condition is generally good. We also dig in the United States and Europe to ensure we find records that are harder to find in the UK.

Sound Records shop

Photo courtesy of Tom Berry

D: What’s the biggest challenge of selling online vs. in person? How did you overcome it?

TB: Selling online is less personal than selling in person, but we try to build a rapport with customers online. We like to engage our customers in conversation — signposting them to other records we think they will like or encouraging them to visit our physical store if they are in the area.

D: Which Discogs feature helps you the most as a Seller?

TB: Looking at the median [price] for each record helps us with our pricing.

D: What would be your No. 1 tip for new Discogs Sellers?

TB: Undergrade your records. There’s nothing worse than an unhappy customer! Essentially, if you have any doubt between two grades, always plump for the lower! It’s much better to declare something a strong [Very Good] than a weak [Very Good Plus], that way the Buyer is pleasantly surprised when they receive their goods rather than disappointed.

D: In the age of downloads and streaming, why do you think people still buy physical music?

TB: The simple fact persists — music sounds better on vinyl.

D: What’s something you wish you’d known before you got started as a music seller?

TB: Condition is everything!

D: You sell all around the world on Discogs. What is your most memorable Discogs order?

TB: Sending a box set of Wagner’s The Ring to Chile!

D: What are your current music recommendations?

D: Where’s your favorite place in the world to dig?

TB: Japan. Disk Union was a definite highlight. I’ve never seen so many great records in such a small space (except maybe Ameoba in [California]). We also really enjoyed Kyoto as there are at least 20 stores there worthy of a visit.

D: What’s the next record to be crossed off your own Wantlist?

Our Crate Minds series showcases some of the best Sellers on Discogs. You’ll meet the people behind the crates (virtual and otherwise), get some insights into the life of a record seller, and learn tips on selling records from the best in the biz. Feature image courtesy of Sound Records.

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