Where Have All The CDs Gone?

I’m probably really late to the party on this one, but I was recently thinking about the availability of used CDs and came to a realization.  My insight is certainly nothing earth-shattering, it’s just that used CDs are approaching a value of zero.  As such, they can’t be sold for anything of value.

Here’s my brief, one-sided view of the used CD marketplace.  When CDs first came out, I was there.  They were expensive and there was no used CD market at all.  Expensive was $18 back then, which is like selling a CD for $39 today.  Then, before a used CD market blossomed, there was the “bargain bin” at the local CD store.  You could get CDs for as little as a dollar.  “Cutouts” were included in these, where the CD case was notched or drilled to identify it as discounted.  Then, some stores started selling used CDs, but the real place to go for deals was pawn shops.  Pawns shops would have walls of CDs, most always unsorted, which was a real PIA, but really rewarding when you found something you liked.

Now, pawn shops can’t make any money on CDs (and DVDs are quickly approaching that critical mass as well).  What’s the next step after a pawn shop?  A thrift store.  People can’t even sell their CDs, so they just give them away.  That’s where I’ve been having better fortune – at thrift stores.  Yes, I am lucky to have a local used CD store with three locations around me, and their values are usually really good.  But I’ll tell you, if I owned those CD stores, I’d be making regular rounds of thrift shops and picking up well-known albums for super-cheap and selling them in my store.

The one other place you might have some luck is at flea markets.  Sometimes, it’s just some person selling off their personal collection, along with all their other household junk.  Sometimes, it’s a budding business that can’t afford a retail space.  The downside of flea market shops is that there is a very low turnover and new product comes in very infrequently.  So usually, you hit them once and you can be done at that place for a year or so.

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