La Vie En Retail with Olliewood Skateshop
For this month’s “La Vie En Retail” we went to the beautiful city of Luxembourg to talk to Tom Jungbluth of Olliewood Skateshop. We took the first train in the morning and even during the “covid time” it’s fully booked. Well, it took us only 2.5hrs from Paris and we’re brainstorming new features with Alex Gumbottom all the way until we arrived. Tom met us at the train station and went downtown to grab a coffee, see the store, all the sights, and talk about sneakers. So after 4 hrs of exploration, we stopped at Scott’s Pub and had a long conversation about everything.
Get yourself a drink or a snack and join us!
Q: First of all, thanks for this day! Please tell our readers something about yourself
A: I’m Tom, I’m 32 years old, I’m Luxembourgish and I love art in all of its forms. I love storytelling, communities, culture, and am doing all that I can to share the knowledge I have with those who are interested in the same things.
Q: So how you joined the Olliewood team? I guess it’s something about You & Dan (the owner of the store), right?
A: Dan and I have been friends for more than 20 years and have since we’ve known each other, been creating stuff. Car events, track days, LXB Cup (The Luxembourg International Skateboarding Cup), sneaker releases and etc.
We have always had the highest respect for each other, which is the driving force for the motivation and success we have in the things we want to achieve.
Bruce founded Olliewood in 1998 and Dan took it over more than 10 years ago — as a kid, I went there to get my stuff to skate.
Once Dan took it over — there couldn’t have been anyone better than him to take it over, the dude is the personification of skateboarding — I as well as many of the Olliewood family members helped to renovate the first location and all of the ones that followed.
Last year, to mark the 20th anniversary of Olliewood, I helped Dan to develop the social media strategy (the dude is working his a** off, day by day, and that for years now). The Olliewood community is at once fascinating and the driving force in us giving back as much as we can day in day out, making it easier to stay motivated and creating something unique for the community.
As I have always been into communications and marketing when it comes to events, it made sense that I would develop a campaign for Olliewood’s 20th-anniversary party. Since then I’ve enjoyed being an honorary part of the team and loved working on special events when it comes to sneaker releases and as a strategist in terms of social media.
Q: You have been doing lots of things for the store… However, let’s talk about social media, you did such a great job growing the IG following. What is the most difficult thing for you when you got started?
A: The most challenging and difficult part of the job is the thing I enjoyed the most, being a leader and influencer for the community while never getting too far away from it. Olliewood has always been a skateshop that was close to its friends and has always been loyal to its customers. To understand and transmit that in your communications as a store can be challenging, but I guess with things like our “Sunday Culture”, our polls related to the interests of our followers, we managed to do a good job and are willing to continue like that. With communications ideas such as the weekly “Sunday Culture”, I wanted to bring awareness and help educate the scene on what others in the global skate community were doing. The skate world is so full of love and respect for one another that this was a great way to help celebrate great work and camaraderie.
Q: Any social media tips & advice/recommendations you can share with other retailers or with those who run a «sneaker business» to change for the better.
A: Be creative. Be different. Reinvent yourself while staying true to your core values.
Once you have figured that out, it is so much fun to communicate with your community and see how they enjoy what you are doing.
If we take the “Civilist — Van” or “Chicago — Game” drops which we organized recently and sadly, we cannot make everyone happy on every single release, but to see people accept the fact they took an L and still smile because they enjoyed our event means we did everything right. To then get tons of messages from all around the globe just to tell us how much people like what we do, shows that we are doing stuff the right way.
Q: What’s the funniest/most hilarious (or just the one you cannot forget) DM you’ve ever got from “customers”?
A: Pretty hard to name one single message, but it is in general pretty funny when people still ask us to get a pair of shoes backdoored and offer hilarious amounts of money.
But I think one of my all-time favorites is when we receive DMs asking for the best birthday gift ever or that they have Covid, might die, and please give me a pair dude.
