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Community Highlights: Meet Daniel Lupton of Sorry State Records

Today we’d like to introduce you to Daniel Lupton. 

Hi Daniel, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
Sorry State Records started as a record label in 2005, releasing a 7″ vinyl record by a band called Direct Control. In an effort to distribute that record as widely as possible, we started bartering for stock with other similar record labels in the punk rock scene, eventually building a small stock of records that we would sell on our website and at concerts. I always reinvested any revenue back into the business, so we kept putting out records and acquiring more stock. It took over one-bedroom in my house, then another, and eventually it was too big to share my living space. So, we opened our brick-and-mortar store in 2013, hoping to do a little bit of walk-up business while using the space primarily as a warehouse and fulfillment center for online sales. Surprisingly, the store has been really successful and now we’re in the process of moving our warehouse and fulfillment center to another space in southeast Raleigh. Along the way, we’ve continued to put out records by bands from all over the world (and plenty from right here in North Carolina) and help keep punk rock records traveling all over the world. 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
We have never really had a source of capital to grow the business, so we have always grown slowly and steadily by reinvesting our earnings into the business. That has meant some tight months when we have unexpected drops in cash flow. When I finally quit my day job a few years ago it was a real struggle to find a way to pay myself consistently. I don’t have any training in business, so seeing Sorry State as a business and managing it well have been my main struggles. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Sorry State Records does two main things: first, we make and distribute punk rock records with a heavy focus on the international music scene; second, we buy and sell vintage collectible records. At the end of the day, I think it is our passion and dedication to music that sets us apart. Of course, anyone in the music business is passionate–you don’t get into this world to make huge piles of money–but we are tenacious and very dedicated to our mission of finding and highlighting great music. I’m most proud when we’re able to find a great band from Peru or Macedonia or Japan (or Raleigh!) and expose them to an audience who is eager to hear them. 

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