Good idea, I was getting the feeling it was time to move the conversation as well.
Turntable Kitchen is local for me (Seattle) and I do like them for building my 7" collection and getting either a cooking ingredient or bag of coffee. I have been thinking of switching over to the covers alum subscription they have. Pressing plant backups have definitely been rough for them and we are now 1.5 months behind schedule (3 months at one point). When the long backup happened they let everyone choose any past release that they still had stock in to replace the months missed. Snagged a copy of the Fruit Bats cover of The Smashing Pumpkins ‘Siamese Dream’ and man is that a fantastic cover album!
HWF (Heady Wax Fiends) is only about to send out their second release. The admins for the Facebook group of the same name decided on a whim a few months back to start one since so many people were posting about which subscriptions to go for. There are shop owners in that group so they partnered with Ridge Runner Records to handle to buying and distributing portion. this is a private group, but filled with some amazing people with incredible taste in music. There is always something going up I have never heard of and have made so many purchases that last couple years based on recommendations from the group. the group was started as a kind of joke (hence the silly name), but now is over 4k strong. There is really no shitting on peoples choice in music allowed. Discussions are of course welcome and you can poo poo your own posts if your not really digging something and want to spark some conversations. A-holes will quickly be removed. @SandboxGeneral if you ever have an interest in checking it out and lurking on the posts let me know and I can send an invite.
VMP is great, but can also be hit or miss on some of the releases. they were getting to be expensive and too many quality control issues that I decided to hold off on that one for a while and just buy releases from them that catch my eye. Customer service was always helpful for me and they replace damaged packaging and media pretty much without hesitation.
Jazz is Dead I only did for a few months, until they recently switched over to a NFT based system. Ill stick to buying the releases a la carte.
Bandcamp is my preferred way to buy records if I can so that I am also building a high quality digital library at the same time. not always possible of course if I am on the hunt for something older. Another thing I don’t like is that if you can get free shipping by purchasing a certain amount from the artist site or record companies site, you will not get that same treatment if going through their Bandcamp page. Love Bandcamp for discovering new music and staying up with artist releases.
For used records I tend to buy from people in the HWF Facebook group or in person at a store. I will use Discogs for used records, but as you said quality can be iffy and really have to find the right sellers to keep going back to. I am going to have to check out SD Records after your recommendation and experience with their service. Discogs is how I keep track of my collection and seem to have the best service for doing that.
For new records if I’m not getting it from Bandcamp its pretty much wherever has the best deal. I do tend to check out Ridge Runner Records and Fresh Produce Records first before moving on to other stores. Building a report with shop owners in the HWF group has its benefits. Both of these guys will run deals all the time on records and Fresh Produce offers a discount for member of the HWF group.
Other places I like to use for buying records are Turntable Lab, Rough Trade and then there is one of my favorites, Plaid Room Records. Plaid Room is the storefront for Colemine/ Karma Chief Records and IMO Colemine is putting out the greatest collection of modern soul/ psychedelic soul, funk and offshoots of these genres. Black Pumas are on the Karma Chief label. I have a whole cube dedicated to Colemine, Daptone, Numbero Group, Dead Oceans and Big Crown Records. Numbero Group and Dead Oceans are owned by the same people (Secretly Group) and Big Crown is Leon Michels label (El MIchels Affair).
I better stop here before I scare anyone away…