I’ve recently started collecting k-pop albums, and just wanted to share my experiences and recommendations. So far, I’ve only purchased from sellers based in the US, with the exception of Mwave for signed albums. However, for Mwave orders, I recommend purchasing with a group order. More on that later! I live on the West Coast and I’m biased towards sellers closer to me because it’ll arrive quicker and it’s less likely to encounter any damage from prolonged travel time.
Choice Music (LA Store + online)
I’ve been to the store in LA and placed an online order exactly once. I preordered an album that was released on 3/13 and I received it on 3/19.
Music Plaza (LA Store + online + eBay)
I’ve been to the store in LA and placed an online order exactly once. Even though I ordered an album two months after its release, they still had the preorder benefit, which was nice.
Kpop Trash (online only, but allows LA pick-up option)
They are relatively new, but my favorite thing about them is that they offer free shipping for orders over $50! I placed an order in the morning and it was shipped out the same day. Everything was very well-packaged in lots of bubble wrap and there were a bunch of free gifts. For one of the albums, they didn’t have an option to select the album version, but I asked for a specific version in the comments and they confirmed in an email that they had sent it! (Plus, I pulled the photocard I really wanted so I am eternally grateful.)
They generally do not have albums on sale until after the release date, but they do also sell cosmetics and some merch. You can get 10% your order by using my referral link (a popup will appear on the right and you can enter your email to receive the code).
I’ve ordered new (sealed) albums from the following sellers on eBay and both were fine.
kpopstoreinusa9 on eBay (ships from Atlanta)
get_importcds on eBay (ships from Kentucky) – they frequently offer a 20% discount off orders of $60+
I’ve also ordered an unsealed album and I regretted not contacting them beforehand for additional pictures/details. But I was in a hurry to use a coupon code before it expired…
Note: Every once in a while eBay will have codes for 15% or 20% off your order (with a minimum purchase amount). So keep your watchlist stocked with things you’d buy if they were a little cheaper!
I’ll order from any seller that qualifies for Amazon Prime shipping and is fulfilled by Amazon. Don’t expect folded posters to always arrive in great condition but my albums have been fine. I’ve ordered from the sellers valueflag and PiKACHU, and I always keep an eye out for sellers who include free gifts! Sometimes they will also still have preorder benefits, which should be noted either in the item title or description.
Group Orders (GOs)
Group orders are when one person orders a ton of albums in bulk to save on shipping. You can find them on Facebook and Twitter. Frequently, group order managers (GOMs) will also ask you for your photocard preferences and open all the albums to sort them. I’ve only joined an Mwave group order, so I can’t say if joining a GO is cheaper than buying the album from a US seller yourself. Sometimes, a GOM will cover the EMS shipping fees (shipping from Korea) themselves, so you’ll only have to pay for domestic shipping. However, GOs can also be risky because GOMs prefer not to accept PayPal Goods & Services payments.
For Mwave, some of their albums are signed by a random member rather than signed by all members, so if you have a preference for whose signature you want, definitely join a group order so your odds are higher! A lot of GOMs buy extra albums.
Facebook and Twitter
There are general k-pop buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook as well as groups for specific k-pop artists. These groups have been SO helpful for helping me collect some albums that are out-of-print and past Mwave signed albums. I definitely recommend paying with PayPal G&S for buyer protection. Ask about damage/defects before you pay and ask about how your goods will be packaged. (I forgot to ask once and received a photocard that wasn’t protected in a toploader.)
On Twitter, I follow some GOMs for groups I like and they will frequently RT posts from other people who are selling albums or merch. They also sometimes sell extras themselves. Be careful though! Check for proofs (tweets from past buyers with photos of the goods they received) and try to pay with G&S when possible.
That’s all I’ve got! If you have any questions, please leave a comment!