Hooked on vinyl: Emmons man finds success with online records business

Published 9:00 pm Friday, June 23, 2023

By Abigail Chalmers

Six years ago, 25-year-old Drew Sorenson of Emmons was perusing a garage sale when he happened upon a box of free records.

Though he didn’t even have a turntable at the time, he grabbed a few and took them home.

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The next day, his dad showed up with a turntable that had belonged to Sorenson’s grandfather, and although he didn’t know it at the time, it was the beginning of Rodeo Records.

Since the garage sale that kicked it all off, Sorenson has collected thousands of records. Initially, collecting records had been a hobby shared between his friends and him, but now it has grown into a successful record-selling business. Within the first year, he estimated that he had gathered a couple thousand records and now approximates his current inventory at about 8,000.

Early on, he started casually selling records through Facebook Marketplace, mostly engaging with local buyers. However, in December 2021, Sorenson created a specific Rodeo Records Facebook Group where he could connect with thousands of buyers across the globe.

Within this new group, Rodeo Records flourished, and by June 2022, Sorenson switched away from his full-time job at All-States Ag Parts and moved to part-time to spend more time working on his side hustle.

Since December, he had been working his desk job from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and immediately returning home to spend the next five or six hours working on his own business, which he operates completely independently.

“After a handful of months of doing that, I was just wearing myself so thin,” he said. “I was like, ‘I think I can just sustain myself,’ so I went part time.”

Now, he works at All-States on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and dedicates the other days of the week to Rodeo Records, using those days to scout for more records and package and ship out orders.

When it comes to hunting for new records, Sorenson has six years of experience under his belt and is highly efficient. Through trial and error, he has mastered the art of recognizing valuable records.

“I used to pick up ones I thought were worth something and they’re not,” he said. “Throughout time, I’ve learned what to look for. I’ll flip through a bin of hundreds in seconds and then go and pull out one because I know.”

According to Sorenson, some records are more valuable than others to his buyers depending on the genre and where they were pressed.

“I know certain genres are worth more just in general,” he said. “Classic rock would be my main one that I collect and the main one that other people collect. If I see those, I usually pick them up.”

He also noted that records can fall into three distinct categories, saying that while 95% of records aren’t worth much, 4% are worth $5-$10 and 1% are “rare gems” and can be worth thousands. Although he hasn’t found any such “rarities,” he has come across many that can sell for a couple hundred dollars.

Sorenson sells almost exclusively on Rodeo Records’ Facebook page, posting a total of 27 records at a time in three posts of nine records each. He has dedicated Saturday as his shipping day and sends out about 12 packages a week. Though most of his business is online, he also added that he will also be a vendor at several area flea markets, including the one slated to take place during the Fourth of July weekend.

However, his end goal for Rodeo Records is to open his own store, likely in the Okoboji area. He said he has family in the area and believes that the heavy tourist population would be sufficient in sustaining his business.

“I want a storefront,” he said. “I love dealing with people. I love the interaction. I love talking with people that have a similar interest of mine.”