Crate Digging: Electronic Finds Off the Beaten Path

Alex Calhoun —  September 24, 2013 — Leave a comment

188726 108791389203751 7125757 nThere is no question that I love to ingest my House and Techno in the form of vinyl records. I am not a DJ, but a record collector and crate digger in the purest sense. As record stores have become an increasingly rare place in a digital world, seeking out new places to find records has become an interesting endeavor. Yeah, I can buy records online, or hit up one of the vinyl shops in Detroit that still serve the Techno community, but I like to venture off the beaten path at times, and find my records in the more out of the way places.

There are many great crate diggers and vinyl aficionados who have come before me and even traversed the globe looking for the rarest of rare records. I have crossed paths with such individuals in my adventures. The biggest difference I have noticed is most of the people going out of their way to look for vinyl gems are looking for older rock records, Northern Soul, funk, indie and other non-electronic genre’s. I focus on techno, house, electro, disco, and oddball electronica, and by keeping this focus, I have made some astounding finds.

One place that I hold dear in my heart is Salvation Army stores. You can always find records somewhere in their mounds of donated items. Almost always, there is a huge stack of Christmas albums, classical, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, and polka in terrible condition. However, if you take the time to really dig through the crap, you might find something worthwhile. At one Salvation Army, I found an entire collection of House records that had been donated from a local high school radio station, including some tracks by 808 State, Raze, and Danny Tenaglia. At another store, I picked up some freeform synth albums from Morton Subotnik, and a couple random post-Disco, early house records, and double LP of Scan 7 remixes.

Another generally overlooked goldmine for records are garage sales and flea-markets. My significant other scored a really housey remix of a hip-hop track by Whodini mixed with a bunch of rock records at a garage sale. Almost half of my collections of disco and early house records were garnered from a vendor at a flea market. I have been digging this mountain of records for 4 years, and have barely scratched the surface; I’m sure I will be dead before I recover all of the house gems that lay hidden in this Eldorado of vinyl. I even found my copy of the old house jam “First True Love Affair” by Jimmy Ross at a garage sale a few blocks from my apartment.


If you love vinyl, it pays to think outside of the box. I can only cover so much ground as a solo crate digger. It’s crazy to think what kind of awesome Techno tracks might be hidden in a box of records that’s being donated to a thrift store right now. If you’re a vinyl collector, do yourself a favor; take one day, and try digging through some dusty crates in some out of the way place; you might be pleasantly surprised.

Alex Calhoun


Alex Calhoun is a writer, vinyl collector, and lover of all things odd and electronic. He currently lives in the Detroit Metro area.
September 2013
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