Say goodbye to $1 vintage records: Thrift store chains are cashing in on vinyl resurgence

These are sad days for thrift store record bin divers in South Florida.

The region’s major thrift store chains are cashing in on the vinyl resurgence, leaving weekend collectors to pay more for used records through the chains’ online sites or find alternative marketplaces.

For years, Gulfstream Goodwill, a division of Goodwill Industries International serving Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Okeechobee and Indian River counties, carried used records. Not anymore.

Since March, records have been missing from the charity’s 25 thrift store locations. Instead, donations of records, books, CDs and DVDs are sent to an online distributor called

The new arrangement helps Gulfstream Goodwill focus on its mission of providing job opportunities and training to members of the disabled community, the chain says.

Staff member sorts records at Lauderhill record store.
We Got the Beats record store staff member Josh Fagerlund sorts records on Friday in Lauderhill. (John McCall/South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Meanwhile, stores operated by Goodwill South Florida in Broward and Miami-Dade counties recently doubled their prices from $1 to $2 for castoff titles featuring acts like Johnny Mathis, Mantovani, Perry Como and Eddie Arnold.

Records used to overflow from the shelves of the Salvation Army store on Broward Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. Asked about the recent absence of vinyl cq comment=”from shelves that overflowed with them not long ago” ], a clerk explained that donated records were being sold through the store’s auction site next door instead of being put out for retail shoppers.

Several weeks later, a small collection of records and CDs reappeared inside the store, but few were by recognizable artists.

Vinyl’s ups and downs

Bin diving in South Florida thrift stores wasn’t always such a fruitless endeavor.

Thrift stores carried unwanted vinyl records for decades after consumers began replacing them with compact discs (CDs) in the 1980s.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in spring 2020, many South Florida residents used the time to declutter their homes and deliver stacks of media to their neighborhood thrift shops, which promptly put them out for resale.

Collections of vinyl records featuring pop and rock acts from the 1960s onward were easy to find. Clean, scratch-free copies of acts like Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Yes, Moody Blues, Chicago, Eagles, Allman Brothers, Willie Nelson, Donna Summer, Steely Dan and Teena Marie were common, as well as bountiful piles of once-popular CDs, rendered obsolete to many consumers by streaming music apps.

Over the next two years, the renewed popularity of vinyl brought more record consumers into the stores. Deals became harder to find.

Store operators noticed and began diverting titles with familiar names to their online divisions, where they could fetch much more money.

In October 2022, Goodwill South Florida joined the nonprofit, an online “recommerce” site that sells items cherry-picked from local donations.

The site’s music section displays “bundles” of used records and CDs for prices far above $1, with a buyer-beware explanation that the items might be dirty or scratched. Not long ago, most of the offered titles could be found for $1 each inside Goodwill stores.

On Friday, the site offered a set of three records — two by Supertramp and one by Foreigner — for $24.99.

Used, well-worn copies of Elton John’s Caribou and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road — with the former owner’s name scrawled across the covers — were offered for $34.99.

Two Grand Funk Railroad records were on sale for $24.99. Used copies of Jimi Hendrix’s Smash Hits and Steely Dan’s Can’t Buy A Thrill were available for $19.99 each. That’s almost as much as those titles cost new.

And a set of 11 records that included two Captain and Tennille titles. a KC and the Sunshine Band offering, Neil Diamond’s Gold and Jonathan Livingston Seagull soundtrack, The 5th Dimension’s Love’s Lines and Rhymes, and Olivia Newton John’s If You Love Me, Let Me Know, could be yours for $44.55.

Music isn’t the only merchandise sold on the site. Vintage clothing, housewares, electronics, jewelry, toys and collectables are also offered for prices less than what they cost new, but more than what they cost in-store.

Goodwill South Florida officials could not be reached for comment.

Gulfstream Goodwill, to the north, has been diverting books to ThriftBooks for more than five years, according to a statement by the organization. “The funds generated through our partnership with ThriftBooks play a vital role in supporting our mission of providing essential support and services to individuals in need,” the statement quoted Gulfstream Goodwill president Keith Kennedy as saying.

For its part, ThriftBooks, a for-profit company, distributes books to underserved schools nationwide. Kennedy said. It is also working with Gulfstream Goodwill to stock a library at Goodwill’s Career Academy of the Palm Beaches charter school, he added.

In March, the partnership was expanded beyond just books, he said.

“In response to staffing shortages and increased transportation costs, we decided in March to partner with ThriftBooks to receive ALL media donations, including books, records, and DVDs, thereby removing them from our stores,” Kennedy said.

“This collaboration not only streamlines our operations but also enables us to prioritize the items that provide the most significant benefit to our organization and the communities we serve.”

South Florida buyers, meanwhile, will have to visit their neighborhood record stores if they want anything produced over the past 60 years.

At We Got the Beats on Oakland Park Boulevard, prices start at $3 for used vinyl records.

Sales associate Guy Mazza says customers aren’t complaining about a lack of choices at thrift stores. “I don’t ask them if they go to thrift stores, although I’m sure some of them do,” he said Friday. “Most people who come in here know what they’re looking for.”

Ron Hurtibise covers business and consumer issues for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. He can be reached by phone at 954-356-4071, on Twitter @ronhurtibise or by email at

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