So, if you don’t know me, I collected records in middle and high school… back in the 80s when dinosaurs roamed the earth. In fact, I recently got a new storage solution for my records and went through my core 80s collection for the first time in ages. I posted many of my favorites to my Instagram account – just scroll back a couple months.
Anyway, I got out of record collecting in the early 90s, when it seemed like CDs had conquered vinyl once and for all. And from 2008 until 2020, I’d buy a record every few years, be it an old favorite or colored vinyl,” just because”.
I really started buying vinyl again in 2022. I’ve ordered maybe a dozen LPs from Europe, and I’ve discovered something: European LP mailers suck. Like, almost all of them. So if you really want a record from Europe, it may be worth your time to see if anyone in the US has it. Not only will shipping be much cheaper from the US than the EU, we here in the US use proper packaging.
This is mailer for a record I ordered from Norway. The center of the mailer had a “tear here” strip, so that’s how I opened it. That part’s SUPPOSED to look bad. But the problem here is that while the cardboard is thick, it’s very soft. It feels like it was made with mostly recycled cardboard. In any case, you can see all the dents and bends the record suffered on the way here. The record arrived with a torn and dented outer sleeve. I emailed the label, who opened a new copy of the LP and mailed me that sleeve. They coulda avoided all that by just using better quality mailers.
Here’s another shot of the Norway mailer, at a slightly different angle, so you can see all the dents, and how thin it is on the side:
And this is the mailer a French company sent my copy of Alice et Moi’s new album, Photographie in. In this case, the cardboard itself is actually quite strong. But again, it’s so thin – thinner than an album sleeve – that it offered little protection, and the sleeve was again damaged in shipment:
I could email the label about the damaged sleeve, but I’ve just learned my lesson and will think long and hard before buying overseas again. Unless it’s Saint Etienne’s Christmas stuff. I’m helpless against their Christmas records.
And speaking of the UK, of the dozen overseas records I’ve ordered, Rough Trade was the only vendor who packaged their LPs well. And I know I only showed you two examples of bad packaging today. But it seems to a Europe-wide thing: I cross my fingers with every overseas order knowing it will be packaged horribly no matter if ordered from Scotland, France, Germany, The Netherlands or Belgium.
And hey… it’s easy to criticize. So tell us, oh wise one, what does a GOOD mailer look like? Well, this is what Polyvinyl Record Company uses here in the US:
That Alvvays LP was shipped between two pieces of thick, study NEW cardboard, surrounded by more thick, study NEW cardboard, and one more layer of thick, study NEW cardboard! You could STOMP on this thing and it wouldn’t hurt the record.
And here’s a mailer from Fat Possum Records out of Oxford, Mississippi. The packaging is similar to Polyvinyl’s and more than adequate for the task. But I just wanted to share their corporate motto, perhaps my all-time favorite: “We’re trying our best”