Talk about downsizing: this weekend, Bop Street Records reduced its vinyl inventory by one-third after unloading 140,000 records to St. Vincent de Paul Society of Seattle/King County. The Seattle Times and MyBallard are reporting that the donation was motivated by the record store's move last weekend into a much smaller space. Bop Street had long occupied a storefront on Ballard Avenue between the Tractor Tavern and Hattie's Hat but moved because the building was sold, according to the Times. Bop Street will re-open at 2220 NW Market Street--a mere 3,500 square feet compared to 9,500 at the previous location--the first week of July.
Photo from myballard.com Bop Street donated one-third of its inventory to fit into a new, smaller location.
While the donation is a boon for St. Vincent de Paul--selling the records will provide funds for the charity's programs, which help adults, seniors, homeless, and low income community members--it also raises questions about the potential value of those records. None of the coverage of this donation mentions the actual dollar value of the donation (and, true, record prices fluctuate based on how much fans are willing to pay for rare titles), although the Times jokes that "Creed and Hanson and Starship" were among the titles given away.
It's possible that Dave Voorhees, the owner of Bop Street, truly had too much low-value merchandise and nowhere to keep it in his new store. Voorhees told the Times that he has been collecting records since 1958 and been running a record store since 1984. Anyone who has been to the old Bop Street can tell you, it's no place for the uninitiated vinyl shopper: in both his store and its basement, Voorhees stocked wall-to-wall records, some of them hard-to-find titles and others simply older, kitschy finds.
Of course, many of those records won't fetch $70 a pop from customers, but is there really no profit in selling used records at $5 each? Are so few people buying used vinyl nowadays that there's no reason to keep back inventory? Or is Bop Street doing so well and selling so much that they can afford to let a big chunk of records go? On the other hand, could Bop Street have actually donated some high-dollar collector items that might bring a pretty penny to the charity? I can't help but think about Everyday Music's recent move on Capitol Hill and wondering if they ever considered donating--or thought they needed to donate--extra stock.
The best chance to see the quality of Bop Street's donated records will come in mid-July, when St. Vincent De Paul is planning a big sale to unload their newly-acquired collection.