INTERVIEW BY: JOHANNES SCHÖN
PHOTOGRPAHY BY: ROBERT CHRIST
& Cristian Granada Cardona
What a wild time to open a store. Props for the courage to go for it. How have the first days of opening your own skate shop been?
Oh yes, that’s true. What a wild time to open a store and start your own business but also a good time to prove yourself and what you are made. If we survive this time, I think the future is going to be bright. Thanks for the props. The first days were good, the people are actually really hyped about the shop, and it feels good. We are thankful for the support in the first days.
How long has this idea been around and for how long have you been working on it actively?
The idea of opening a skate shop has been around for years, maybe 6-7 years? I don’t exactly know how long but something like that. The idea emerged at the wedding of a good friend. Where my business partner and I were having just a few beers and talked shit. Reminiscing about “Vibes” skate shop, where we used to work back in the days. The shop closed its doors almost 10 years ago, but it was my first job here in Germany and at some point, we said: “Ey let’s do a skate shop together, that would be great”. But you know, we were a little bit drunk and forgot about it, so last year we started talking about it again and we have been working actively on it since January of this year.
Was it a conscious decision to open it now that everything sloooowly seems to open up? Or have things just taken their time until you were ready?
Actually, we wanted to open in April but because of the Covid-19 restrictions it took much longer to get the whole paperwork done but in the end, it wasn’t that bad. The timing was just good for us, we just got lucky.
What are the challenges of opening a skate shop during a global pandemic?
The challenges… where do I start? Man, there are a lot of challenges for opening a shop during a global pandemic, but I would say the worst was getting the paperwork done because nobody was working and most of the time it was through emails because you could not reach anyone on the phone. It was really stressful.
Did you have problems getting the product?
Getting the product was and still is super hard! We still have no shoes in the shop, only 2 brands were cool with us since the first time we contacted them. Shout out to you guys! The first drops are coming in October, but as I said a few shoe brands were not that cool to us, which is crazy because most of them are always talking about supporting skate shops and this and that but at the end of the day it’s all about business and that’s the part of the game you have to deal with, but it’s ok.
All the distributions in Germany were also really cool, friendly and ready to help us out. Big ‘Thank You’ to all of them. One love! I also want to thank my man Phil Anderson from Stuttgart, he knows why.
Can you go into detail about what “not being cool to you” would mean in that case?
I don’t really want to waste my energy with bad vibes you know? Maybe I gave you the wrong definition because on the phone they were cool and shit, telling me what a nice concept and good idea we had, you know? Blablabla. But then you hear from a third person what they said to that person, it’s like they are telling you in your face how nice you are, but when you turn around, they say the opposite. But I’m trying to learn to be fine with it. I think it is part of the business.
Which shoe brands are you carrying, or will you carry very soon?
As for now, as I said, we don’t sell any shoes till October, when we get our first drops from NB Numeric and Last Resort AB. Besides that we are right now in conversations with Adidas, so that is pretty much all brands we have yet. We will see what the future will be about.
It seems like shops are having a good time right now supplying all the people who just started skating or are back at it again. Are there a lot of beginners looking to buy a freshy from what you can tell so far?
Oh absolutely! In these past 4 weeks, I sold a good amount of stuff to them and met a lot of people who are back on the board for the first time in like ten years and that’s crazy. I like it because they are really hyped on it, kind of like kids haha. Everything is new to them, same for a good friend of mine. He stopped for almost 12 years and re-started 4 months ago. He is in his 40’s and is more motivated to skate than I am. Always sending videos and stuff via Instagram, which started using Instagram because of skateboarding, haha.
The only reason to have the app, if there is any. The shop seems to be very well located within the city’s shopping district. How did you land this piece of real estate?
Man, I don’t want to sound arrogant, but we are located in the best part of Dusseldorf. As you said, we are in the old town part, which is also the shopping district near the Rhein river and the new spot at the Schauspielhaus. We just got super lucky because my ex-boss is the owner of the house, where the shop is. Some day he came to me and said something like: “I don’t know what I should do with the location” and I was just like: “ey give it to me!” and he was like: “really?” haha. I think at first he thought I was joking but I repeated myself and that I am going to open my own skate shop. He liked the idea, he also used to skate and was like let me think about it, one week later he came back to me and said: “ok let’s do it!” That was last year in September on the same day I called my business partner because he lives in LA and I was like: “Ey I got the perfect location for the shop!” That’s basically how everything went.
Meant to be! Dusseldorf was/is kind of flying under the radar. SKTWK brought some good attention to the city.
100 %. SKTWK was a good thing for the city, it was nice to see so many people from other parts of the country skating around the city. A little booster for the city. The skate scene is so big, like never before and it’s still growing. It feels good to see so many new skaters and especially lots of girls skating lately. Just amazing to see, a really good thing for sure. Maybe one day we can put a girl on the team. I like the idea.
In 2021 with online shopping dominating retail, what role does a physical skate shop play in your opinion?
A physical shop plays a huge role in my opinion, maybe even the most important role.
I think this year is going to be really good on the physical part because people are tired of shopping online and want to go out to the stores and shop there, have a little conversation, have a beer, or watch a skate video and grab the new products. Do you know what I mean? This whole pandemic problem is doing that people appreciate the little things they took for granted. The people in Dusseldorf never hold together and I want to change that and that’s why the shop was the best idea! Finally, there is a place where everybody is welcome and can come together, and not only people from Dusseldorf! I would love to see skaters from other cities and other countries when this corona madness is finally over.
Is there a shop team yet?
Yes, we already have a little team! There are two shop riders, Aladin Cabart und Ruben Lücke. I have another 2 guys in mind but for now only Ali and Ruben. We also have two ambassadors Roberto Cuellar and Robert Christ. That’s basically the family for the moment.
What are your plans as soon as everything goes back to normal?
We have a lot of plans but first of all, we are working on a clip for the shop! The boys are filming and stacking footage. I want something like a little Düsseldorf mix with footage from the homies to show Düsseldorf skateboarding and to put the city on the map again.
Maybe events too! We can do something together with the almaros boys or Souljah griptape guys. Two nice brands from Dusseldorf, that we have been friends with for years, we will see.
Can’t wait to watch that! Anything you’d like to add?
I want to thank a lot of people that were always supporting me and supported us with the shop. I want to thank the CENTRAL Family: Ali, Ruben, Robert Christ, and my Latin connection Roberto representing CENTRAL out there in Berlin (stay tuned for some future projects with him) and for sure to my Business partner and also good Friend Ante out there in L.A. See you soon bro! Big thanks to my mother, grandmother, and my girl for always having my back. Shout out to Philipp from Lobby, for giving me some good advice without even knowing me! My man Phil Anderson (THWTH) we know why. Chris for helping us with the amazing location and also shout out to Tim and Stephan for doing a great job with the shop! Big thanks to my man Philipp Muckelmann for all he has done for us, Marcel Kühnemund aka Monty for always giving us shoutouts, haha. He also has the best coffee in the city! Check it out @weirdspace___. To my bro Toni Askitis aka @asktoni the best sommelier out there and also skater, if you like good wine check him out, and stay tuned we are planning to do a Wine collab! Some good Riesling from the Mosel. Big thanks to all distributions and also big thanks to you guys for this interview. Hope to see you soon in person, stay happy and stay healthy, Cheers!
Well, that’s one hell of a shout out! Appreciate the graditute. All the best for the future!