Emage Skate Shop In Denver, Colorado
After Emage’s orginal owners stepped out to work on other endeavors, Brendan Reimers and his Dad have stepped up to the plate to rebuild and create a visionary skateboard shop. Located in Denver, CO near the Denver Skate Park and in a busy and young community, Emage seeks to provide a chill place for kids of the local skate scene to hang as well as a hip boutique to stock up on the latest from lifestyle brands such as Topo Designs and RVCA. In Denver there is a good mix of shoppers walking around town and young skaters enjoying a day at the park. Reimers may be young owning a skateboard shop at 25, but he thinks his ability to relate to current trends will help lead his shop to success. Although Reimers notes they have some rebuilding to do at Emage since the ownership switch, owning a skateboard shop has been one of his life dreams and he is excited to have his own shot to “do it right.” I got a chance to tour Emage and have an in person interview/ shop tour with Brendan Reimers to talk to him about the changes at Emage and his vision for the shop’s future.
How long have you been in business? 13 years
Have you been with Emage for the last 13 years?
I just bought it; this is like a whole different endeavor for me.
How is it going so far?
It's going good really good.
Is this your first business owning experience?
Oh yeah I mean I'm only 25. Basically we've worked here for a while. The original owners have a POS system that they created and it has kind of blown up over the last couple years and they got pretty busy with that. They came to us, and my dad and me just kind of stepped in. It's pretty cool it's kind of like a "Mom & Pop" situation.
What have been your biggest trials so far as a new business owner?
Restocking the store and getting the vibe back to the community. For a while there wasn't a lot of product coming in and we just kind of had to work for a while. Now people have actually noticed and been like, "Hey it looks a lot different in here." Once we kind of explain the situation to people they say like, "Oh, that makes sense."
How would you describe the local Denver skate scene right now?
Just a bunch of friends, honestly; I mean everybody who skates for every team, we're all just really good friends and we all hang out together you know inside and outside of work. Its really nice that we have a close knit community and stuff instead of like on the east coast it seems so many shops are always fighting with each other and saying, "Those dudes suck." If someone comes in and they say they're going to Boulder I'll be like, "Yo, go check out Satellite talk to my boy JG." If they're like, "Oh well I'm looking for a different style of skateboard or something, "go check out Tony at brothers…" you know. So it's a good close-knit community.
Do you see any of the other stores as competition?
No… we all kind of have our own niche, which is pretty nice. I'd say the most similar shop to ours is Satellite but you know, they are over in Boulder. With 303 they are little bit more of the core/grungy/hesh kind of skater like your "die hard". For us were a little more lax, were a little more into the clothing, lifestyle, I'm really into shoes, so that's something I really like.
Would you consider your shop as a lifestyle shop as well?
Yeah it's like a skate lifestyle boutique, we have snowboards in the mix
Right Now were just out (of snowboarding product) we will be getting our new stuff in for August/ September. We have Capita, Never Summer, Lib Tech; we go pretty deep in the snowboard stuff. But we are pretty selective here. Our big thing is that we all ride all of the product before we decide to bring it in. You know we'll all sit down and discuss this board or this board, and everybody kind of puts their 2 cents in. I've been working at a skate shop for 10 years and I know that your input only goes so far when you're an employee, but I want to make sure my employees have all the input they can. We're all in it together, we're all selling it, so it's stuff you got to know
How would you describe what your staff is like?
Friendly and knowledgeable.
Are they all your friends?
For the most part yeah. Casey the store manager has been working here longer than I have actually. My roommate Ryan also works here. Two other people are roommates as well, Taylor and Taylor, girl and boy. Its very close knit. Another kid, Bucky who has been coming into the shop since he was like 11…he was the little shop kid and now he works here and he's been with the shop the whole 13 years so, it's pretty cool to have someone still that has been around since the beginning.
What brands are you more closely working with and featuring in your shop?
I like to get more of the unknown and up and coming brands. We carry Topo Designs, which are local Colorado backpacks and all that. Anything that has a good backstory to it. You can talk to a customer about something and its not just a tee shirt, its like… that shirt over there is organic cotton with wood buttons. I think that's cool instead of like here's a generic ass shirt that you could get anywhere.
How do you find these brands? Do you go out and look for them or are they coming to you?
I'd say it's more of me and the staff going out and just being involved and just know from what they see, and picking up on the new brands. I noticed a lot of brands don't really care about where they're going, there just like get me in there and throwing product at you. They're always calling and saying, "Is there a buyer in? Can we send you a line sheet?" It's like whatever dude, your just doing the same thing as everybody else. Some of the brands we seek them out a little bit more and I call them up and I'm like, "Hey do you want to do something with me, would you be interested?" Half the time they're like, "Oh shit I didn't know people knew about us!"
Do you guys have a skate team?
Yes we do, there's probably like 5 or 6 kids on there right now. A lot of Denver kids. A lot of kids have just grown up skating for the shop, some for the whole 13 years some who are new, and more little kids on the team just to revamp it up. We're trying to put together a little video over the summer you know to get more involved in the skateboard community, because that's something that I've always been involved with.
