Monday, March 9, 2015

The Last Bargain Hunt: Marion

Spring forward they say.  It must be springtime, Wally World raised their soup prices back up to 1.88 again.
David Ray asked me to forward the link to the My City Was Gone, and so I archived it and republished it out in the open so that folks can see it again.  It has never gone away, it's been tacked somewhere in the back catalog of Record World, which ratings have once again dipped under 100 and in danger of going under 2,000 views for the whole month.  Not that it really matters much, I usually cram the whole news in the Week In Review and then add to it as we go along.   The usual passings still come and go, Lew Soloff one of the horns in Blood Sweat And Tears passed away, he also always had a high pitched sound to his solo, most notably on Spinning Wheel or the trademark end to Hi De Ho. But he also worked into jazz with his own band too.

In our ongoing series called The Last Bargain Hunt I write another blog that gets 20 views per say if I'm lucky about the places I go to in search of bargains and adding more to the hoarder house. Originally a concept that I thought about writing a Kindle book and get as much sales as I do as my band's CDs, has been demoted to a when I feel like it saga about the trying to find music in an age that record stores are dying, Best Buy's continual shrinkage of their CD selection (they have shorten it again as we speak) and trying to find the ultimate single or album or CD.  But at this stage of the game the vinyl revival has come back even making it even more difficult to find anything worth noting.  Despite the odds, I still find them.  So let's cue up some of that Nelson Riddle nifty early 1960s background happy music to start this off.

To compare Marion today from yesterday, feel free to cue up the My City Is Gone Archives but today's Marion is a far cry from the town I used to know.  Read the My City Is Gone first, basically the thoughts are no different than they are and I rather not repeat myself......

The cold winter skies have given away to a more seasonal but still below normal temps as Daylight Savings Time takes hold and we get an extra hour of daylight while losing a hour of tossing and turning.  Marion today is a town full of antique malls, thrift stores and usual franchise food places located on a crowded seventh avenue to which the stop lights are not in sync, and when they finally change you have a traffic jam at rush hour.  They have big plans for downtown Marion to turn it more into a art type of town, and bringing the old Memorial Hall out of mothballs for hipster bands to jam there when summer comes around.  If you're into pizza, there's about 10 of them in a mile radius, the locals like Zoey's Pizza, I enjoy Naso's more and if you want Corporate, Papa Johns, Pizza Hut and Dominoes are there too, so is Tomaso's, which lies on the burial ground of old town Marion now long gone, just like the trains that used to rumble through thirty years ago.

I'm basically biding time before deciding to return to Madison, but that town seems to be in a uproar just like going to St Louis and the Ferguson fiasco.  Another story of a police officer killing of a unarmed black 19 year old who was bopping into traffic and being a nuisance, to which the police followed him back to his apartment and it became a he said they said thing.  I may have ran into this dude a few years ago, as I came across a skateboard black dude weaving in and out of traffic and he fell off the skateboard right in front of me.  And lived to tell about it.  Usually this is the time of year that I haven't been up to Madison (last time there: July 2014)  and wasn't impressed with the findings. With Presidential hopeful Scott Walker turning the great state into yet another Right To Work For Less State I been thinking to go there less and less anymore and just been hanging close to home.  Which is basically Marion Iowa.  Marion like Cedar Rapids doesn't have a record store to call their own anymore, 20 years before we had at least 8 to go to.  However Marion does have about 10 antique stores and malls to chose from and it seems like a trendy thing but records are being found up in these places as well.  Considering that I decided to see what I could find.

Antique Malls are basically a hoarder house with things for sale and at inflated prices.  You can basically find just about anything associated with your past childhood there.  I usually like the one up where the old Balster's Furniture Store is at, it's like revisiting your past but in a different setting.  The old gas station crap that was around the places I used to work at, Marion 76 or The Costal mart (Derby) or Apco, are there.  An old price sign that you can get gas for 18 cents a gallon is there, even vintage oil cans full of motor oil can be brought for 10 dollars a can.  Old beer cans, beer bottles, unrusted cone tops are there for a price.  But I'm there for the records.

