Claudia Mendiola-Durán | Owner, Sonidos! Music & More

We recently shared a list of women owned record stores, and thankfully another local record store told us about the gem that is Sonidos! Music & More in Beltsville, Maryland.  Meet Claudia Mendiola-Durán founder of Sonidos! which opened in 2019 on her love and passion for music and its ability to bring people together. ​

Her resume includes the likes of Tower Records, and Joe’s Record Paradise before taking the next step of going into business for herself.  Her mission at Sonidos! is to bring back the Music-Store-As-A-Community ethos and to serve as a reminder of how discovering and buying music is meant to be a social affair; one where people from all walks of life can come together and connect through the power of music.  

In her free time, she likes to unwind doing ‘nature stuff’ like hiking and kayaking. When she can’t get our in nature she explores her city, visiting museums, and finding new restaurants. “I also really, REALLY, miss karaoke. Like, a lot.” 

How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?

I got into the business in 2006 when I started working at Tower Records. I have always loved music, and had been trying to work at a music store for a good while when I got lucky and landed the job at Tower.

What is a day in the life like?

I’ll usually get up and check email and social media before I go into the shop. I will get in to work and price records all day and try to make at least one Instagram post a day and engage with my audience. If any items have sold from Etsy or IG, I will pack them up and put them aside so I can take them home with me and get the shipping labels printed out and ready so I can send them out the next day.

What has been your favorite sale / relationship made from behind the counter?

Oh, I can’t pick just one! Especially since I opened my own store, every new connection I make from behind the counter is meaningful and vital to the growth of my business and my community!

In your opinion what has been the coolest thing to come through your shop / the thing you had to keep / almost couldn’t put out for sale?

I find something awesome I want to keep pretty much every day I go in, lol… but the most recent notable acquisition would be an original copy of J Dilla’s “Donuts.”

What has been the craziest experience that has happened at the shop?

Having to shut down operations for four months due to COVID after only four and a half months of opening the store.  I wouldn’t recommend it, haha!

What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?

Be ready to give up a lot of your free time in search of the next big collection, and don’t be afraid to travel for it. Start training to be a bloodhound for vinyl.

If you’re not the “I brake for yard sales” type, you’d better start! Always be on the lookout, even when you’re away on break or vacation or whatever. It’s the lifeblood of your business and you have to be proactive!

Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?

I am. I always had a few records that I pulled from my parents’ collections, and stuff I would randomly scoop up from Goodwill, but nothing like I did after I started at Tower. That was my gateway. I’ve been on the hunt ever since.

What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?

Meeting everyone’s needs! When I first started the business, my answer would have been, “finding record collections to buy,” but fortunately that part has gotten a little easier now that we’re getting our name out there.

Now, the biggest and most frequent challenge just juggling all the customer inquiries day in and day out, and also making sure that I’m on top of my pricing so that customers always have something new to look forward to each week when they come visit.

I have an amazing associate, Gabe, who helps me out a LOT — he’s effectively the other half of this business. I’m super-lucky to have him, and I wouldn’t be anywhere near as efficient or effective if I didn’t have him in my corner.

What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.

It’s looking like Record Fairs and vendor events are finally coming back, which I’m excited about! I didn’t get to do too many before COVID hit, so I’m really stoked to do these events again. I notice that shops were collaborating with breweries a lot and setting up pop-ups, and I really like that vibe. Nice and social. Conversations flow more easily. It’s gonna be great to start going back to that again.

During this time we’re currently in, what message do you have for music and vinyl fans? How can we support you, the industry?

Connect with us on social media and tell your friends! Word of mouth! I know a lot of hardcore diggers like to keep good spots to themselves because they don’t want other people cutting into ‘their’ little secret gem and want to have it all to themselves, but that’s literally the worst thing you can do for us!  If you love us and want us to stick around so you can keep finding killer tunes, spread the word.

Anything else you’d like to add:

My record collection is not as big as you would think, considering how long I’ve been in the business! But it’s all killer, no filler. I’ve moved around a lot and lived in an apartment for awhile, so I’m pretty good at working with small spaces and keeping myself from filling them up with every record I come across. But trust that if I find something worthy of taking up the valuable real-estate on the shelves at home, it’s gonna be awesome. I think this also made me well-suited for curating my shop so effectively — it’s small, but mighty!

Find Claudia:

Instagram: @sonidos.musicshop

Twitter: @sonidos_music


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