Huckberry has swung open the doors to the brands first ever pop-up store in Manhattan. We caught up with Co-Founder Richard Greiner, and head of Creative Marketing Ben O’Meara to chat about how the pop-up is changing the game for experiential retail, as well as discuss the topics of cold beers, lessons in pancake form, and of course, the coolest gifts from Huckberry this holiday season.
*Spoiler Alert: If you’re any relative to Ben, you’re getting the Flint and Tinder 10-year hoodie.
CYTIES: We know Huckberry likes to push the boundaries on experiences and inspire new adventures, we can only imagine what that will look like in retail form. Can you dive into what the store will offer for your visitors?
Richard: Absolutely, at Huckberry our mission is to inspire and equip adventures near and far, the undercurrent and spirit of adventure is what drives Huckberry. We wanted to make sure we brought that to life in our store. The pop-up has seven shoppable adventure itineraries to the New York City area. Some of them are as nearby as a drinking tour with the ghost of Jack Kerouac. This tour starts at the Huckberry shop with some whiskey and then an adventure itinerary sends you to the corner to find White Horse Tavern, this is where Jack Kerouac used to sit at the bar. It tells you his drink to order, shows you where he got punched out in the corner and such. It’s an inspiration guide that you can walk out of the store with and just sort of get after it in that moment.
CYTIES: We heard something about 72-hours in Iceland?
Richard: If you’re living in New York you can get cheap flights to Iceland, $250 bucks for a ticket, and it’s quicker than a flight to San Francisco. So, very doable, and we’ve got the adventure itinerary for some tips on where to stay, how to splurge and get a Range Rover, go to this spot for a view, scuba dive here, hot springs there. These are two of the seven different adventure itineraries within the store that you can take with you. Then, of course, we’re also selling the gear, boots, and clothing that go along with that adventure to help you be equipped, and look good while you’re doing it — which is always half the battle right?
We really love that sort of throwback, tip of the hat to the old days, while really keeping your eyes forward and pushing to new boundaries.
Ben: If the Iceland adventure is far, and the Jack drinking tour around the West Village is near, we’ve also got one in the middle, an escape to Upstate New York. All of these itineraries are not only actionable adventures, as in, mention our name at a specific bar and it will get you 20% off a cocktail, but more so they’re actually places and adventures that we’ve done and that we’ve brought the product/products that are merchandised around that specific activity with us.
CYTIES: Why did you choose New York City as the location for the first ever Huckberry pop-up store?
Richard: New York is our biggest concentration of customers. It’s an area where they’re loyal and very engaged. I think we’re very much seen as a West Coast brand being from San Francisco and having strong roots there. We wanted to really strengthen our brand relationships with our existing customers in NYC and bring Huckberry to life in a place that the eastern seaboard could get to quickly. As well as really expand brand awareness in one of the biggest cities in America. So, that’s more the business perspective. From the softer side, New York City — particularly where we are in the West Village — is just such an incredible place. It’s got great history and building on that history is the more modern direction the city has taken. We really love that sort of throwback, tip of the hat to the old days, while really keeping your eyes forward and pushing to new boundaries. I think it’s also metaphorically a strong place for us, and there’s so much cool stuff in and around New York City, it was was a no-brainer.
CYTIES: When you kick off your next adventure, what’s an item you don’t hit the road without? Be it a piece of gear, an apparel item, or a hand-me-down from someone meaningful?
Ben: For me, it’s really to two things, and to be honest they tend to rotate partly because of our job and getting the chance to test out new products. I can give you a couple of recent specifics but it comes down to the boots and the bag. I feel like those are two of the most important pieces when you’re packing — then making sure I have a good book.
Richard: Ben hit the nail on the head. If have to go with one product, I’m going with the Flint and Tinder 365 Pant. They’re made of a khaki material, but are cut a little more casual like a pair of jeans. Super comfortable, have a little bit of stretch, they are the perfect pair of pants for an airplane ride. They have just enough dress to throw a button-down over them and go to a nice dinner, and you can for sure take them on a hike. Just the versatility of these pants is great for travel and whatever comes at you.
CYTIES: We know you guys are always on the road and you do a fair amount of traveling. Who’s on your playlist right now for a long flight?
Richard: I mix it up between music and podcasts, I’ll give you one of each. We just did a photo shoot for that Upstate New York adventure with this musician, The Bones of JR Jones. He’s really up-and-coming and knowing him personally has made him my go-to lately for music. I’ve also gone deep into the podcast rabbit hole… Malcolm Gladwell has this new podcast called Revisionist History that is just fantastic. He’s such a good storyteller, he takes a different cut at history and makes you think about things in a new light.
don’t be too precious with your first pancake, because it’s going to get tossed.
