Audio Connections

Rachel Gibbons

With guitars, pianos, harmonicas and drums in store, Audio Connections has even more to offer than what a first glance catches. Audio Connections is a music supply store that also offers the services of The Dance Machine DJ company and designing and installation for sound systems. “Connecting you to the future in sound,” is the store’s slogan.

Audio Connections is located at 400 Main Avenue. The owners are Jeff and Cris Engen. It is a musical retail store that sells guitars, amplifiers, music accessories, lighting and sound gear, and rents P.A. systems, lighting, video projectors and screens.

The store has been at its current location for five years. It was once located in the old University Mall but has since moved downtown for twelve years of business overall. Word of mouth plays an important factor in spreading the news about business since Audio Connections is the only music supply store in the Brookings area.

“Surrounding areas support our store. Sioux Falls is the next closest location for a music supply store. We have had sound contracting all the way from Rapid City to Minnesota. We try to hit all markets with advertising,” Cris said.

Audio Connections houses different features. Jeff Engen runs The Dance Machine, which is a disk jockey business. The Dance Machine caters to weddings, proms, anniversaries, homecomings and wherever there is a need for dancing. Jeff is also a sound designer and offers that service to customers as well. He designs and installs sound systems.

Cris admits to taking on the business end, such as accounting, and credits Jeff as the total package manager as he does the designing, installing and even DJs himself.

She refers to Audio Connections as a mom-and-pop shop. She is proud of the store’s nature. Cris and Jeff are married with three boys.

“It allows me to be a partner in business with my husband and still be a mom,” she said.

The rental side of Audio Connections is what frequents customers. There is a large range of events for which Audio Connections has provided services for, ranging from basic business meetings to cage fighting events.

“Basically if someone needs lighting, sound or audio we can do it. We have done cage fighting events, cooking shows and the Brookings CASA Event,” Cris said.

College students account for 75 percent of the store’s business Cris said. The accessories are the biggest item sold to college-age customers, while purchasing guitars or other instruments is a popular choice. A large part of Audio Connections’ business comes from college-age students moving on from the instruments they learned to play on, usually loaned from a parent or grandparent.

Churches are another big customer for the store.

“People enjoy and benefit from good sound,” Cris said. “When you provide people with a product that makes them happy, it’s rewarding to be a part of it.”

As far as being involved with the SDSU campus, Audio Connections has done the wiring and sound for the Wellness Center. In the past, Audio Connections has also helped with sound for the University Program Council events.

Audio Connections tries to fulfill a role of community supporters as much as they possibly can. They have donated sound equipment to organizations like the American Cancer Society and March of Dimes. They also have had their products sold at silent auctions and rent equipment for dances that the Boys and Girls Club puts on every month for young kids, grades 6-8, at a discounted price.