Top: Everyday Music in Portland.
Oregon’s affinity for recycling extends further than putting tin cans and scrap paper on the curb once a week. Storeowners throughout the state who offer customers the option of selling their books, CDs or clothes for cash or in-store credit are noticing that the recession has caused the buyback culture to increase dramatically.
“In the last two years, we have seen an increase of people coming to us for extra money,” says Jessica Pelley, the media coordinator for Crossroads Trading Company, a used-clothing store in southeast Portland.
“There’s definitely been more people selling CDs and vinyl, just to help pay the bills,” says Terry Currier, the owner of Portland’s Music Millennium.
Offering only cash, Music Millennium pays between $1 and $10 for a CD, depending on what it is and the quality. The number of customers selling CDs, Currier says, has doubled in the last three years.
Evon White, the owner of Smith Family Books in Eugene, says customers seeking cash for books have increased by 20%. “It’s one source of end-of-the-month cash,” she says. Books sales also have increased.
Powell’s Books in Portland offers cash or 20% more in in-store credit. John Guetschow, director of used books, was expecting a rush of people selling books for cash as the recession began in full force in September 2008. He was surprised to find there was a major increase in customers seeking in-store credit. Guetschow thinks the recession has affected book budgets. “They have to sell books to get books,” Guetschow says. The number of customers taking in-store credit has increased by 20 to 30 people per day.
That isn’t the case in Salem. Beth Kinman has turned away customers from her bookstore Book Habit because she only offers trade. “They’re trying to get money to survive on rather than to get more books.”
Doug Peabody, the owner of Open Book in Bend, says demand increased in the last year by as much as 25%. “I had to get incredibly more selective because I couldn’t afford to keep shelling out cash,” he says.
The increase in people selling their possessions isn’t just about money. White says there is a group of customers purging their book collections partly in reaction to the recession and people’s sudden dislike for credit cards, overspending and materialism. “[They] want fewer belongings as part of their lifestyle,” she says. “Rather than accumulating or collecting, they feel more comfortable with reading it and then moving it out of the house.”