There was an interesting story that ran in the Wall Street Journal last week about Japanese record buyers who scour the U.S. for 99 cent bin finds that they can sell for far more than that in Japan. From “Japanese Collectors Face a Record Shortage of Obscure Music”:
In this game, a well-stocked Rolodex means getting first dibs on records instead of rifling through crates once they’ve been picked over. Osamu Ueno, an independent record buyer, says he moonlights for a Japanese buyer as its eyes and ears in San Francisco—for a 10% finder’s fee. Mr. Ueno wouldn’t give details, fearing prices of mentioned CDs would rise, but he offered this: “When you find these CD titles, they’re usually in the clearance sections for 99 cents.”
Much of what the Japanese want goes for higher prices. Collectible artists in Japan include female pop singers like Patti Page, whose “(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window” was a 1950s hit, and 1980s teen idol Debbie Gibson. A “Doggie” record-single goes for $5 in the U.S. and $30 in Japan, while Ms. Gibson’s LPs can fetch $200 on eBay. The Japanese “like sugary sweet pop,” collector Alec Palao says.
But some things, like privately pressed novelty records, are “rare for a reason,” says Mr. Vague, the Long Beach dealer. “No one wanted them in the first place.”
$200 for a Debbie Gibson album? I wonder how much someone could get for the cassettes? And by someone, I mean me, if, in fact, I can find my copies of Out of the Blue and Electric Youth on cassette.