Ben: Tim Ferris is a friend of ours, he’s got a great podcast and always has some fascinating people on it, always a very diverse group of backgrounds with interesting show topics. Also, I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t believe in it, our team internally has a pretty killer Spotify station. Our Now Playing is a weekly curation that the entire office contributes towards. We have a slack channel in the office and our social media manager who runs the Spotify channel collects what everyone’s listening to. It’s just always a great collection of a pretty diverse group of musicians, and I’ve found a ton of new stuff on there. It’s a popular one that we shout out in our emails every week, it has the most followers of all our playlists — it is a great playlist I’m proud to plug.
CYTIES: Let’s get to the gear, what are some items we should look out for on Huckberry this holiday season?
Richard: An on going favorite is the Whiskey Peaks Glasses, we launch a new range of mountains every year/season. It’s just a fun gift, mountains shooting up in the bottom of your glass.
Ben: I’ll give you two. A more practical one that I’ve actually given out every season to someone is the Flint and Tinder 10-year hoodie. My dad’s got one, my brother’s got one, my brother-in-law’s got one, and now my father-in-law’s got one. It’s just one of those classic styles with an incredible price point, made in the USA. Another fun one is the Marshmallow Crossbow, who doesn’t need a marshmallow crossbow? Every year surprises us how many more of these we sell, it’s become one of our best selling white elephant gifts. We were doing some target practice just this past Saturday at our Grand Opening.
CYTIES: Is there one hurdle or failure that comes to mind that made Huckberry, or you, personally stronger while building the brand?
Richard: There have been lots of them, let me think on that for one second… In the early days Andy and I were on a trip somewhere out having beers one night, and at that point we did all the social media ourselves. I forgot whose pocket it was, but one of us was pocket instagramming by mistake and putting up a bunch of random bar pictures on Huckberry’s Instagram. I think a moment like that could be seen as pretty embarrassing. We made a follow-up post about having a few too many beers last night and sorry about spamming you. We just made fun of ourselves and really tried to keep it real — our customers absolutely loved it! It was just a great response from them and a super relatable moment. It reminded us to always lean towards being authentic and real when handling things.
Ben: For me, during the growth of our company I’ve learned to let go and let others on the team take on things I previously held close. Know when you’ve got really talented people on your team and let them do their jobs, bring a fresh perspective. Also, let the team make mistakes, let them learn. You can’t control everything and it’s all about trusting the people around you. That’s been the biggest one for me — when to let go and when to let other people take the reins.
CYTIES: Richard, you and Andy left your desk job in 2010 to bring Huckberry to life. To the person sitting at their desk right now, dreaming of a big idea that will surge them forward towards starting an adventurous career, what’s the most important piece of advice you can give?
Richard: I have a great piece of advice that was given to Andy and me right when we were starting Huckberry which is, you always throw out your first pancake… so get cooking! To kind of unpack that a bit, I think people often times particularly when you’re doing something entrepreneurial, you want the experience or the product to be exactly what you have in your mind, and your vision and to be perfectly articulated when you launch it. I can almost guarantee you no matter what it is, you will be transforming that first idea and constantly making it better. It’s really just about getting going and moving your product forward in the real world. All those consumer studies and behavioral studies, surveys and such, it’s all bullshit until your product is out there and people vote with their wallet or don’t vote with their wallet. I really just encourage anyone that’s been sitting on the precipice — just dive in. See what the consumer wants, and don’t be too precious with your first pancake, because it’s going to get tossed.
CYTIES: Great advice, this brings us to our last question, anywhere in the world you can kick back and drink a cold beer right now, where is it and why?
Ben: Oh man, we’ve had a lot of cold beer in a lot of places.
Richard: There is a cabin in Western New York, an area called Lake Chautauqua. I’ve been going there with my with my buddies since we were in sixth grade. It’s a hunting cabin on 1300 acres of land, there are a couple of fishing lakes and all the room for romping around you could ever imagine. It’s sort of become one of my special places. This time of year in the middle fall the leaves are on fire with all sorts of colors. That’s where I’d be right now, beer in hand for sure.
Ben: I’ve seen where he is talking about, and I’d love to join him there. For me though, I’m thinking of this amazing pub. My brother has lived in London for the last five years and it’s his corner bar in the Islington borough of London. I just love the neighborhood corner spot after a hard day’s work, I appreciate those little moments at the end of a crazy day, especially right now as we enter our busiest part of the season with Huckberry. That corner bar is so warm and cozy, everyone coming in after a long day’s work, it’s the neighborhood meeting spot. I was just talking to him about it the other day and that’s why it’s on the top of my mind. I would choose a small corner pub in a funky little neighborhood in London.
Wherever you’re reading this, we at CYTIES and the team at Huckberry hope it’s in the one place you would kick back and have a cold one. Here’s to near and far adventure itineraries, tossing pancakes, shooting marshmallows, whiskey over your favorite mountain peak, and Huckberry not just equipping your next adventures, but full on creating them.
Visit the Huckberry pop-up in NYC, open now and located at 383 Bleecker St.