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A Guide to the Giant Record Fair in Chicago This Weekend

This Saturday is a big day for vinyl addicts—here’s how to make the most of Chicago Independent Radio Project’s event.

There’s nothing like vinyl.   Photo: Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune

This Saturday, the Chicago Independent Radio Project—CHIRP—hosts a vinyl addict’s dream: The annual CHIRP record fair.

Seasoned collectors and newbies alike flock to the Chicago Journeyman Plumber’s Hall (1340 W. Washington Blvd.) to sift through tables upon tables of dusty gems from established shops such as Saki, indie record labels, and estate sale collections. If you’re looking to expand your Neil Young collection, or try new, experimental bands—like the buzzing country crooner Ryley Walker—look no further.

Since the fair can be a bit overwhelming for newbies, here are a few tips for navigating the tables like a pro.

  1. Contrary to the film High Fidelity, most serious collectors are happy to chat and share their knowledge. They are resources who have a wealth of information, don’t be afraid to bug them with questions. 
  2. The advertised price is not always the actual price, especially if it’s a common title among tables. It never hurts to make an offer—especially if you’re buying a stack of LPs at once.
  3. If the price seems high (or a steal) use your smartphone to find out. Vinyl marketplace sites such as Discogs are a great resource for finding out what people are actually paying for an LP, depending on its grade (that’s the rating of it’s condition).
  4. Unsure of the condition of an LP? Look for a listening station with headphones set up so you can suss out the crackles and pops.
  5. Not happy with the condition of the paper sleeve inside the jacket? Some vendors carry new, gleaming white sleeves with them. Want a plastic sleeve? Ask if they’re available for sale, or if the vendor will throw one in.

The CHIRP Record Fair runs 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Saturday April 12. Admission is $7 or $5 with a record fair flier or advertisement. Early admission to the fair is offered from 8 a.m.–10 a.m. for $25.

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