It sure is easy to buy anything online these days. The world of the web (and dark web ;) for that matter) provides unlimited purchasing options. Whatever you want, you can get it. Most of the time we just want to snowboard because it's way more fun than scrolling online and filling up an online basket that you can't afford to check out. But buying a new board is not an investment to be squandered. You're going to ride a board for at least two winters, probably more, so it makes sense to actually look and feel it before you put down the cash. That's why snowboard shops which occupy our physical realm of being – with four walls, doors and windows and hopefully a roof – are more important than ever. They support the little brands that make snowboarding unique and weird and wonderful, so you should do your best to support your local shop and keep the lights on.
That being said, a shop would not survive in this day and age without some form of online presence. It just so happens that GLISSHOP has both and offers one hell of a selection of the finest snowboarding wares our little industry has to offer. So if you live in France, or just happen to speak one of the six languages they operate their website in, you should check out what GLISSHOP has to offer. You won't be disappointed. We hit up Mathieu Remy to find out more about their humble beginnings, their transition through the advent of the internet age and what they offer the average snowboarder. Bricks'n'Motar for the win!
Words: William Sleigh
Glisshop was founded in 1999. What was the motivation to start a shop and how did it all come together?
Well, the website was launched in 1999 but there was an actual brick & mortar shop founded 3 years earlier. The founder, Mr MOREL, felt there was something to do with the Internet. Back in the day, it was just the beginning of it, nobody realised how it was going to change the world. He had the right idea at the right time and began to sell a few skis and snowboards on the freshly launched website. It worked. Long story short, 18 years later, Glisshop is leading the French market and has a website available in 6 languages. We deliver in most European countries and our international development is going well. We have one of the largest selections of snowboards available in Europe and we are committed to providing the best service to our customers, no matter where they are and what they speak. We are a team of passionate riders trying to share our love for riding.
How did the rise of online shopping change the way you operate? What was the biggest lesson you learnt during this time?
As I just explained, when Glisshop was first launched, Mr MOREL felt the potential of selling online. It was quite a change of course. He and his wife had to write product descriptions, pack & ship things and give tips and advice over the phone rather than speaking face-to-face with customers and cash up the sale. This is pretty far from what you do in an actual store. I'd say the biggest lesson was to see that people were ready to buy things without seeing them or touching them. Saying this today seems a little odd when we can buy anything with one click and get delivered the next day. But back in the day, it was something!
Whats the biggest difference you see between the brick and mortar Glisshop and online store and how important is it to have both?
I'd say the biggest difference is what happens backstage with the online shop. We tend to think online stores require less staff, fewer materials, fewer logistics. It is quite far from reality. Behind the website hide the same ski and snowboard experts who work in the brick'n'mortar shop, but there are also people taking care of marketing, graphic design, IT, content, photography. Same in the warehouse where our staff works hard to get the gear shipped asap. When you're not familiar with it, it is really impressive. But it's great to have an actual shop as well. This is where you can see, touch and try the products. Customers in the store mainly come from the local area and it is important to them to be able to try and exchange live with our team. This brick'n'mortar shop helps us stay 'closer' in a way with our customers even if we do our very best to make online contact as smooth as can be.
Do you sponsor a team of riders? Who are the OGs and who are the new kids that you have your eye on?
We don't. Not anymore. This is an ongoing debate we have every year. Should we or should we not sponsor riders. Thing is, it is often easier for an actual brand, an actual manufacturer to sponsor a rider. You carry one message, you have your own specifications, you know what rider can best convey your brand image. When you are a retailer, you sell all kinds of brands, each having a unique personality and it can be tricky to make it all come together and pick only a few riders. We'd love to sponsor every kid out there but it has a cost we cannot afford. Of course we are all riders at Glisshop so we're all up to date with what's going on out in the mountains and we're happy to see young talent raising, but for the time being, we do not have a team of riders.
Which brands do you stock? Do you ever make a special effort to support independent brands?
We stock as many as we can. From the big players like Burton, Nitro or Ride to small companies like West, Borealis or Lobster, we try our best to offer a complete spectrum of what's available in the industry. We attend ISPO Munich and we do test sessions every year in order to discover new stuff and try to push new brands we believe in. There is actually one brand we'd like to mention. Verdad. We established a strong partnership with the founder Demir Julia. He is truly passionate and works super hard to make his baby grow. They make great boards, reliable, beautiful and comfortable to ride. Glisshop and Verdad have been working together for a while. The brand helps us release Glisshop-limited-edition snowboards every year and we help them grow as much as we can. Besides Verdad, we have over 30 brands available as I write these lines and I'm just speaking about snowboards. We also have bindings, boots, helmets, goggles...everything a rider may need really. And I'm not even talking about skiing. I truly believe Glisshop has one of the broadest range of gear available on the market which allows us to recommend stuff that matches your skills and style. Whether you're a core freestyler looking for the latest Capita or Lib Tech snowboards or you're more of a powder ripper seeking the perfect Jones splitboard, we've got everyone covered. Small brands, core brands, generic, entry-level or high-end ones, we try to keep our range as open as we can.
What is your main focus during the summer months? A lot of shops shift their attention to skate or wakeboard products, why did you refrain from making this switch? Is it working out?
We used to sell skateboard and wakeboard gear until a couple of years ago. We had the choice to develop these sports or to focus on winter. We chose the second one. We want to be (and we believe we are) the best winter sports retailer in Europe. We want to know every product we sell, we want to be as specific as can be and cover every aspect of winter. This takes time and that's what we use summer for. We make sure we are ready for winter. Ready to accompany riders on the slopes with the best possible gear. We think that you can't be really good when you're covering too many activities, hence our choice to refrain from going summer. And it is working out so far. Fingers crossed!
CHECK OUT THE FINE WARES OF GLISSHOP, RIGHT HERE