To me, nothing is more fun than going through tons of used records/cds looking for one or two of the best finds. A countdown of my favorite places to score music at great prices:
5 garage/estate sales
Gar(b)age sales are very spotty, but once in a great while I find some old person who is selling their whole record collection for next to nothing because, presumably, no one wants it. False: I do. A great way to pick up cassettes as well.
I think it's safe to say that most of the best places to get used music are not music stores. Sure, plenty music stores have areas of used tunes, but the chance that I'll find something other people missed for a price I can't pass up is much lower in places like the Exclusive Company than, Whoa, Goodwill. I think that the Fond du Lac one is a better priced store. Stores in bigger cities usually have bigger collections but tend to be more expensive. You'll find a fair split between classical records and lps like led zeppelin's 4 and cassettes like To The Extreme.
3 cd replay (appleton)
CD Replay is a chain of used media stores. The prices are good (6-7 ish for most albums). No records or cassettes here, but it's probably for the better. There's an okay one in Madison (last time I was in there I found Turn On the Bright Lights for $2), a better one in Milwaukee, but the best one is in Appleton, pretty close to the mall. This stores is HUUGE and I have spent hours and hours slowly moving down the racks looking for good finds. I've bought a lot of cds there. Some that stick out: Cross, Friends of Mine, Lateralus, Graduation, and a lot more you wouldn't be impressed by. Used CD buying is not glamorous. It's about catching up on what you didn't want to pay full price for.
2 madcity music exchange
This great madison store houses mostly used vinyl. Though there's a relatively gigantic supply of old legitimate records, my favorite is the wall of unsorted $1 records. There's a lot of junk in there but the collection is so big that it's easy to find ten you want, and once you buy ten or more lps from this selection, they drop to 50 cents in price. Killer.
1 half price books (madison)
I first visited Half Price Books an afraid and vulnerable freshman wary of the bus system, waiting for a friend to come pick me up after being 'stranded' by the mall. Because of its location (not very close, but not very far) I think I visit it just enough that each time I find numerous great finds for incredible prices. Though they have a lot of fairly priced 'good' cds, they have two carts of $1-3 cds that tend to house some fine gems, and I only care about those carts. Well, the carts, and their fair selection of used vinyl. A while ago, I bought Beck's Midnite Vultures (an incredible album) for $2 here. That was probably my champion purchase from half price books until last Thursday, when I picked up a score that prompted this blog with its greatness:
godspeed you! black emporer - f#a#[infinity] $1
sigur ros - svefn-g-englar single $2
the unicorns - who will cut our hair when we're gone? $2
these were topped off by a depeche mode and an art paul schlosser 45 (50 cents). I already have (and love) f#a#[infinity] but had to buy it again. one dollar?
There's gold in them there hills, and I encourage you to dig for it.