Walking into Belmont Army Vintage feels great.
The air conditioning, the smell, the lighting: it all culminates in good vibes.
Every salesperson's face is symmetrical, just like the store's floor plan. Neat stacks of T-shirts sit perfectly aligned on identical mahogany tables that are so solid and heavy they can probably support a Harley -- or five -- much less a few shirts.
Walking into Belmont Army Vintage makes you feel good the way a swanky hotel does. It's the kind of place that makes you want to wipe your feet at the door.
Belmont Army Vintage, despite it's name, also makes you feel poor. The markup is just...
The prices have always deterred me from making a purchase. And then I found an issue of Huck: The Skateboarding Special.
A single copy was sitting in plain sight between two stacks of Huf pants. (Huf, for all intents and purposes, is a skateboarding brand). I picked it up. Like everything else in the store it felt good. The cover was thick and texturized. It smelled like pleather. I opened it:
- INTRODUCTION -
"Huck is a bi-monthly magazine, website and film channel that celebrates radical culture -- people and movements that paddle against the flow. Now, almost fifty issues in, Huck is taking its award-winning journalism to the next level with The Skateboarding Special, an irreverent digression into skateboarding specific stories.In Volume I 'Transformations', we explore the places that Skateboarding leads you -- from the dirt tracks of Bolivia to the mountains of the Pacific Northwest -- and the ways in which it can shape who you are.These skateboarders -- who are also artists, musicians, photographers, filmmakers, writers, woodworkers, explorers and activists -- herald a new creative generation changing the game from the ground up; from the disenfranchised London youth who are channeling their energy into frontline activism, to the skate converts in the Bangalore, India, who are building parks to keep their new culture alive.And the thing that unites them all? They learned everything they know from pushing out into the unknown."
I was intrigued. Skateboarding stories, I thought. I love stories! Who doesn't? I quickly jumped in.
I read about Joey Pepper, a woodworker who sculpts beautiful lamps out of old skateboard decks:
And Chet Childress, a strange and fascinating existential artist living in Portland:
And Jonathan Mehring, a contemporary photographer documenting modern skateboarders around the world:
And Josh Mathews, a skateboarder and true outdoorsman whose second home is San Francisco's Mt. Tamalpais:
And Tommy Guerrero, a jazz rock musician with a spellbinding view on life:
And Al Partanen, an eccentric deejay entertaining the music lovers of Long Beach:
Ultimately, all of these stories brought me to the LOOKBOOK section:
The LOOKBOOK section featured all of my new friends -- the fellas I just read all those engaging stories about -- wearing clothing featured on an adjacent page.
Joey, Jon, Josh and the others were modeling Huf apparel. See:
All of the articles of clothing featured in Huck were also for sale at Belmont Army Vintage. Naturally.
I'll be honest, when the pretty salesgirl with the symmetrical cheekbones told me that that issue of Huck was free, I saw it coming: it was an advertorial publication -- one that uses stories to create an emotional connection with its readers (i.e., target prospects).
Plato and the Hopis had it right: those who tell the stories rule the world. Because at the end of the day, storytellers are connection wizards. They're link builders. They're hookup artists.
In marketing speak: if you can tell stories, you can sell people.
You can sell people on ideas, concepts, services and products. Salespeople who tie a story around what they're selling sell more. Always have and always will.
Stories help people find common ground with each other. Stories help people form connections.
Stories are good for business, which is why businesses use them in their marketing campaigns. Always have and always will.
Story-driven campaigns are everywhere. Some are well-executed and some suck -- the good ones are those you find yourself snapping out of. Truly good ads will carry you away and toss you around.
That's what Huck: The Skateboarding Special did for me, at least.
And as for that purchase I never made -- I may or may not have made it after all...