Anyone who browses Charlotte’s various pop-ups probably flipped through Diggers Delight’s record crates. The pop-up record swap-meet has sold classic used vinyl albums at venues across the city. Now they’re opening their own store at the Tip-Top Daily Market in Plaza-Midwood.
Diggers Delight is the creation of Kim Neal and Scott Slagle. The self-described ‘vinyl curators’ grew up collecting records and performing music. Both DJed college parties in high school and met through mutual friends in Charlotte’s music scene.
Neal performed as ‘Untamed’ with local acts like Nasty Fruit. He began collecting in 1979 when “Rapper’s Delight” came out; starting with Just Ice’s “Back to the Old School,” and Stetsasonic.
Slagle is a 30-year Charlotte music veteran, who DJ’s as ‘Flock of Slagles.’ He is the owner/recording engineer for Asylum Digital Recording and Mixing, a studio he founded in the early 90s. His collection started at 12-years old with Whodini’s “Escape,” and Prince’s “Purple Rain.”
Eventually, their collections got too large. After their DJ friend unloaded her old records on them, they did a small swap to purge all their extra vinyl. However; after noticing friends buying wrong sample albums, they decided to expand.
In May 2016, Diggers Delight formed. They’ve held monthly pop-ups in Tip-Top and Snug Harbor, and appeared at events like NoDa Super Flea. While running a shop at Dupp & Swatt’s ‘The Conception,’ they partnered with Tip-Top and Premium Sounds Records on a record store. Half the market has vinyl bins, and a stage and DJ booth for performances.
I had the chance to chat with Neal and Slagle about watching Diggers Delight grow, and what they expect for its future.
Were there any growing pains from starting a pop-up like this and branching out?
Slagle: What has been interesting, is now you know definitely what people’s level of what will move, or what won’t. Even if you might like something, you know what people ain’t going to buy.
Neal: People not going to buy stuff just because we think it’s dope.
S: I mean, there’s certain things, you figure that out. Some things we probably got stuck with early on with that take up some space, but…
N: Ended up moving like months later.
S: But, now we just have a better handle on really, what people like or are attracted too. Not just us. Like, as far as jazz, I love free jazz; the hardcore album shit. And, I’ve come to realize that’s not how most people listen to jazz. I mean, some people do, but some people are way more into the standard stuff. The hardest thing to get, really, is Hip-Hop albums. Hip-Hop albums are the hardest shit to get. You can get Hip-hop 12’, but the albums…that is the most difficult stuff to get.
N: They got played a lot. And, most don’t come off them.
S: I don’t think people not coming off them, I think that shit got trashed. Because, it was our age group people, they just probably didn’t give a fuck, and when they moved they just tossed that shit in the dumpster. I really think that what it is!
Crate Diggers Scott Slagle (right) and Kim Neal (left)
Can you describe an instance where someone came and sold you something rare that you’d never thought you’d come across?
S: All the time. So, going through a dollar bin or something, like a literal dollar bin, and you finding $300 records. In the dollar bin. You like, oh shit! Let me put these other, trashy stuff between them real quick, so nobody notices!
N: Or my favorite, try to act like you’re not excited, ‘I’ll just get these, let me get these.’ But when you leave, you dancing. Your smile is so big that your face hurts and shit. And the most beautiful is when we somehow acquire records. When folks just give you stuff. They just give you stuff because. And it’s kind of confusing. It’s understandable, but it’s confusing how folks just give up somebody else’s collection. Or, they just give up their collection.
Is that usually how you get your collection? Just dollar bins and acquiring?
S: Not just dollar bins, but really looking, and talking to people like, ‘oh I have a closet, or I have these records in a closet,’ or whatever. Then on the flip of that, sometimes you have people that might come out with something, and they think it’s worth way more than they are. It’s kind of frustrating, because we had something that happened a couple weeks back. Somebody brought in some good records- it was some good records- but it was kind of messy. And if we buy it from you, there has to be room so we can sell it too. If any of the guys, if us or Lunchbox, or whatever. We don’t buy it for what we sell it for. But the guy thought – he brought us some decent stuff – but I think he felt like…
N: He felt like we was gonna make his ass rich, and that’s just not how it goes.
S: Like retail, and it’s like nah!
N: He came and approached us like he was a retail store. That’s just not how it goes. And it’s no disrespect to him at all.
S: It’s just tricky. But, you have people that just want to get stuff out the house. You have people that you have estate sales.
N: Somebody passed. Somebody transitioning, and they like, ‘I don’t know what to do with these,’ and they don’t want them, ‘I’ll bring them to you.’
S: Because really. Up until a certain point, especially in the 90s, when I was really making beats and shit. To be honest, I wasn’t really buying records at that point. We were taking records from people’s momma’s house. I was with my dude, his momma lived in Troutman, NC, and man, they had this coat closet. You open that door, and a coat closet is like 3ft deep, 4ft wide whatever. And man, dude, like, records flat, stacked all the way up. 3 deep, and 4 wide all the way up! And I’m just grabbing shit out the door.
So, generally the prices, being it’s a used place, runs on select prices?
N: Based on how rare it is, and what kind of condition it is.
