We talk with Sam Stuart from Shredz Shop, "the little skateshop that could."
Despite it’s proximity to Calgary, Cochrane is in fact a small Alberta town. If you were a skateboarder passing through on a family vacation, you might expect to find run down ramps in a tennis court and some sort of mountain bike shop with a few skateboards in the back. In reality, you’d find a great concrete park and a skateboard shop with everything a discerning skateboarder could ask for. Shredz has such a great product offering and reputation that it’s drawing skateboarders from Calgary out to the country to pick up their next deck. We spoke with shop owner Sam Stuart to find out how “the little skateboard shop that could” actually does it.
Give me the pertinent details on Shredz.
I guess the first shop started in '04 in Sylvan Lake. I was working at that one for a bit, and then they wanted to open a new location and offered me to be a part of that. So, in 2007, we opened the Cochrane location. The goal with it was to try and come in and build a good skateboard community in a small town, because that's something that was always close to me, living out in Sylvan Lake, the middle of nowhere Alberta.
Was the park already built in Cochrane when you opened?
Yeah, that was actually like one of the main reasons we came here; like we were like looking at places where we could do another shop, and Cochrane was the one where a lot of people were talking about it.
Do you see a lot more people skateboarding in Cochrane than when you first opened 10 years ago?
Yeah, there’s definitely a strong scene here. We have really good young kids coming up, which is always exciting to see, because a few years ago we maybe didn't have that, and it kind of worries you when you don't have group of young kids coming up.
Are you selling a lot boards to first-time skateboarders?
We sell a crazy amount of first-time skateboards.
Why do you think that is?
We do a ton to promote that stuff. We do skateboard camps with the Town of Cochrane every year, and basically I force a few of our team dudes to take a week of their vacation time to help me coach it. So we partnered with the town, and so it's like one of their summer camps, and we show up and we volunteer to teach kids.
So we're talking all this kid talk, but when I look at like your website, or your Instagram, you guys have a pretty on-point product offering for a more mature skater. Is Cochrane that hip?
It’s not like everyone that walks in the door wants that stuff. We have 50 per cent of our customers that are just buying like a Volcom logo tee, you know, or something like that. I think because Cochrane is so close to Calgary that people are pretty on trend. The trends move 10 times faster than they did even five years ago, you know? Like Bronze will post something on Instagram, and I'll have 12-year-olds coming and asking for Bronze stuff that day, you know, which blows my mind.
Do you have many people coming from Calgary to shop at Shredz?
We have a ton of that. Especially skateboard guys, especially that customer that you're talking about, the guy that's on trend. Like if we do a good job promoting that stuff, we get a ton of customers coming out. I'd say a good portion of our board sales are to people from Calgary.
Why do you think that is? Calgary has some big shops. Why do you think people come out to little Shredz in little Cochrane?
Well, we have a few brands that aren't available in Calgary, like I don't think FA is available in Calgary anymore. Another thing too, is like not bashing anyone, but I am always out skateboarding, so I know all the skateboarders. People are buying skateboards from their friends. So, yeah, I have people that drive up to buy skateboards from me, because they don't want to go and buy it from some random guy.
Interview by Leo Hayes
Photos by Liam Glass