Are you a Denver Kid?
I'm not; I'm from Buffalo New York. I like this so much because I never had a skate shop to go to I would just wax a curb in front of my house so I could skate. I used to ride my bike with my backpack and all my gear just to go into town so I always admired being able to hang out in a place like this. My dream, well I like having the opportunity to do that, and do it right. Just make it a place where the kids and community a safe place to kick it
Colton (kid walking around Emage) kicks it all the time he just comes in and he'll go skateboarding later.
Are you guys involved in any skate events around Denver?
Yes and No. There are a couple contests that are coming up. This Native American thing coming up is pretty cool. It's all fundraising to build skate parks in the reservations because there's a big epidemic with alcoholism. They tell all the kids there's going to be a new park and they try to get them all stoked on skateboarding. I think that's at the Denver Park. There is usually a big Volcom contest that goes on there, but its up in like Eerie now. I mean it's been in Denver for like 5 years and I wouldn't want to drive all the way to Eerie for a skate contest. But if it were still here at least your not just going to a skate contest in a po-down town, there's more to do here. Its whatever though.
What have you noticed your girl customer base is like?
Are they coming here for skateboards or are they coming her for clothes?
Clothes, There are apartments upstairs and there are tons of girls up there! What I've noticed is that girls love disposable fashion. Like instead of spending 70 dollars on a top you could spend 30 bucks. And you can wear it a little bit more. I've also noticed some girls kind of go out of their way to come in here we have brands and items that not everyone else has or like at Nordstrom's and stuff like that. I don't know… a lot of stuff you find in malls. We kind of have more different independent brands that are pretty cool. A lot of skate shops don't carry a lot of girls' things and I get that it's a tough demographic but were in a good spot where a lot of girls are walking by.
Are there any brands specifically you are bringing in for women's?
Yes and No. We do a lot of RVCA and Volcom, those are our big ones. I also have this Australian brand called Rhythm that has just kind of more of that Euro/Aussie surf style. Like those high waisted kind of skirts more fine material. I'm no expert (on women's clothes) but that's what I'd say. I want to bring in some other weird brands but its just tough you know, you kind of have to pick and choose your battles. Have you heard of Black Mill? They make like crazy print leggings and they're sweet but they're like a hundred bucks I know a lot of girls who are really stoked on them and you cant get them anywhere else and I think they would do really well here but that's a lot of money that I could put into menswear or shoes or skateboards which is my primary market. Time will tell, I mean we could push more into the women's stuff if there is a market for it. But were trying to be pretty conservative right now as a new business. Were trying to rebuild the store.
What do you mean by rebuilding?
Getting the inventory of the store back up and bringing the vibe back. For a while there were only 10 skateboards on the wall instead of the full amount, it was bare bones. The kids at the park would be like, "Well you can't go to Emage and get a board because they don't have any." Same thing with the clothing, people would say, "Well I'd love to go in there but there just isn't anything there." It is what it is but now it's coming back.
Do you think bringing in the different unique brands that you like to bring in will set you apart as a shop and bring in the kind of customer base you want?
I think so and you know just being involved into the whole process. Not that I'm the end all be all of men's and women's fashion but I think I have a pretty good handle on it because I embrace the newer styles and I kind of know what's going on a bit more than the previous owners who are older. Our target customer is my age so I can relate more.
What is the best part of being a business owner now?
Just being able to work for myself. To do what I love honestly. I just get to wake up come here sell skateboards
Do you take take breaks?
Hmm yeah. Just cruise to the park and stuff its pretty lax. I'm just glad I get to this and further the Denver skateboard community. Just to do it right. It’s everything I have always wanted to do. I don't know how many people I have known over the years that have just been like man we could do this and we could do this. I've talked to countless people who are like you could do this or you could do this. I have a lot of ideas that I'd like to implement where I see fit.
Where do you see Emage going next? Where are you going to be in the future, What is your vision?
My vision is to make this place almost like a destination. I want it to be a staple in the community. I want to go in to street wear as far as having our own clothing and maybe a sub brand or something. Just be more involved with the little skate kids and make them want to be here. I mean sometimes it is annoying to be around little kids. I was that kid and I totally know that they look up to you and everything. These little kids, Colton and his friend Dorian are here all the time. Dorian skates for the team and he comes in here and sweeps. The other morning I came in at 11 walking to work and he's just hanging out waiting for me. I was like, “Dang dude were going to have to get you a key or something man. “I want them to have the right influences and you know mom and dad only go so far… skateboarding is a good outlet. They don't want to be involved in a team sport or something like that. I did it for the same reasons, but you can get into a lot of shit as a skate kid there are a lot of bad influences. I'm not a perfect child but you learn a lot of good life lessons. It's made me the person who I am today and I think I'm not half bad. And if I can help other kid out you know… I did a good job at the end of the day. We want to keep it going and keep it positive and just provide because this is something I love and I want to share my love for it. And if some kid gets a skateboard I know I would really like to skate it makes me 10 times happier. That's what I do it for.