S: Mainly on what kind of condition it is. Most things in here, I mean of course there’s a dollar bin, but most things that’s in the crates, are between $2, and I try not to go above $30. Anything that’s really above $30…there’s 1 or 2 things in there that’s like $35. There’s a Gill-Scott Heron in there, that’s right out is $35…But mainly the things that are above $30? That’s stuff we would definitely sell online, as opposed to here.
N: And we want to be clear, just because it’s expensive, doesn’t mean we don’t have records that are not expensive that are very good. We’ve got some $7 records in there that will blow your damn socks off.
S: We got $2 records that will blow your socks off.
As far as your customer type, how would you describe the range of customers that come through? Do you get return customers?
S: There are a lot of return customers. Some people know what they’re looking for, and some people, they’re just looking for something to grab.
N: There’s a wide array of kinds of customers. All different kinds. We have folks who look for cassettes. We have folks who are looking for gospel. We have folks that are looking for jazz. Folks who looking for rock alternative. Folks that look for expensive records, inexpensive records. Folks that’s just curious. Some folks who have been collecting for decades, and some folks that’s just starting now.
S: Yeah. Some people, it’s been kind of a trip. There’s been a number of people that have been buying records that are planning to collect, but don’t even have a turntable yet.
N: They don’t even have anything to play them on.
S: Or stereo, or anything. It’s like, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna, I’m building up a collection and I’m a buy it.’ Which is kind of odd.
N: Which is hella odd.
S: But it’s dope. But it’s because it’s that tangle thing. It’s sort of like a book you know. There’s no… as for as with Mp3’s, you can’t hold it, you can’t pick it up and look at it.
You remember anything specific about anyone having a hard time finding something? Somebody really liked something, and you helped them out?
N: I’ll say this. It’s difficult sometimes, but I’m tell you what’s key. Is to just start talking to people about what they like, ‘Okay what do you like.’ Because if we ask them what their looking for, that’s…
S: Oh, that’s loaded!
N: That’s loaded. So, you got to ask folks what they like, and they’ll start mentioning stuff. And because we’ve been listening to these records for like, ever, we could kind of lead them down a path. The beautiful thing is we’ll have people be able to listen to their albums. That’s what helps a lot. To be like, ‘Look, listen to this record.’ But sometimes my favorite people – I tell Scott this all the time – my favorite people to buy albums are women. Because a lot of times it’s purely emotional. And that’s the beautiful thing about music, it can evoke a lot of emotion. When they come in, they get it, they invest in it. They’re not playing. They won’t come in and get it and be like, ‘Oh! I’m a just get rid of it, or I’m a sample this little part and put it away.’ Nah! The ladies. When they buy an album, they buy an album and they listen to it. If they like jazz, they really, really like jazz. There’s one lady that came to Tip-Top, and she’s got this thing for album covers. She brought some stuff strictly on the strength of album covers, and she trusts that. Scott trusts that too.
S: I trust that too. Yeah. Like, if it’s in that certain year. From my personal collection, I stay in between a certain amount of years, and I can tell, if I don’t know it, by the album cover I can tell exactly what year it is.
N: And the fonts! The fonts on the album can kind of give it away.
Does it ever get to a point where somebody asks, “Do you have this?” And you don’t have it yet? Do you take requests for searches, or charge extra?
S: Not charge extra, but we do look for things. Sometimes it’s successful, and sometimes it ain’t too.
N: Because we tell folks, we don’t know what we’re gonna find when we go looking. So, the best thing for you to do is if we say we’re selling it you come see us. Or just reach out to us through social media, send us emails, and we’re doing stuff on discogs now too. It’s interesting. I’m saying it’s interesting, because we just recently started doing discogs, and a record that we’ve had for a while, Scott put it on there and then 15 minutes later somebody bought it from Japan.
S: Yeah, our first discogs sale was a $225 record. I was like, yes! And it wasn’t an album, it was a 12 rush.
N: Was it an EP, because it was like four songs on it?
S: It was, Lyrically Distorted (“Flavor for the Wise.”)
Do you have any predictions for the store? How do you think the volume is going to be as far as walk-in traffic?
S: I think the volume is going to be real good. We’ll constantly have events and people stopping through. And you know, it’s a social atmosphere, and that’s the way we want to make it, so you know, it’s records and beer man. I’ve always wanted, like if we did a store, I want it to be a social environment. Where you can kick back and chill, and talk, not just run in and run out.
What would you say to anyone who would want to start a pop-up?
S: Don’t do this! Stay your ass at home! Nah!
N: Give it time. Start small, give it time, be consistent.
S: And have good taste.
N: And ask questions. If you don’t know ask questions. It’s that simple.
S: But just really, it’s about taste. Like, there are other people who have tried this, but it doesn’t necessarily work.
N: Did it not work because they didn’t have taste, or because they sucked as a person?
S: I won’t say that. But, all I’m saying is… it’s definitely about relationships. They’re certain things you can do when you know people. If people don’t like you it makes it difficult. Nobody owes us a fucking thing. So, it’s definitely a privilege when people come in and spend money. They can be spending money anywhere, on any number of things, so man it’s a privilege.
If you would like to contact Diggers Delight, or want information on future events, got to their site; https://www.diggersdelightvinyl.com/