Interior of record store ready for crate digging

13 Tips to Improve Your Crate Digging Etiquette

Crate Digging Etiquette
Show Courtesy When Crate Digging for Vinyl

Crate digging for vinyl is an intimate addiction. Perhaps it’s the hunt for that classic from your childhood or that rare musical gem to add to your growing collection.

Or the thrill of coming across an album you’ve never heard of, or the allure of the magical artwork.

Whatever your ‘poison,’ like any addiction, it will have exquisite highs, grinding lows, and will puzzle most other people.

Why We Dig for Gems… I Mean Records

The main reason we are called collectors is because most people prefer the convenience of digital music. This makes crate diggers a unique mix of human beings that make up our sub-culture.

Many have been collecting vinyl for decades while others are just staring out. Regardless of where you fit into this culture, it is safe to say that vinyl collectors can be obsessive about the art of crate digging.

But not all record fanatics are consciously aware of the etiquette required for those who take part in this habit.

So I’ve put this guide together. I hope this will help seasoned diggers and beginners alike to have great vinyl hunting days.

13 Ways to Improve Your Crate Digging Etiquette

  1. Pay it forward. Treat other people’s records like your own. What you pass over will eventually become part of someone else’s collection.
  2. Leave at least one row between you and the person next to you.
  3. Don’t dig outside of your bin or row if someone is crate digging next to you.
  4. If the racks are over-crowded, move to another section until it thins out.
  5. Don’t loiter around people already digging in a section, bin, or box that you would like to get into.
  6. If you’re joining a rack, ask in which direction they are moving, and start at the opposite end (where they started).
  7. If you would like to use a portable record player to sample the goods, ask if it is okay first. In my experience, I’ve never seen a seller refuse this. In fact, it could lead to great conversation and even access to exclusive items!
  8. Move your selected records out of the way of people digging next to you.
  9. Keep items you are interested in, in a separate stack near you. If you don’t show effort to lay claim to an album that you are interested in and someone pulls it, you forfeit all claim to that record.
  10. Learn to correctly handle a record when inspecting its condition. This sounds simple, but many beginners will pick up an immaculate piece of vinyl and touch the grooved surface with their fingers. Usually dealers will keep records cleaned and polished to bring to light the condition and support the asking price. Following proper practice shows that you revere vinyl and you know what you’re doing.
  11. Negotiating prices is encouraged under certain circumstances. Flea markets are always game, and hard-line price negotiation is expected.
  12. When approaching a dealer’s table, be polite and say ‘hello.’ Although we vinyl collectors have a reputation for being strange, isolated, and slightly obsessive, friendliness is always welcome and costs nothing.
  13. Items you have already bought from another store or dealer, should always be in a bag to avoid confusion.

Person crate digging looking through vinyl records at a record store

Final Words on Crate Digging

Any serious vinyl collector will agree that crate digging is an art form that will take up a lot of your free time, and why not – it’s exciting and rewarding.

Ultimately, if you’re spending time doing something you love, wouldn’t it be so much better if you and those around you, with whom you share this passion, were courteous?


Check out these 9 turntables under 400 that will rock your vinyl like never before. Or if you’re looking for a record player with built in speakers, take your pick from these babies.

A budget cartridge doesn’t have to be a crappy one. Check out these picks that will suit your pocket and perform like a champ.

Person looking through vinyl albums at a record store with headphones on their neck

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is crate digging? 

A. Crate digging is a term used by vinyl collectors and some DJs that refers to checking record stores, thrift stores, and flea markets for vinyl gems! So named because the records are usually stored in milk crate-type containers.

Some people feel crate-digging is boring. However, just like treasure hunting, it all seems like “a waste” until you hit the jackpot find!

You know the old saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”


6 thoughts on “13 Tips to Improve Your Crate Digging Etiquette”

  1. Thanks for these tips. I’m new to vinyl and went on a vinyl hunting weekend to all the thrift stores and vinyl shops in my area. I picked up a few ones I think are gems.

    I’ll definitely keep these tips in mind. 🙂

  2. Pingback: What is the Best Way to Clean Old Vinyl Records

  3. Pingback: Crosley Voyager vs Cruiser: Which is Better?

  4. Pingback: How to Buy Used Vinyl Records

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *