Visiting him at his loft was simple and added a pleasant personal touch to the exchange.
-- Matthew Cosgrove
What is Volver?
Volver is an appointment-only shop run out of a loft in the Dundas West and Sorauren neighborhood of Toronto.
Volver is for locals and in-the-know travelers. I do not ship. You browse online, but purchase in person.
The process is unusual but easy-to-understand:
All browsing is done online. All inventory is on this site.
Let me know what appeals to you and when you’d like pick up.
Choose a 30-minute arrival window and I will confirm availability. I’m extremely flexible.
For example: “Thursday evening from 9:30 to 10” or “Saturday morning 8:15 to 8:45”. Suggest whatever time works best for you.
Come by during your pick-up window and make your purchase. During Covid I’m doing curbside pickup, though normally you come right in the loft.
At pickup I accept only cash, but you can also etransfer at least 12 hours in advance. Just ask for my etransfer address.
You buy something and embark on an excursion to Lincoln’s secret lair to pick it up. This is the best part. This is when you discover that he’s nice—and so is his dog—and he cares about his customers.
-- Paul Ruta
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the address?
Volver is steps from the intersection of Dundas West and Sorauren Avenue in Toronto. Because it’s an appointment-only business, the exact address is provided once you’ve booked an appointment to make a purchase. There is nothing to browse in-person that is not on the site, so “drop-ins” are not available.
Are your prices firm?
Yes. I have priced things firm and fair and I do not haggle. If you plan to come in person and offer me an amount that doesn’t match what’s listed on the site, you’re wasting your time and mine.
Is it legal to run a shop out of a residence?
Volver’s address is zoned for live/work.
Are you on social media?
Why does it work this way? Why don’t you ship?
Though I understand the lure of online shopping, I do not like what the online economy has done to local businesses. As a consumer, I appreciate the flavor independently-owned shops bring to a neighborhood — and I miss both the social aspect necessary for in-person commerce and the interaction with knowledgeable merchants.
This hardly seems convenient.
I disagree. True, it’s not as convenient as having something arrive at your door hours after surrendering your credit card info — but it’s more convenient than traditional brick-and-mortar shops as you choose the operating hours for both browsing and pickup. Also, convenience can be nice, but convenience as a guiding star gave us Netflix and killed independent video stores. Now, trying to find something decent to watch is a soul-sucking experience. Convenience drove the bulk of indie book stores into the ground and gave us Amazon, a trillion dollar company that treats its employees like shit and pays zero taxes. Thank you very much, convenience. (You know what else isn’t convenient? Vinyl.)
Why don’t you just open a normal store?
I have managed or owned some of the city’s best-loved stores (Art & Trash Video, Vortex Records, and Good Music). In fact, I worked retail / customer service for almost 35 years, but in 2016 I experienced a TIA (a small stroke) which, though unrelated to owning a shop, caused me to reconsider what was important to me. Owning a store wasn’t at the top of the list so I sold out to a competitor and took time for myself and went travelling.
Eighteen months later, I realized I was bored and going broke and should think about getting back to work. With the exception of some lingering memory issues that still persist, I was fully recovered from my TIA. Did I want to open another store? Landlords, locations, employees, the never-ending cycle of regular hours, and winters in Toronto — no, I did not.
Can I keep all the parts I love about retail — engagement with interesting people; an unparalleled selection; fair prices in and out; exemplary customer service — and do away with all the parts I don’t?
Yes, I can. Welcome to Volver.
What does Volver mean and how do you pronounce it?
Volver is a Spanish word meaning “to return,” “to go back,” or “to do again,” all of which are appropriate for my return to retail. Colloquially it can also mean “to turn or spin around,” or “to turn over,” which of course ties in with records.
In Spain, it’s pronounced bol-behr (bol-βeɾ). To anglicize the pronunciation, you’d say vol-vair, with the emphasis on the second syllable.
I thought it was Volver as in the end of Revolver.
Most people do, but — no, that’s not a word.
How has Covid affected Volver’s operation?
I’m doing curbside pickup and accepting etransfers to avoid touching cash. If you have records to sell, I ask you wait outside while I evaluate them in the loft. Close by there is a coffee shop with a patio if you prefer.
There's no one I'd rather do business with... There's always fresh things coming in, which keeps me coming back. Roll by the loft, hang out with Lincoln and his dog, and see why Volver puts other shops to shame.
-- David Lipson
Notes On Not-Records
Volver carries a small quantity of new and used items that I find interesting. Some of these items were purchased specifically for resale whereas others are from my personal collection.
