Earlier this month, Birmingham based independent surf and skate shop, The Vines (TVSC.co to you and me), joined the Sameway roster. Family run and with a strong connection to both the local scene and the UK industry, The Vines stands for more than your average retailer.
Committed to environmentally conscious products and supporting UK grassroots brands, The Vines also plan on donating a proportion of their profits to selected charities Surfers Against Sewage and Live and Breath Skateboarding. We caught up with Founder Paul Vale to get the inside scoop…
Where did the idea for The Vines originally come from?
I was working in the industry as an agent for various surf and skate brands, after a stint in retail in the local area, when I realised around 85-90% of the brands around were Australian or American. That’s when I thought things should be different and set up The Vines to showcase UK brands. Almost 5 years on and we’ve gone from small online retailer with me part time, to a large loyal online following and our first bricks and mortar store in Solihull in March 2019. I’m now dedicating all of my time to The Vines, and it feels pretty good!
What’s your ethos and vision for The Vines? What sets you apart?
Amongst the sea of big corporate stores, we’re swimming against the tide. We’re a family run independent, completely connected to the surf and skate lifestyle, and dedicated to supporting the local scene. We like to think of ourselves as early adopters, working with game changing brands and supporting them in an all-in kind of way. We’re totally immersed in the scene, not just viewing it from above, and that will never change.
How has The Vines evolved?
Originally we started out with 70% surf products and 30% skate products on the online store. Over time, this has evolved to a more even split, but the store at Solihull sells almost exclusively skate lifestyle and hardware to meet the needs of that local community.
Can you tell us more about your new store?
Until now, Solihull didn’t have a skate shop. Kids (and adults) would have to go into Birmingham, a 35 minute drive away, to Ideal just to find a decent place to buy hardware and threads. So we’re filling that gap and giving the local scene what they need. Much like everywhere in the UK, there’s a pretty big skate scene here and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. So that’s promising for us!
What’s unique about the Birmingham skate scene?
To be honest, it’s pretty similar to elsewhere in the UK. It’s got a friendly, inclusive vibe and there’s definitely way more kids skating than even 5 years ago. I think this just shows how mainstream skating has really become. The only thing that stands out for Birmingham is that the skate community can be quite insular. We see all these home grown brands coming through like Skate Cafe from Bristol, but they’re a little more close knit here. Hopefully we’ll see some Birmingham skate brands get out there and break through in the next few years.
What favourite brands can we find out TVSC.co right now?
I’m really stoked on the new Deus Ex Machina collection, and Levis Skateboarding is really cool right now. Thasher continues to be our best seller – it’s kind of mad!
Can you tell us more about your involvement with UK boardsports charities?
For as long as the business has been running, I’ve wanted to give back to the boardsports industry in the UK. We have something really special in the UK and I think it’s important to support that where we can. In 2017, we planned on giving 100% of our profits to charity. That year ended up a little lean, with only £250 profit, but it’s set in motion an ongoing commitment to donating a proportion of our profits to carefully chosen charities. Down the line, we’re looking forward to supporting Surfers Against Sewage and Live & Breathe Skateboarding, two causes close to our hearts.
You mentioned Surfers Against Sewage, are you taking steps to reduce your personal environmental footprint?
Absolutely, The Vines are really proud to be working with some incredible brands, and it’s always been our agenda to work on our carbon footprint through the products that we stock. From supporting environmental charities, working with likeminded brands and stocking eco-conscious products, we hope to do our bit in changing the landscape of the boardsports retailer. Everyone in the industry is starting to think about the impact of their actions and we’re happy to be a part of the evolution!
What’s your favourite brand story or product that you’ve bought into for this summer?
I really love the environmental element of the new products coming through. One brand that we’ve supported from the off and continues to go from strength to strength is Riz Boardshorts. Their boardshorts are made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and their fabric feel and prints are so on point. And they’re also printed in the UK with safe water based inks. Not only do they have a really high quality product but theres a super cool story behind the brand ethos. Right now we’re also taking part in their £1 of every boardshorts sale goes to the Marine Conservation Society – another good cause worth getting behind!
Newest brands we should keep our eyes peeled for?
We’ve just started stocking Skateboard Cafe, the epic UK grassroots brand from Bristol. With some of the best UK skate talent out there on their team, the brand stands for so much more than donut prints and graphic decks. I’m pretty excited to be able to stock niche UK brands and continue to work on our original ethos and vision to support local. On the horizon we’ve got Hélas, a french skate brand, joining TSVC. Graphic prints and bold street style, they’re one to look out for.