I went to Stratford Upon Avon record fair today and it was pretty big, there were certainly a lot of stalls there. I wandered around for about 90 minutes, speaking to absolutely nobody as I did some crate digging and, sadly, finding nothing that I really wanted. The more I go to record fairs the less I seem to find and, to be honest, I’m enjoying it less and less.
The problem for me is that there are certain records that I’m looking for and, more often than not, I don’t find them and when I do thy are often more than I am prepared to pay. An example today was Alpha Centuri by Tangerine Dream, I nearly bought it but it was £20 and didn’t have a gatefold sleeve. I can go on to discogs right now and get a near mint gatefold copy for £10.99 plus shipping, so why buy the one at the record fair?
It’s also often quite annoying. The whole front of a stall was blocked by people and I waited patiently to get to the one crate I was interested in, then I waited less patiently and after 10 minutes I went to another stall, came back 10 minutes later and the same guy was still microscopically checking every album in the crate even though he didn’t seem to have any intention of buying them, he was on a rather odd mission it seemed. So I never looked in that crate and left wondering if it was the one that held a record that I might buy.
There was another stall that had a lot of records, all in yellowing plastic sleeves containing quite ordinary records that were listed as mint despite the ringwear and scuffed covers. Perhaps they were mint when he got them and he has been carting them around record fairs for decades.
I am less and less inclined to go to record fairs, which is a shame, but I think there’s a much better chance of finding something good in a used record shop than at a fair.