New weekly column: The Vinyl Collector: For Music, Not Money

Editor’s note: This week, we launch The Vinyl Collector column, which will appear each Thursday. Alex Mosier collects, buys, and sells vinyl records. He’s also collected a few stories and tips along the way.

For Music, Not Money

By Alex Mosier

It had been a couple months since my friends and I started building our modest vinyl collections.  A small brown box in the corner of my apartment quickly filled with used records I found by digging through stacks in the back rooms of thrift shops. My friends and I all had our Record Wish Lists, and naturally mine was a pain. I learned quickly that 1990s vinyl records are few and far between.

One afternoon, a group of us walked into a small music store in downtown Myrtle Beach.  The back of the shop was littered with crates only grouped by the first letter of the band.  We all spent the better part of two hours digging through the glossy sleeves. Sometimes we would hold an album up to see who found the most intense cover art or even the perfect example of ridiculousness that should have never been recorded.

As we gathered our little stacks, heading towards the register, I heard a friend of mine gently mutter my name.  When I turned around, he held a record out to me.  It was more than likely the office light turning on behind him, but a halo crept around the album nonetheless.  I took the album from him and finally saw what had taken him back.  In my hands I found a copy of Pearl Jam – Vs.

I was sold, there was no question whether I was going to purchase this album or not.  Still, out of curiosity, a friend of mine took out his phone and searched the code online.  To our astonishment, it was an originally pressing.  This album was selling for hundreds of dollars online.  Lucky for me, this shop owner had no idea what he had and only wanted $25 for it.  I jumped at the opportunity and purchased it on the spot.

Afterwards we went back to my apartment.  Gathered around a busted up record player with spliced together tweed speakers, we started embarking on a fresh, dusty musical journey.  Thematically, I decided to save the best for last and hold off on playing my new copy of Vs.  As I removed the record from its dust jacket, I made a shocking realization; the record was in its original factory seal. All my friends could comment on was that this record is a gold mine.  Going back online, this album in its original factory seal was easily selling for $500.

We delicately placed the album back in the dust jacket and went on with our day.  For weeks, whenever we listened to records, displayed the cover art or were just hanging out, that album got brought up.  My original pressing, still in the factory seal, with all of its glory; Pearl Jam’s Vs. beautifully haunted me.  All I wanted to do was listen to the golden baritone of Eddie Vedder explain “hearts and thoughts, they fade.” Still, the knowledge of how much the album was worth stopped me.

One night, I was in the living room watching the release of Pearl Jam Twenty.  Finally, I couldn’t resist anymore.  I went into my room and reluctantly tore the plastic off the album.  Listening to the record from start to finish, over and over again, it was one of the greatest musical experiences I have ever had.