And most of the records are overpriced.  Located in a part of a two doors down store lies a box full of sleeveless 45s for 4 dollars a single.  The problem is that a lot of these records have been played to death, got scratches deeper than the pot holes outside 7th Avenue, some need to be cleaned up.  I have no problems paying 4 dollars for a 45 if it looks to be in great shape, I do have problems with they don't have a sleeve.  The nadir of bargain hunting is that 45s are not always found, there are collectors out there that will snap them up without question, buying in bulk, taking the pick of the litter and donating the rest away.  Back when they were still making 45s there was this anticipating of finding DJ promo copies of great songs that wouldn't get played along with the vintage stuff as well.  Even a good jukebox copy would spur interest.  But not in this day and age.  We have 3 major labels and the stuff they put out is garbage.  So I hope for the best and find something unique.   And so, the crate digger digs deep for something of value.

There were some 45s that I took note but not enough to invest 4 dollars into, so I moved on to the five dollar albums.  A lotta junk, a lotta mold, most of the records were scratched up, I saw a Tom and Jerry Surf guitar album I would have picked up, but had too many scratches, and I don't need references copies taking up space at home.  One place, had a couple boxes of interesting stuff, I could have completed most of Chad And Jeremy LPs but the majority have seen better days.  Located in a five dollar box was Tin Huey's 1978 Warner Brothers album still sealed.  I had a warped DJ promo of I'm A Believer and the CD a while ago but sold both of them, but thought the record was worth picking up again. At least that would buy a pack a cigarettes for the kind woman up there.

The Antique Mall where the Boston Store used to be, had the better selection of music including the mentioned five dollar mold and scratch albums but there was another section that had better albums and some comedy albums from Sam Kinison and Andrew Dice Clay, although thinking paying 15 dollars for them wasn't cost effective.  Somebody had some old Sport Cars In Stereo LPs for 18 dollars, they do command high prices when in better shape but again if I'm going to get something for 18 dollars it better be in pristine shape.  I can do only so much Nostalgia.  Some of the interesting things they had was The Archies's Greatest Hits and a band called Snafu (featuring Micky Moody later of Whitesnake fame) that made an album for Capitol in the 70s and others.  But I can also tell who ever had the albums marked different prices on these.  And for all intent purposes, they had some knowledge of how to price them.  Which perhaps made me think that maybe I should have kept most of my collection before I traded some of that for that Led Zeppelin box set that came out in the early 90s that I haven't played much from.  I got caught in that new fad called CD collecting too.

Growing up in the 60s and 70s, that the big albums from The Beatles, Zeppelin, Stones etc command even more money from the consumer but I draw the line of seeing a chewed up Apple Lp of the Beatles White Album selling for 50 dollars or G shaped albums for 18 dollars or more.  If they threw in a new needle to replace yours after playing the scratched up album I might consider but I tend to be more picky than picking up every mold encrusted copy of Sgt. Pepper's and getting sick all over again.   It's fun digging the crates and forming opinions about the life span of a record and forgotten group, but the sad fact is that at these Malls, the record inventory hardly changes.  The same old overpriced record are still there, the mold and dusty ones are still there and you don't get a lot a new arrivals.  And your are stuck listening to THE FOX or KDAT or god forbid, KISS Country and I can't handle Corporate Radio so I don't stay too long.   So I'm looking at going to Marion as a once every three months thing.  I have better luck seeing what Goodwill or Salvation Army has for new stuff.

The upstairs at the old Balster's has a cheap consignment record store, their name escapes me but it seems they have a slightly better newer selection of music, mostly jazz and soul.  Their albums are 2 dollars, with the exception of a few others, and I ended up finding Joe Tex's Rub Down (his 1978 Epic album) and the 1969 Peanut Butter Conspiracy LP on Challenge that had a cover that the lady cashier took one look and laughed like crazy.  That one sold for 4 dollars although the original price had I found it at the local Venture in the late 60s I could have gotten and one more album for 77 cents.  The price of inflation.  In the downstairs area they had some premium priced albums selling for me, and still up there is a Epic cut out of The Yardbirds Little Games album.  Nice if I really needed it but I still have the import at home, with more and better songs rather than the anemic choice that Epic used for song selection.  I think they wanted 15 or 18 for that. 

While it was nice doing the antique mall tour of Marion, I don't forsee it to be a major happening.  Not enough turnover to warrant more than once every three months.  The self serve record store upstairs the old Balster's will probably be the only place I return to.  The success ratio from Antiques stores to thrift is about the same, buyer beware of course.  But I do get feel a bit nostalgic when i go up there, be it to see old scratchy 45s, rusty beer cans, former keepsakes turned into dust collectors and even old vintage motor oil cans or old gas station signs.  But not enough for me to pony up big bucks for mold encrusted albums or vintage oil or beer cans.  I'm sure you wouldn't want to drink old beer cans or put old oil in your car.  The memories are good enough for me.  

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