Years ago, it was fashionable to store vinyl records in milk crates, as they are sturdy, easy to move, and the size was just about perfect for housing 12-inch LPs.
Milk crates became so popular as a record storage solution that it caused problems for the dairy industry. Milk crate theft became a huge issue, costing the industry millions each year.
The fact is, genuine milk crates are the property of the dairy they originate from, and it’s illegal to use them for anything other than their intended purpose.
In the United States, there are real fines associated with taking dairy-owned milk crates, so simply taking them isn’t an option. The exact penalty varies from state to state but can range between $200 and $1000.
In any case, according to this Reddit group, milk companies eventually changed the dimensions of newer milk crates to deter record collectors.
That said, many collectors like the convenience and aesthetic of milk crates, and buying your own plastic containers in the style of milk crates is an entirely different story.
The difficulty is finding models big enough to house records. Most record sleeves are around 12.5″, and while you can easily pick up crates, such as these, that are 13″ square, this is the external, not the internal measurement. The internal space is 12″ and vinyl records will not fit. Many vintage milk crates were a little bigger.
Legal ‘Milk Crates’ That Fit Vinyl Records
If you’re lucky, you might be able to source these vintage plastic crates shown in the video below. So long as they’re not the property of a dairy, you’re all set and within the law. The crates shown on Michael Pilmer’s YouTube channel are often found at thrift stores or yard sales, and they’re one of the best designs for storing vinyl records we’ve seen.
They measure over 13 inches tall and 14 inches wide leaving plenty of room for 12-inch LPs both top to bottom and side-to-side. Even better, they’re a stackable design, making them perfect for overflow vinyl record storage or as sturdy containers for transporting your records.
To identify this particular design of crate, you’re looking for a patent number on the bottom as follows: “PAT.PEND. 240 C”
According to one commenter on the video, these crates were called the “Supreme Crate” and were sold exclusively at The Container Store. Sadly, they’re now discontinued:
How Many Records Fit in a Milk Crate
Older or oversized milk crates will comfortably fit 40 – 50 records, so they make for great vinyl record storage. Just be sure you’re not unknowingly taking somebody else’s property in the process.
Alternatives to Milk Crates for Vinyl Records
Crates, in general, make for great record storage, and there are plenty of wooden and metal designs available.
Check out this wooden crate below, which adds a creative touch to your record storage and is perfect for housing a few overflow records. The chalkboard front is ideal for labeling!
Victrola also makes a handy square record crate bearing their classic logo, which holds up to 50 records.
The below crate-style design from The Sound Stash is made from solid renewable bamboo, making it far stronger than many alternatives. It works extremely well for storing heavy box set record collections.
For more crates and containers ideal for storing records, check out our full list of recommendations.
Do you have any recommendations for collectors seeking milk crate designs to store records? Let us know in the comments below.