Anyone who talks about the demise of the specialist snowboard store would do well to take a look at Invert. After three years of running their business as an online-only operation, James Cranston and Chantelle Davies opened up a brick-and-mortar shop in Newquay, Cornwall earlier this year – and they haven’t looked back…
This article first appeared in Whitelines Issue 116.
What’s the story behind Invert?
We weren’t actually looking to start a business, but the opportunity came up and we just took it. It wasn’t really a planned thing, it was very spontaneous. We started out with only £1000 that we’d earned off our last season, and since then the whole growth of the business has been completely organic.
How do you set up a business like yours with only a grand?
A shop closed down in Plymouth, so we bought some of their liquidated stock – a few jackets, a few beanies, basically just what they had left. We sold that online and used the money to buy some boards off Matt Burt from Ride, who lived down the road. Over the last few years we’ve been constantly turning over stock to get to the level we’re at. It’s been a tough three years, and we’ve had to scrimp a little to keep going, but other than a little credit card debt we don’t owe anything. Most of our accounts are on credit now.
Why set up shop in Newquay? Is that where you were living already?
Yeah. Also we noticed that there were only a couple of shops in Cornwall that did snowboards – one is a general sports equipment shop, and the other is an outdoor shop. They mostly stock all-mountain boards, and don’t really have anything for those who ride domes and dry slopes. So I thought that was the way to go.
Did anyone try to dissuade you from opening a physical location?
Both of us have parents that worked in the surf industry for some time, and they ran shops. They tried to steer us away from having one, but I feel that with snowboarding, you can’t beat going into a real shop and speaking to the staff – especially when it comes to boots.
Is there much of a local scene?
We’ve got Plymouth dryslope about an hour away, but they’re actually building one in Truro just after Christmas. It’ll be about 20 minutes away – I can’t wait! Cornwall’s also got a lot of seasonal workers. Towards the end of the summer a lot of people started coming to us, talking about going away for the winter and what stuff they want. We’re getting more of an idea of just how big Cornwall’s snowboard scene is.
What gear have you got your eye on for this year?
I’m really excited about trying this season’s Rome Mod Rocker. I used to have one and loved it, so I’ll be testing the new one out in Val D’Isere in February.
Given that you work alongside Chantelle and you guys have two kids, how do you juggle the business and your family life?
Luckily the shop has a downstairs area, so if we both have to be in then we can look after the kids at the same time. Over the summer we do festivals as well, so Charlotte stays in the shop with our daughter while I take our little boy on the road with me. It’s hard work, but we see the big picture of what we want to achieve, and we’re determined to make it happen.