I live in Brooklyn, which is probably one of the old school vinyl picking capitals of the USA at this point.
I've just recently started to get into this, and on nice Saturday afternoons I like to make a slow crawl from my apartment to the Brooklyn Flea
in Fort Greene, sometimes stopping at stoop sales and less formal selling-stuff-on-the-street situations if I see crates of LPs.
There are quite a few different booths selling records at the Flea: used vinyl dealers, pop culture ephemera folks, and junk booths which might have a crate of vinyl. After hitting a few different booths, patterns will start to emerge. I'll see the same few random albums over and over, or the complete oeuvre of a group I've never heard of. The more booths I visit, the more I notice it. What's even weirder, is that if I stop at a stoop sale nearby that has a lot of vinyl, often they'll have the same groups and albums as the booths in the Flea.
While I do see a few usual suspects from week to week which I can tell were popular albums back in the day (ahem, Saturday Night Fever
soundtrack), these trends I'm noticing don't really account for that. It's weird stuff, and in huge quantities.
Where does this stuff come from? How do secondhand record dealers* and junk shop owners get used records? How do they choose what to sell at any given event? The approach to sought-after classic albums is easy to grok, of course. I'm talking about putting out 20 copies of this one obscure Ian Dury record. How do all the dealers end up with the same inventory, despite the diversity of business models? Is there one guy with a warehouse full of this stuff out in Queens somewhere? Is there some kind of shadowy mafia controlling all the flea market booths in the city? Is there a strategy to this?
*Another weird angle is that I haven't noticed record shops doing this at all; there are patterns there, but they're different patterns.