News and Observations from a Music Nerd

The Legend of “The Label Maker”

There's a local second-hand media store in Logan, Utah called Fun Unlimited. It's the only store of its kind and scale in the area. Video games (including consoles and accessories), DVDs, books, comic books, vinyl, CDs, cassettes, and more. They're not super picky about what they let people trade in. It's kind of a mess. And it's great.

Since I have started collecting music on physical media again, I've been there several times and looked through their vinyl, cassette, and CD sections. I have brought home lots of gems. But I never looked through their huge section of 7” records. Not until a couple weeks ago.

I had only one 45 in my collection – it came with the long-awaited vinyl release of the “That Thing You Do!” Original Motion Picture Soundtrack I picked up at the end of last year (one of the real gems of my collection so far). I thought I would only ever be interested in collecting LPs, but something in the back of my mind kept nagging at me, telling me I ought to check out that 7” vinyl section in Fun Unlimited. So I decided a couple Saturdays ago it was time.

Not long after I started digging I noticed a couple things:

  1. Most of them were in pretty rough shape, even for 45s/7”.
  2. The vast majority of them were singles by country artists. I'm pretty sure they have one of the largest collections of Ronnie Millsap 45s in the world.

But a pattern started to emerge. Every so often I'd come across a 45 that someone had custom labeled with a number using an old-school label maker.

And as I took a closer look at these labeled 45s, they always stood out because they were:

  1. In pristine condition. They needed cleaning like everything else in the store, but I could tell they had been well cared for and loved by their previous owner.
  2. Well-curated. Mostly rock from the late 70s to early 80s. The artists and songs I recognized by name were great. When I looked up the ones I didn't recognize on Apple Music or YouTube, I either recognized the song or could tell the song was a good one.

After a little while, I decided that whenever I came across one of these custom-labeled 45s, I should just pick them out and set them aside. They were almost guaranteed to be worth taking home.

It took me 5 hours to carefully look through the entire selection, but when I was done, I had a stack of over 100 7” records that I wanted to take home. Almost all 45s except for a couple 7” 33s. And most of them with custom labels on them.

But most of them didn't have price tags, and most of those that did have price tags were at least $1.99. As much as I wanted to take all of them home, I couldn't drop over $200 on them. So I went through the stack and pulled out the ones that I absolutely knew I wanted to go home with, regardless of price. It was about half of the original stack.

I took that up to the counter and told the rep that I had another stack about that size that I would love to take home, that I noticed most of the ones that had prices on them were $1.99, and could he give me a discount if I went and grabbed that other stack.

He thought about that for a while. I told him no pressure – if that's not something they usually do, I'd be happy to just take the first stack. But I just thought I'd ask and see if they could give me a deal. He told me if I grabbed the other stack, he'd sell everything to me for $1 apiece! I happily went and grabbed the other stack and went home with over 100 45s! Oh, and a Best of Isaac Hayes LP...had to grab that one.

As I was cleaning, play testing, and cataloging all the 45s in Discogs, another detail I noticed about those from the “Label Maker” series is that they are all Canadian releases. I'd love to know the story of how this collection made its way from Canada to a second-hand media store in Logan, Utah.

I have already played several of these “Label Maker” Series 45s on my show and, without fail, they have been thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed by my fellow music nerds.

Sadly, I didn't get every piece of the Label Maker Collection – I'm sure it had been well picked over by the time I got to it. But the ones I was able to take home are all gems. And I'll always wonder which ones are missing.

Whoever you are, Label Maker, I thank you. Thank you for your love of good music. Thank you for putting together an amazing collection of 45s. And, whether you're still with us or have moved on to the next phase of existence, however all or part of your collection made its way to my town, I hope you'd be pleased that these records are no longer sitting in a cluttered, neglected corner of a second-hand media store, but have gone to a good home and will be shared and enjoyed with others for years to come.


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