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The Vines Supply Co Skateshop’s Paul Vale Talks Opening A Physical Store & Building A Community

In Solihull, just outside Birmingham, is The Vines Supply Co, a skateshop that aims to build and support its local community. Whether its by stocking local brands, collaborating with artists, hosting skate events, or by inviting window shoppers and browsers in for a game of pool, The Vines Supply Co is out to cemente itself as the go-to place for local skaters. We spoke to managing director Paul Vale to see what they’ve been getting up to.

Please give us a brief history about your store.
The shop was started in 2014 as online-only and had a USP of selling UK based brands only. It was just known as TVSC and we grew it as a part-time business until 2019 when the decision was made to go full time. To aid in the growth of the business, complementary international brands were added to the portfolio and the current name of ‘The Vines Supply Co’ was introduced. Now 5 years deep, we continue to support the local skate scene by organising events and liaising with the council to improve facilities. We’ve also got a sweet little setup in the shop for all the lurkers, with an Xbox and a pool table being the highlights! The Vines Supply Co XboxWhat have been the biggest lessons learned since opening?
The single biggest lesson I would say has been regarding trading online. The only constant is change, we’re constantly introducing new technology to try to stay with the times. By trial and error we’ve been able to compete with online stores much bigger than ourselves but it’s something that always needs working on and tweaking. There’s no more set it and forget it! We’re always trying to learn and make small improvements to what we do, it’s never quick fixes but things that have to be worked on over time.

How have you changed your business over the last few years?
We’ve made a conscious decision to concentrate marketing efforts on our own online sales rather than relying on third party retailers like Amazon and eBay. I think in today’s climate it’s essential to be making the margins where you can and to build a loyal customer base that you can rely on, ones who’ll keep coming back to you. The costs for attracting new customers online are getting unsustainable, so we’re trying to make sure we treat every online customer the same way we would someone walking through the doors. That’s the only way to create loyalty. The Vines Supply Co decks

Which brands are flying right now and why?
On the clothing side, Polar Skate Co, Butter Goods, Dime MTL have been killing it for us for quite a long time. They both appeal to a wide range of people, including non-skaters. Their graphic designs are always bang on and they all have a strong denim and accessories line that complements the tops. We’ve also seen Helas starting to make some real strides as well. On footwear New Balance Numeric is our strongest but Adidas is starting to do well too. We’re only on our second season with Adidas; our stock has just come in-season so we’re stoked to see how it does when we have forward-order stock levels in.

And which British brands have really performed since you started the business?
On the hardware side Palace still flies out. The prices are still super affordable and the names so big now that people just starting out recognise it so will be drawn to them. We have a new local brand called GVNMNT too and their designs have been so on point in the few seasons we’ve carried it. Its been really encouraging since we took it so we’re hyped to see where it goes.

Which product categories are selling the best so far this season?
Tees are still by far the best seller but we’ve had a massive uplift in online sales of footwear (the algorithm must like something we’ve done!). Coming into the warmer weather we’ve started to see sunglasses sales coming through, we did really well with the last year so we’ve ordered quite a few in this year! All our brands that we carry sunnies for did well, it was hard to choose between Glassy, Vans, Santa Cruz and GVNMNT as sell through was strong on all of them! The Vines Supply Co clothing

What are you hoping/expecting to see in product lines from brands for next season?
It’s super niche but everyone seems to be back on the zip hoodie hype at the minute! We’d also love to see prices settle down for a few seasons now as its been so up and down (slightly) for a while now.

How much of your business is done online? What are the benefits of having a physical shop over simply having an online store?
Our sales channel mix is about 60% online now. We think its vital to have a physical hub for the local community. It helps the scene to grow and flourish. The high street seems to be at a crossroads at the minute so were happy be playing our part in keeping that independent scene alive.

What marketing tools are you using to keep your shop name out there?
We’ve been trying to put on events that people are interested in and creating content around them. Its got us some decent viewing figures on the socials so its definitely make the brand name more well known. We’ve run printed ads in some of the skate magazines as well so that will help to increase awareness.

How can brands help you to sell more product?
We’d love to see some of the brands go down the Nike SB route, take some of their bestselling product and create exclusive collaborations that are only available in physical skate stores. A New Balance Numeric 550 with a hyped collab would be sick!

How did you be celebrate your 5th anniversary?
We had a big party in store with all the local homies. We did a raffle, had cake, had a DJ in store and drank some beers. It was rad!

120 Smith sunglasses
120 Sun Tribe sunscreen
120 Aphex sunnies
120 Wave Hawaii  surf robes and ponchos and sunglasses
119 New Balance Skate Footwear
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