WINNIPEG -- A collector's mentality is behind a massive collection of 21,000 vinyl records, 30 years in the making, which one Manitoba man is beginning to sell off.

'Selling 13,000 Vinyl Albums From Personal Collection at Very Low Prices,' reads the caption on a social media ad posted by Lionel Bernhard. The good ones, he said, are staying with him.

"So when I started selling, I had my whole collection up for grabs. After losing all my Rush, Neil Young, et cetera, I decided to stop and just sell ones I won't miss or have duplicates of."

The collection is neatly organized in alphabetical order in the basement of his home, surrounded by a shag carpet and 60s décor. Over the bar, in order, sits his top 20 selling albums of all time, from Michael Jackson's Thriller to Madonna, although that ranking is subject to debate.

record collection

Two walls are decorated with about 30 autographed albums, others with floor-to-ceiling shelving filled with records ranging in both rarity and genre. Bernhard's favourite artists include Joe Cocker and Essra Mohawk.

It's not surprising that Bernhard's collection grew due to his past history. He has a huge sports card collection, which unsurprisingly got pushed to the wayside as his focus switched to music. But that background taught him a valuable lesson.

"Based on my sports card experience, there is a time when they will sell for high prices, and then the fad will die away. Now is the time," Bernhard said.

Up for grabs is an eclectic collection of records from Disney to the Beatles, but the album assortment also includes a number of lesser-known Manitoban artists. Many of those came from a garage sale in Altona, where Bernhard said he bought a collection of about 3000 albums originating from a radio station in Swift Current.

Bernhard has posted his albums on a couple of popular music websites and, because of the scope of the collection, it has resulted in a number of inquiries. A couple of weeks ago, he said a DJ from New York asked for music from an album called Soleil, which is from a Winnipeg group.

Three years into selling, he estimates over 14,000 albums have left his home and gone into the hands of hundreds of unique buyers. The workload is heavy, with website updates, pulling albums and checking for duplicates.

"I've enjoyed selling them because people are so excited to get albums back that they used to own or that their parents played. And all those Disney albums for their children," said Bernhard.

The question of why someone would want to gather so much vinyl had to be asked. The answer was history.

"It's not too much about the music for me. It's more the pleasure of owning items that I know have been part of people's personal past for the last 70 plus years. That's why I kind of like it when people write their names on albums because it kind of connects us," Bernhard said.

"Everybody loves music. It is a bigger part of people's lives and personalities than they realize."

record collection

Personally, Bernhard said music has pushed him to learn to play guitar, harmonica, write songs, and he's produced an album.

The choice of what to play is made difficult when the options are in the thousands, so Bernhard has come up with a solution. He chooses the five records he plays on a normal day by drawing playing cards.

"If I come up with 11,817, I look on my list which one that is and pull it from the shelves. It could be gospel, country, or heavy metal," he said.

Despite a basement full of records, his wife is on board.

"She knows it keeps me at my computer instead of the bar," he said.