Cut-outs.  Bargains discs.  The Return Bin.  If you're of the age that remembers buying music on vinyl records - you probably remember the ever-popular cut-out bins that were found in records stores.  

To make a long story short, these bins were filled with albums (or cassettes and 8-tracks) that were overstocked by the shop owner and were no longer carried by the record label or distributor;  In order to make some profit off of the inventory, the record store would mark them as cut-outs (usually by punching a hole in the corner) and sell them at a reduced rate.  There were also companies that specialized in buying warehouses of these discontinued records from record chains - re-selling them as cut-outs around the country. 

Bottom line - these cut-out bins were a GREAT place to score bargains for your record collection.  A lot of really popular albums ended up being over-ordered by record stores - resulting in a glut of inventory after demand waned.  "Coda" by Led Zeppelin, "City To City" by Gerry Rafferty, "A New World Record" by the Electric Light Orchestra, and "Abby Road" by the Beatles are some prime examples from the 1970's of albums that ended up in the cut-out bin.  These bins were also a good source of new music by developing artists -- without having to pay the full price.

The practice continued through the dawn of the CD era - but ended soon afterwards as the music industry changed with the times.  Less advance CD's are shipped these days - and - as digital downloads take over, it's getting harder and harder to find a full-price CD yet alone a discounted/cut-out one.

But there IS hope for bargain-seeking record/CD collectors out there.  As a lot of the "big box" stores get out of the physical CD business, I've been noticing small bins of discounted releases -- some of which aren't all that obscure.  Nose around near the clearance section or in the music  and electronics area.  There are also a lot of online sources you can turn to.  From Ebay auctions to, it's possible to find the music you've been looking for at a reduced price.  Sure - the CD's aren't new in these cases, but that's a small price to pay for a good deal on some great music.  All you have to do is look and "make your own cut-out bin"!

Happy hunting!