In December we travelled to Breda, Holland and Pier 15 Skatepark to join up with skateboarders from all across Europe at the finals of the Vans Shop Riot. The main draw of this competition is the links it both creates and nurtures across the European skateboarding community, a yearly celebration of the work shops do to keep the European scene alive. As such we decided to speak to three of the skater owned shops (SOS) to find out what this competition means to them, as well as some of the wider economic issues that skater owned shops face. Read on for the thoughts of Bana, Burnside and Flame Shop.
Images provided by Vans.
When did you open your shop and what is its history?
Jose Marques: Back in 1992, I took my father’s advice to open a surf shop. Initially it was a small shop with little more than 18 square meters, but different enough to gather a group of loyal customers. The idea was simple, to be a pioneer through gambling on alternative brands in street wear, skate wear, surf wear and some very exclusive products. This idea combined with a very smart sales strategy based on very professional but friendly service, where the customer’s needs always come first, was a hit! The charisma of the store grew quickly and soon people from all over were coming by.
“the truth is nothing will ever substitute the local store”
Why are skater owned shops so important?
I think the difference comes in many ways; we keep the shop fresh and it always has a good vibe, we bet on new and exclusive products, our costumer relations are tailored and are our priority and we know about every product we sell. But our biggest difference is definitely our costumer management – we want to make sure people are happy and informed.
What’s the best thing about running your own shop?
The best thing is being able to work on what I like and what gives me pleasure.
What do events like the Vans Shop Riot mean for you and your riders?
We are able to interact with skaters and shops from all over and it’s always a blast to be able to exchange knowledge and crazy stories with people who have the same love for skateboarding
What do you think the future will be like for skater owned shops?
It’s true that all brands (at least the wise ones) are moving towards a model based more on online sales over anything else, but the truth is nothing will ever substitute the local store. That friendship you make with the staff, that feeling you get when touching the product, trying it out for a perfect fit… it’s a different experience, meaning it’s unlikely it will ever be surpassed by digital.