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Milk crate affordance

Used record shopping – milk crates

Originally uploaded by bsadler.

As we all know, Christmas is nothing without the traditional Christmas used record shopping. This year the annual Christmas record prowl happened in Kingston, Ontario, where Matt and I spent quite a bit of time in this little jewel of a shop on Princess Street. It was everything a used record store should be: obscure band posters on the walls, excellent and cheap selection, and surly clerks who clearly knew more about music than any of the customers and thus only with great effort could be motivated to answer questions. But I digress…

One of the things I liked best about the store was that many of the record bins were made from very old milk crates. And Matt told me an interesting story about milk crates and unexpected affordance. Before Canada went to the metric system in the 1970s, milk crates were the perfect size for vinyl albums. In the 70s, this led to widespread theft of milk crates, which stopped once the metric system was adopted, when milk crates became just a little too small to comfortably fit vinyl records. Since that time, the pre-1970s milk crates have become collectors items among vinyl afficionados, the older and more obscure the dairy the better (and extra points for French!).


Comment from Gabriel Farrell
Time: January 2, 2007, 1:25 pm

I think milk crate makers in the U.S. got wise to the widespread theft as well — the only ones that fit 12″ vinyl well are from the ’70s and ’80s, and we never even made it to metric!

Gabe (proud owner of 4 perfectly-sized milk crates)

Comment from bess
Time: January 2, 2007, 1:37 pm

Hi, Gabe. I was wondering what had happened in the states, without the switch to metric. Now I know. Thanks!

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