All not-records are gathered on this page with the latest arrivals at the top. Clicking on an item will take you to the info page where you can get more details and find out if it’s a one-off or something I plan to carry regularly. If the item is used / vintage, obviously I will not be restocking it. If it’s listed as New and Sold Out, I may restock it. Contact me expressing your interest — the more interest I get in an out of stock item the more likely I am to bring it back in.
Some items are restocked based on the publisher or manufacturer’s schedule. For instance, Apartamento Magazine is brought in twice a year upon publication. Copies go first to customers who pre-ordered and extra copies (if any) are added to my regular inventory.
Where do you get your not-records?
New items are usually brought in directly from the designer, artists, manufacturer, or publisher. I rarely deal with distributors or middle-men as I prefer one-on-one communication with the person or company responsible for the item. It also puts more money in their pocket and guarantees me delivery as there’s no buffer between us.
Used items are generally from my existing personal collection, though occasionally I’ll purchase a used or vintage item from someone specifically for resale.
I'm an artist or have something interesting you may be keen on
Feel free to email a proposal to firstname.lastname@example.org with details, photos, and pricing and I’ll give it some thought.
I’ve said it to peers in the record world and I’ll say it again here: no one really does it like Lincoln does.
-- Marc Calabretta
Notes On Records
New records are added to the Records page every day at 7 PM sharp. Cheap Records and Record Bundles are added to their page between 3 and 3:15 Sunday afternoon. Most of my customers set an alert on their phone to remind them to view the pages precisely at the appropriate times. Often, records sell within seconds of being posted so it pays to be quick. I do not answer the phone between 6:55 and 7:15 PM because that time is dedicated to answering texts. So, if you want one of today’s records, don’t call — text!
The first person to say they want an item is the person to get it. When you say you want something, I take that as a commitment to purchase. If you later change your mind, I again make the record available for others to purchase and I promptly block your phone number, barring you from future commerce. This means that it’s important that you read the description of the record and look at the pictures before telling me you want it.
All pressings are guaranteed to be properly ID’d with the record’s condition accurately described. If you purchase something from me and find my description inaccurate, you may return it for a full refund. I do not have time to listen to every record I sell, so things are graded visually using a light-box and spot-checked when marks are found. Occasionally, a record can have pressing issues that are not discernible to the eye. If there’s an issue with something you purchased, simply text me and let me know. I will never knowingly sell a record with an issue without mentioning it or posting a photo of it on that record’s info page.
Answers To Questions I've Been Asked Far Too Many Times
Can I come by and browse the records you haven’t yet listed on your site?
Can I browse the unlisted records if I’m waiting in your loft while you go through the records I’m selling you?
No, but you’re welcome to homemade iced tea or a cocktail while you wait.
What is the condition of the records?
Each record is accurately described on its info page. That said, I am a very picky record dealer. I do not knowingly sell records with unstated issues and everything I sell is guaranteed. Though I have a professional light-box for viewing records, 99% of my repeat customers do not bother checking the shape of records they’re buying because they trust my grading.
Does the guarantee apply to discounted records or record bundles?
Yes. The record bundles are not discounted due to condition — they’re discounted due to their lack of scarcity.
You have a record I want. Can I trade my own records against it?
I am always in the market for quality records and I do offer more in trade than I do in cash — even though I give 50% in cash! I have a separate page for how to sell records to Volver — read it here and find out why you should sell to me. In short: I pay 50% of the resale value in cash and another 20% above that amount in trade. So, if you’re selling me a record I think is worth $20, you get $10 in cash or $12 in trade.
I have a friend who has records they want to sell. Is there any incentive for me to refer them to you?
Yup. If you bring me a new seller who specifically mentions you the first time they’re selling, I will give you a credit to use on my records. The credit is 10% of what I pay them, to a maximum of $100, and it comes out of my end, not theirs. So, for example, a stranger brings me records, says you sent them, and I spend $1000. You get a $100 credit off records you buy from Volver.
- They must have never bought from or sold to me before;
- They must mention you by name at the time they’re selling. Make sure they know your full name — I have a lot of customers named Dave or Anthony;
- The credit is for 10% of the amount I pay them for the first batch of records they sell to me and its maximum value is $100.
- The credit can only be applied to used records and never expires.
Some of your records sell very fast. How can I increase my chances of getting titles I want?
- Add my phone number to your contacts so you can text quickly. 416 556 6278.
- Check the website daily at 7 PM sharp.
- Send a brief text indicating your desired title(s) as quickly as possible.
For example: “The Cure Pornography” or “Coltrane please” are great texts. “Hey Lincoln it’s me again. That Mingus looks great and I don’t have it. Can you put it aside for me please?” is way too long. Someone else beat you to the record you wanted while you were typing that out.
But how do I know if the record I want is still available?
