Keeping our ear to the ground for outstanding performing retailers is usually sufficient, however for our 100th issue we put the vote out to the brands. And the winners of our 100th issue, your 2020 Snowboard Retailer of the Year is S’Brett from Mannheim in Germany.
Tell us about S’Brett.
Firstly, a massive thank you to everybody who gave us the vote to become snowboard shop of the year and thanks to you guys for the feature. Knowing the snowboard scene and being in the business for some decades, the owner and daddy of S’Brett ‘Simon’, had the idea to create a family-like core shop in 2011. Roughly a year later at the start of the 2012/2013 season, with his wife Karolina (mamma and the economic backbone of the store), he opened the doors of the industrial-looking store in the centre of Mannheim. With some luck and coincidence the shop family grew and over time Mirko, Nina, Andi, Kyran and Tobi joined, as well as Nico and Tommy. Some started while studying, some because of their pure passion for the sport and some because of the shop vibe. Even though some of them have a full-time job, family is family and you just stick around on the side.
Congratulations on winning our 100th retailer profile, voted for by European snowboarding brands. Why do you think you won?
To be honest, we don’t even know why! We are just doing our thing – nothing more, nothing less. We love what we do, and we do it with passion paired with know-how and not taking ourselves too seriously. Maybe that’s what our customers and partners like about us and the way we are run the shop. The fact that we have friendship-like relationships with customers, as well as with our partners in the industry, gives us the chance to give the most honest and reliable feedback. We also love taking risks and giving smaller and more independent brands a chance! Everything you find in the shop is a fine selection of goods that every staff member is able to identify with. That’s what we try to transfer to our customers’ minds. And if that doesn’t work in the first place, we always have a filled liquor-dispenser snowboard which really opens minds.
How do you give back to snowboarding?
Snowboarding is, at the point where each person needs to be treated the same way and everybody needs to be welcome. We love having the old-schoolers around, because they need their hardboot parts. They’re gonna bring their kids, who want to get a core-brand snowboard and hike the park all day. In the high season, you’ll find fresh waffles in the store, waxing workshops are provided for free and once a year, we have the S’Brett-Games, an event with now 800-1000 people, which we host along with Ingo and our friends from the Ski Hütte Maxdorf and the local ice hockey arena.
How has the snowboard retail game changed in recent years and what are you doing to keep up?
We try to keep it transparent and honest, with our customers and brands. S’Brett is 100% offline and we don’t do tonnes of work on social media. Sure, there are often better prices online nowadays, but as a store with a door you need to be creative, open-minded and there are some great concepts. We just try to live up to our vibe, drink some booze with the customer, have a little nerd-talk on the side, and we get huge support from our brands. We also have a lot of friends outside the industry who support us to make us unique. For example, our collab skate decks with Jim Beam, which are limited and only available in our store. And there is more to come! Big ups for our partners, without you we have nothing to sell and thanks for believing in us!
Doing anything innovative to embrace technology in-store?
For us, the key is that we don’t sell something we wouldn’t ride or use ourselves. This season we have, for example, snowboards from 16 different brands in the shop. Every board standing in the store is positively tested by as at least someone from our team. And it’s the same with the rest of the products. All the key players here are tech-nerds and there are no snow trips without testing gear. That’s our way of keeping up with the new trends and innovations and it keeps things interesting for us.
What are the biggest threats and opportunities facing the snowboard industry at present?
Maybe there’s nothing new to say, every year it’s the same. In our opinion, the industry needs to keep an eye on the price development, overproduction and big players. If prices and margins are screwed up it will be impossible for us small independent stores to keep up the vibe and the scene, because no online store and big player will provide that for the future of snowboarding. And we all need to keep an eye on our planet.
Any views on how current trade shows could adapt to suit the industry better?
Trade shows and brands need to show more face again. But not just for retailers and shops, for the public away from the slopes. Here in Mannheim, in the middle of Germany, we have to drive for hours to get to the mountains and we still have enough snowboard enthusiasts travelling a long way to our store to satisfy their thirst. If we can all make snowboarding more visible for people outside of the resorts and the core scene, we are able to spread snowboarding, acquire new customers and mainstream sport businesses may well consider selling more snowboarding products. Retailers don’t go to ISPO for some hip marketing party. Turn it around and do cool events for the public, spread the vibe and keep the trade shows for the serious business.
What more could brands do to help snowboard retailers?
Speaking for us other small retailers; keep your word, don’t do sale deals with the big shops in October. Don´t overproduce your product. If it’s good and sold out, people will come next year for it. Sometimes less is more. On the positive side; keep up the innovation, there is a tonne of great product around, and quality wise, we are still seeing big improvements from most brands over the last few years.
Again, we want to thank all our customers and supporters, our families and friends, everybody who voted and last but not least, all our brands who have supported us since the day we started working with them – you guys are prime!
Thanks for the interview! We wish everybody – all brands, shops and retailers a successful season and some quality snow. Prost from Mannheim, Germany. The S’Brett Crew