It’s Cal taking over the intro today as Ben is busy snapping up top brand after top brand for the new store. I’ll let you into a little secret, I’ve seen the brand list so far and it’s insane…can’t wait for you guys to find out what CLOBBERCALM SUPPLY CO. is going to be stocking!
Always mega honoured when a peep answers the bell to get a ‘Denim Map’ in the pipeline but tonight’s, extra so, as Suzie aka @denimbitch handed her’s in quite a while ago and has been patiently waiting for us to post it. Well, good things come to…you guys, essentially. It’s a doozy but seeing as how Suzie is involved plus @standardandstrange it’s no wonder.
It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon in the UK so just dragged myself out of the pub (new local) back to my shiny (for now) new flat and you lucky so-and-so’s would normally get me waxing lyrical for paragraph after paragraph but…
MEET THE STORE
On this Thursday, a day before the annual Denimbruin event in the Bay, Neil Berrett sat down with me to talk about the store. We had been trying to schedule a get together for over a month, Neil has been out of town, at shows and at NY market. Neil made time even though he is still getting over being sick and found out someone in his family had passed away that day. This is just the kind of person he is, very humble, easy to talk to, a real stellar genuine person.
So he offers me a beer, pops it open for me and we sit in the big leather chairs in the store (he sipped on water the whole time).
1. How did the store come to life? What’s the history?
Jeremy Smith, the co-owner and I were thinking of opening a store, we wanted to have retail space for our cycling jersey company. We were both getting haircuts at the barbershop in Temescal Alley and looked around and saw a space, very small, 200sq ft we thought we could open up a specialized cycling jersey store. The landlord told us she would prefer for it to be more than just jerseys, to open a retail space with more options. It only took us 5 mins to think we should put things WE like in the store. We rented that 200sq ft store with only $4000. Half of it, we spent just on installing the window. The other build-out was with our own hands. We borrowed inventory from Tellason, Taylor Stitch, Inside Line Equipment and BAM! We had a store! We had an opening party and sold a bunch of stuff. One stack of jeans turned into 2, that turned into 3, and 4 and so on. Originally, we only wanted to have US made goods, but couldn’t find the right outerwear. We found Private White V.C., and really liked their stuff, and decided to branch out to European and Japanese brands with the focus on denim that we loved. We wanted to carry the best brands we could…Fullcount, Momotaro, Orslow, Naked & Famous, Rising Sun…
We tried to focus on the clothing that was really well made, with interesting textiles and a great fit. We were originally drawn to Private White VC since their stuff is impeccably made, Eat Dust, with their heavyweight denim, jackets and tailoring. Now our store has evolved into what I like to call “re-interpretations of Americana from around the world”. Some of the brands that encompass our motto really well are Indigofera, Monitaly, Real McCoys, First Pattern, Kapital. All take really great American military or European military styles and make them modern for today.
After the 200sq ft store, we felt like we needed to expand, so we took over the store next to us and it made our store 450sq ft. A much improvement from the micro store. We had a big dressing room, more storage, but it still wasn’t enough. Clothing, boots, boxes were stacked everywhere, up to the ceiling!
Almost 2 years ago, we found a place in the same block, owned by the same landlord with 1200sq ft. It’s directly on Telegraph Ave. in Oakland, facing the street with lots of visibility. Now we can breathe! It’s also one of the oldest buildings in Oakland, a former Italian-American neighborhood. Our current store used to be a well-known hardware store, the metal sign is still hanging! And, we were told, there used to be a brothel upstairs!
Our store is roomy, we have office space upstairs, a bathroom, storage, on the main street and the build-out turned out really well. I had no idea this would all work out! Retail is such a risk, but it’s been amazing and I wouldn’t change a thing.
2. What are your top 3 bestselling items in the store? And why do you think this is?
– Red Wing 2966 Klondike Engineer Boots / They are the best engineer for the money. The leather is the best! The design is so good! They break in beautifully and the price is right.
– The Real McCoys N-1 Deck Jacket / It’s so good, the alpaca lining, it’s heavyweight, but so versatile. You can wear it in California with a t-shirt under it or layer it in the winter in Chicago.