Q: Your thoughts on skateboarding in the Olympics?
A: Skateboarding becoming an Olympic sport is dividing the people who are into it and I totally understand that. Skateboarding has always been kind of a revolution, which people see disappearing with its acceptance as an “Olympic” sport, but I think this will not be the case.
In my opinion, the skateboard industry will grow, which is something it deserves, after being one of the biggest fashion influencers on many levels for several years. It has been a pioneer to the modern young lifestyle that many young kids out there follow.
At the same time, I am convinced that the revolutionary skaters will always keep that aspect of skateboarding so it will be up to the people and skaters if they want to be part of the more core skate scene or the competitive side of it.
Q: Is SKATEPARK PEITRUSS the most beautiful skating location in the world? What’s your role in that project? How hard it’s to make it possible (build, prepare paperwork &, etc.) in Luxembourg?
A: The Skatepark Péitruss is an amazing architectural piece of art and is definitely one of the most beautiful parks you can find.
I am part of the association founded by Dan and Alex Welter. The guys did an amazing job over more than 10 years to make this park become reality. It has always been their dream to have a skatepark like that in the city. It is because of the hard work they did over so many years that they got in contact with the mayor and now Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, who has been a key figure in making this skatepark happen.
Q: How did you get into sneakers? Your first pair of kicks?
A: I really got into sneakers after I started collecting soccer boots, which then evolved into quite a big passion at a young age.
The first pair I can remember was the Nike Uptempo’s when I was 8.
Q: What does the term «grail» mean for you? And what’s your «grail sneaker»?
A: A grail is something you can’t just find on a random social media group or reselling platform. You have to search for months, even years, to get your hands on your ultimate grail. The chase makes a pair of sneakers your ultimate grail, once you hold them in your hand you know what it actually means.
I have to say that I am lucky to have owned pretty much all of the sneakers I was looking for, for years (Frags, Tom Sachs, Cherrywood, Asics X Colette X LaMJC GLIII OG’s), but one pair is missing… Nike Air Jordan 1 “Chicago” ’85. I hope that one day I will finally call them mine.
Q: Your top 5 sneakers of all-time?
A: Air Jordan 1 “Chicago” 1985's
Air Jordan 1 “Fragment”
My Nike Air Max 1 “Blue Jay” Bespoke
Tom Sachs 2.0
New Balance 997 “ALD” F&F
Q: Oh, yeah, your Bespoke AM1s are so nice. Tell us about the experience at NikeLab and designing your own shoe
A: It was an amazing experience, I enjoyed the approach from Tan and Dino at Mercer Street a lot. The minimalistic but yet so pure approach the guys had can definitely be seen in the final result. I actually had a pretty clear vision in mind for both Bespokes, but the guys at the Labs really guide you when it comes to where to use what materials, and most importantly explain why to use those materials.
Q: Release of the year so far for you and the one you’re waiting for the most
A: Jordan IV “Union” is definitely my personal favorite for this year, I love everything about them. I am waiting for the Jordan III “Fragment” to drop, I like the simplicity of the shoe a lot.
Q: What’s your fav under-radar brand clothing?
A: Definitely Aimé Leon Dore, even though it is not as much under the radar as it was when I discovered it in 2015. I like their approach to design and community and the team itself around the brand is unique and true.
Q: Is there any advice you’d like to share with the younger generation of sneaker-lovers?
A: Buy what you like, wear the shit out of your kicks but clean them right after.
Q: And before you go… Tell us the truth about backdoor 😀
A: I don’t know much about it, people blame us pretty often for it even though it is something we have never done and will never do in the future.
That’s all for Episode #2, hope y’all liked it.
Thanks again, Tom for your time and answers. See you soon in Paris.
With love from sneakerheads from Paris & Hamburg
To sneakerheads, collectors, skaters, retailers & people who just love the kicks worldwide
Peace out ✌️