Sometimes, a record sells so fast that I do not have time to mark it sold before someone else texts me about the same title. (I mark them sold as quickly as possible). Though this is unfortunate, it’s always best to assume the record is still available unless marked Sold. If you message me, “Is record X still available?” someone else could commit to buying the record seconds later — before I’ve had a chance to respond to you — and they would get the record because your asking me if it’s still available is not a commitment on your part. Just text “I’ll take X” and if you’re too late, I’ll let you know.
Why won’t you take “Is record X still available?” as a commitment to buy?
Because the majority of people who ask this question follow up with “Okay, gonna think about it,” or “Thanks — I can’t remember which pressing I have. I’ll get back to you.”
Why don’t you specify the grading of the records? VG+, etc?
In today’s world, those terms are useless. I see things for sale all the time described as “Near mint… except for one skip” or “Cover is VG+ except for a split bottom seam,” etc.
As a result, I do not use those terms. I strive to offer only issue-free records and will indicate if there’s a problem with a particular title. Each record’s info page also has high-res photos that can be zoomed into.
How picky am I? I have sold tens of thousands of records since 2005 and have had less than two dozen returned due to condition. That picky.
The one exception to this rule is that I use the word Mint to indicate a sealed, never-been-opened record.
Can you make an exception to your shipping policy?
Don’t you know you could make a lot more money if you shipped?
I do. But I also know that there’s more to life than money. Absolutely nothing about shipping records or online commerce appeals to me. Besides, where else would I find the satisfaction that comes from interacting face-to-face with my customers?
Have you ever broken your shipping policy?
I have hand-delivered records to Venice, California, and Barcelona, Spain. But those were unusual circumstances that have the same solution at their root: I was going there anyway. Neither time did I ship anything or enter a post office.
I’m looking for a particular record that is not on your website. Do you have one in the loft or can you let me know the next time you find one?
This is not a service I provide.
Why?! I want it!
And I’ve always wanted to make out with Hud-era Patricia Neal. Alas, like the universe, Volver has rules.
Look, if the record is sufficiently rare, believe me, you are not the first person to ask me for it. If I did offer a reserve service, you’d have to be put at the end of the line behind everyone who’s already asked for the same title. Offering such a service would therefore decrease your chance of getting the record.
My current system means absolutely everyone has the same opportunity to purchase my records by checking the site at 7 PM each night. New customers will not lose out because of favoritism or lists.
I mentioned off-hand that I was looking for a certain record and a while later one appeared on your site and you didn’t give me a heads-up. Why?
I consider this the same question as the previous one, but just to clarify: people talk to me about records every single day. I do not have the interest in memorizing their wants and desires. Further, due to the previously mentioned stroke, I do not have the mental capacity to do so.
Will you ship or keep an eye out for a particular record if I pay you a premium?
Though many people have suggested this, I have an aversion to any process which exacerbates the imbalance between the haves and have-nots.
Is that a no?
I want to buy multiple records. What kind of discount can I get?
My prices are firm and fair. Some of my competitors get discounts on the used records they buy because they offer low-ball prices to sellers because they’re “taking them all”. I pay the same high 50% of resale value for every record I buy regardless of the quantity. Discounting for you is not cost-effective for me.
I own a record store — would you like to buy records from me?
I have a strict policy of only buying records from the public privately — I do not buy my inventory from Valu Village, garage sales, record conventions, radio stations, or my competition. I did this once when I first started out. I felt awful about it and immediately made good of my own free will with that vendor — then, I immediately instated a policy against that practice and have never broken it.
Though some of my competition brag about being the store that bought CHUM’s records, or JazzFM, or CKLN, or whatever, know that they’re spinning that as a feather in their cap, but every record dealer in the city was offered those records. I declined.
Basically, if a record has already been priced for the public, I believe it’s unethical to purchase it, increase the sticker price, and offer it to the same public — even if, or especially if, the record has been substantially under-priced. This is one of the reasons the recent trend of record vendors buying their inventory from record conventions infuriates me. Their customers are literally standing right behind them in line, watching them purchase records they themselves want, which will end up doubled or tripled in price in the vendor’s shop the next day. I do not share those vendors’ contempt for customers.
Are the pull-quote testimonials in the red boxes on this site from real people?
Yes. Their full testimonials and links to their online presences,when possible, are in the Testimonials section.
I work for such-and-such publication and would like to interview you about Volver. What’s the best way to contact you?
I truly appreciate people talking and writing about the shop — by all means, please, spread the word! — but I’m not someone who enjoys being interviewed on camera or microphone, and therefore will decline participation. If you have typed questions, I’m happy to answer them. Lastly, I would sincerely appreciate you not sharing the store’s address online or in your publication as it is also my home. Thank you.
Thanks for taking the time to read through this FAQ.