– Circle of Friends (COF Studio) M2 denim and Momotaro Natural Taper / both have great fits, they feel great right when you put them on. Both have subtle details, both are not too slim, not too roomy and both look great in the ass. The COFs are so easy to wear, lighter weight, slimmer cut. The Momos people love the story about Momotaro. Most guys come in wanting a great pair of jeans and a lot of times, these 2 work best.
3. What’s the bestselling brand overall?
Suzie: Neil looks on his phone to see the point of sale on the cloud! Ha!
The Real McCoys
It’s upper scale leather jackets are amazing, but what sells really well for us are their knits, sweatshirts, hoodies, chinos. They seem really basic, but they aren’t. They have re-made American classics so very well. Sometimes people have no idea about the brand, but once they pick up the garment, they can sense the quality. The closer you get, the more you see all the details RMC puts into their clothing. The finish, the execution, there’s nothing like it! They are the best!
After RMC, it’s a 4-way tie between Rogue Territory, 3sixteen, Indigofera and Freenote. Before we had The Real McCoys, Rogue Territory was our best selling brand.
4. In your personal opinion what’s the best 3 pieces that you offer? Your favourites?
All of these together make up the perfect outfit for me.
5. What the best thing about working at Standard & Strange?
It fucking happened! We have a beautiful store, the people who work here are so good. It’s amazing feeling you’re a part of something you created, but it’s bigger than you. We want to be here and we love this stuff, we get to teach people about great brands and we have such cool customers. We have all developed great friendships with the customers and vendors and it’s enriched my life. I could’ve never predicted that. It’s also fun to work on your own business. It’s like trying to solve a puzzle that keeps changing. Sometimes you’re ahead of it, sometimes you’re behind, but you are forced to adapt. The undercurrent that carries everything…the people.
MEET THE REVIEWER
NAME: Suzie Rudloff aka @denimbitch
1. How does the store feel when you first walk in? What springs to mind?
The front door is basically always open, it’s a vast store, but friendly and warm. You’re always greeted in a nice way from someone, either Brandon, Mari, Gen, David, Neil or Jeremy. I really do feel like S&S is part of my community. A lot of times, I’m greeted with a hug and then asked if I want a beer or a water. The clothes are displayed so neatly on the walls or on a large table in the middle of the floor. My favorite part is sitting in the big leather chairs near the two changing rooms and sipping on a beer while chatting it up with the employees and/or the customers. A lot of us have gotten to know each other, even the customers, and while one of us is there, another one will show up. Often, I hang out, for probably far too long, might or might not buy something, but have a great, relaxing time.
2. Where does the shop’s product originate from?
Everywhere, but only quality. Originally it was only US made clothing and accessories, but now, you can find things from Japan, England, Italy, more.
3. Describe the customer service?
It really doesn’t get any better! This is one of the biggest reasons I shop at S&S. Not only are you greeted, and certainly not pressured, but you get honest, thoughtful dialog from the employees. They are always ready with the next size or anticipating if you might need something else. I’ve never had to pop back out of the dressing room if something doesn’t fit. They are on it! It really is about developing a relationship.
And I’ve noticed when I’m there, they are fielding questions/concerns over the phone or via email from people who have bought stuff from outside of the Bay Area. They work really hard to make sure customers are satisfied. It’s incredibly important to them that people are happy.
4. What’s the product selection like?
It’s HUGE! I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many quality brands in one location. Really. They curate their shop so well. With the store growing in size over time, so has the inventory, and it’s hard to go through it all in one visit. They put one size of the shirt/denim on the rack on the walls, then the other sizes of the same shirt/jeans up above stacked neatly. The employees will get the size you need by climbing up cool ladders that move along the walls.
5. How are the prices?
They range. There is something for everyone. Although people might be used to paying less for jeans, these are jeans that last a million times longer than the average department store jeans. And they fade, look amazing and you can even get your jeans hemmed at S&S, they have a Union Special that Roy Slaper gifted them.
If any of you fellow blue bloods, like Suzie, have a store either close or far that you are enamoured with then feel free to give us a shout. Now that the features are flying out we want to keep pinning to ‘The Denim Map’, either with a feature like this one or just by adding to the Denim Map page that will be set up soon. Hit us up in the comments, through our Contact page or via our various Instagram accounts and stay close peeps.