Digging the Back Bins: How to Get the Most from a Record Store Visit

February 07, 2021

Digging the Back Bins: How to Get the Most from a Record Store Visit

Deep Cut started out of our love for records (read more on that here), but when it comes to acquiring records, everybody shops differently.  Some of us just love digging crates.  They can flip through LPs for hours making sure that they didn't miss a stray Zappa hiding in the Bananarama section.  If that's you, more power to you. You are going to find some great stuff.

Cactus Records in Bozeman, MT

Cactus Records in Bozeman, MT

If you are like me, though, you'd be lucky to get through ABBA before your mind went numb.  You need a way to break the store down into manageable chunks.  Here is what I do.

Make a beeline for 'New Arrivals': Most stores have a 'new arrivals' section.  Some will split it between new and used.  Some just have used.  This is where record store staffs hope to sell through some inventory without actually having to file it in the stacks. 

Why new arrivals? 

1: It's manageable.  Most stores have between two and six crates, which you can easily examine in 10 to 15 minutes. 

2: It's a grab bag.  You can find A Tribe Called Quest next to Bruce Springsteen next to Johnny Cash (well, more likely MC Hammer next to Loverboy next to Kenny Rodgers, but you get the picture). 

3: It's a renewable resource: the new arrivals section will usually turn over in a week or two, so you'll never tap out your local record store. 

Lean on Allmusic: There is a lot of bad music out there.  I want to hear new stuff as much as the next guy, but I don't have the time, money, or shelf space to bring home a bunch of junk every week.  So I make heavy use of Allmusic.com when I'm going through crates.  If you aren't familiar, they used to put out phone-book-size compendiums of biographies and reviews of just about every artist and album that was ever put out.  Now they have all of those listings online.   So when I come across an album that looks interesting, I check it out on Allmusic.  I skim the artist bio. If the band formed after in the parking lot of a Phish concert, I move on.  If I see a four star rating or better for the album, I pick it up. (Allmusic is pretty generous in their ratings.  Three star records can be pretty mediocre). 

I have found a lot of my favorite records this way.  I didn't know who Stanley Turrentine was until I found a copy of Blue Hour in the new arrivals bin.  Ditto Electric Flag.  I had heard of Sade, but didn't know how great an album Promise was.  Same with DC's Go-Go king Chuck Brown

It isn't just unfamiliar acts you will find in the new arrivals bin either.  My copy of Sticky Fingers came from new arrivals.  I got The Weeknd's Starboy  $10 instead of $35.   Guadalcanal Diary.  The Jackson 5.  There are all kinds of treasures in New Arrivals. And if you need a quick price reference, Discogs is good for a general reference. Just don’t go showing your findings to the person behind the counter. They don’t love that.

Flipping through records


So when you are looking for a plan of attack, look no further than those bins in the front of the store. Lean on tools like Allmusic and Discogs for basic is this any good? and am I getting ripped off? intelligence. And be open to new stuff and having your mind blown - that’s half the fun.

How do you attack the record store? What tools do you lean on? Leave it in the comments.


Want more stuff like this as well as promotions and offers on Deep Cut handmade home goods? Sign up for our emails:

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Blog: Deep Cuts

20 Album Covers Perfect For Displaying On The Wall
20 Album Covers Perfect For Displaying On The Wall

January 24, 2024

When it comes to displaying on your wall, some record artwork really stands out. Here are 20 of our favorites. Side note, it wouldn't be on this list if we didn't also love the music. So just consider that a given.

View full article →

Gift guide for the vinyl person in your life with a photo featuring a Deep Cut tabletop record stand
Our 2023 Vinyl Lovers Gift Guide

November 30, 2023

We want you to crush this holiday. We want each of your gift recipients to shed a single tear that catches the glint of candle light just as a light snow begins to fall on the handbell choir that has gathered to serenade the class of orphans that has come to the town square to pick out a kitten from an miracle litter at the humane society. And we want them to say ‘This [sob] is what Christmas means to me.” And if the gifts in your own stocking would earn the side-eye from the Goodwill donations rep, we’d like you to have some ideas for yourself as well.

View full article →

The Right System for Your Vinyl: Mixing & Matching Modern and Vintage
The Right System for Your Vinyl: Mixing & Matching Modern and Vintage

August 24, 2023

Modern? Vintage? Both? What's the answer?? Well, the hybrid system just might be the best. It allows you to mix and match components until you find ones that are just right. Solid components can last the rest of your life (and longer). Flexibility on provenance can enable you to find deals. Ultimately, you can end up with a system that fits you like your favorite pair of jeans. But how? And with which of what?

View full article →