Main person in charge of the Saltwater Shop: Oliver Dauert.
Anyone who enjoys going to the farmer’s market every once in a while knows one thing: this is more than about selling food. The fruiterer is talking proudly and full of love about his fruits. The baker presents his freshly baked bread, raving about the flavour. This is the place, where people meet and take their time for a little chat here and there. It seems like everyone knows everyone in this happy, colourful chaos.
This is the kind of atmosphere you will immerse into, going to the Saltwater Shop with its pop-up store, where they sell products with love and where people are taking time to answer your questions. It seems like everyone knows everyone here, as if the whole neighbourhood is hanging out to browse and to socialise. In a way, this is exactly what it is, if you look at the German surf community as a kind of neighbourhood that is spread out, but keeps meeting up in different places.
One of these places is the Pines & Beach Festival in France, where Oliver Dauert, main person in charge of the Saltwater Shop, shows me around: “It all started with Honolulu Events, when they produced merchandising for their own Surf & Skate Festivals and decided to sell it together with other small brands. The idea was clear: we create a shop for the merch and add small, selected labels from Denmark and Australia, that are difficult to get in Germany.”
The online version of the Saltwater Shop was born – a small business with a little storage space directly in the office, where each item was packed and shipped.
“We sign every parcel personally and we are excited about every item that makes a landlocked surfer a little more happy. A book, a magazine or a piece of clothing that makes them miss the ocean a little less.” This is basically the main idea of the Saltwater Shop.
Since the shop belongs to Honolulu Events and Island Collective, it was the perfect opportunity to integrate pop-up stores into the events. This helped the Saltwater Shop immensely to get established in the scene.
Olli points at a bunch of beautifully illustrated books. One of it is the book ADVENTURE, by the German author Konstantin Arnold: “We are selling many small brands that need to be experienced and touched. This is the advantage compared to the online shop: You can see the quality straight away, which explains, why some of our products cost a little bit more than mass produced items.”
Touching expressly permitted: guests browsing through the items.
Two girls are checking out some of the T-Shirts, the saltwater gang brought back from France. “It is nice to see, how the people interact with our products. Every product tells a story and people understand immediately, that this is a huge difference to the big labels.” For 85 % of the items, the shop is directly in contact with the artist or creator. Sustainability is important and therefore plastic is avoided.
I am looking at an art print by Pia Opfermann, showing a fin coated like a sugary donut. “Shark snack” it says under the illustration. I am asking Olli how they find new artists and products.
“Same as our followers, we get often inspired by social media. When we come across interesting Instagram posts or kickstarter campaigns, we make contact. 80% of the times, we approach the artists directly. 20% of the times they approach us and ask, if we want to sell their stuff.” Olli tells me about wax by YUCKY, that is completely made from tofu. I enjoy listening to him.
I ask him, what in the shop he would personally buy first. He laughs: “This is my biggest problem – I want to have so many things myself! I think I am my best customer. At the moment I am thinking about getting the book “Distant Shores“ by Chris Burkhard.”
Every farmer’s market has to end sometime and so does the Saltwater Shop pop-up store event. All remaining items are carefully packed up. “Here, take some stickers!”, Olli calls out to a boy, who gladly takes them and leaves with a big smile on his face. People are saying good-bye – the next event will happen soon and again, it will be like the neighbours catching up.
We are talking all the way back to Hamburg – Olli driving, me on the passenger seat. I ask him, what the ocean means to him. Looking through the front shield into the rainy gray landscape, there is suddenly a dreamy look on Olli’s face and he says: “The ocean means basically everything to me. I can’t imagine a life without it. Although I am from Berlin – a city far away from the ocean – I always felt deeply connected to the ocean. After school I went travelling in Australia, where I fell in love with surfing. The ocean is a place for me to reset and to be in the present. Every session gets my head clear again, no matter what. That’s my detox!”
“The ocean is my detox.”
I am starting to realize, that this was just an introduction. This guy has a more to say. He talks about the beauty of the ocean as well as about the environmental disaster humanity has created with its plastic trash. How selfishness and greed is destroying our oceans, which are never going to be the same again.
As we are passing the gas station he looks at the display. Suddenly the ocean is far away and he is back here, in the car with me: “Shit, we have only 8 more kilometers, it totally slipped my mind!”
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