Field Trip: Snake Oil Provisions
Posted on October 7, 2014
I reached out to the fellas over at Snake Oil Provisions in January about doing a writeup. I had seen their online shop, their insanely rabid Instagram following, and knew a brick and mortar store was in the works so we met in Long Beach near their current HQ for coffee and chatted all things menswear. Josh and Ben are some of the nicest guys I’ve ever met and I mean that sincerely. We meet a lot of shop owners, brand owners, and dudes that are just generally stoked on menswear but rarely do I meet a pair of guys so easy to talk to and so genuinely friendly. Josh comes from an ad industry background and Ben has spent most of his life in retail, most recently at Unionmade, so right off the bat we had quite a bit in common. Their shop wasn’t ready for shooting so we waited for a few months until they were open and ready to go for me to come back down and shoot their shop. SOP is in a quiet stretch of Long Beach near Syndicate Barber Shop and a few other small retail stores which gives them a little pocket of semi-urban walkability with plenty of local flavor. Their web shop boasts quite a large number of products and their storefront, though small, certainly shows them off very well. They were still putting the finishing touches on the shop itself when I visited but it still had a homey, warm feel with plenty of great decor. Something about the high white ceilings and flat woven rugs makes you want to hang out in the space and chat menswear all day. Their brand list right now includes Rogue Territory, Apolis, Red Wing, Filson, Shinola, Teranishi Brand, White’s Boots, Ruell & Ray, AnonymousIsm, Schott, and many more. I picked up one of Rogue Territory’s new indigo dyed jumpers while I was there and have thus far been super thrilled. They consider as Rogue Territory to be one of their flagship brands so expect to see a good offering if you intend to visit. I sent over a few questions for the dudes; here are their responses. Click here to view the full article and interview.
Josh: Depending on how far back you wanna go, I grew up in a small town in the CA high desert before moving out this way in my early 20s. I did the music thing for a while before finally settling into a career in branding and advertising. Aside from a devout love of clothing and how things are made, my career experience has been my main contribution to the formation of SOP. When we met—which was all thanks to Karl of Rogue Territory—it was a pretty perfect marriage of our respective talents, experiences and connections, so creating SOP was kind of a no-brainer.Ben: I was born in Ohio and grew up in Atlanta. While I’m a former semi-professional rocker, most of my professional experience has been in retail. Men’s clothing has always been a passion/ obsession–how and where things are made, why people wear what they wear, etc. I’ve also known since I was a wee lad that I wanted to be a shop keep. For me, SOP was years in the making. I had a name and a sketch for years. That was one of the big motivating factors to move to California.Josh and I first met (virtually) on Instagram and in person for the first time at a General Quarters party. We really connected at Northern Grade Los Angeles via Karl, and that’s where the SOP seeds were planted. Later that summer, we started meeting regularly and found out we had a very similar vision but different skill sets that would really make this shop work. Last November, we launched online with a very small brand roster, and the growth has been faster and bigger than we predicted.
Josh: This city actually has quite a bit of significance for both of us. Aside from the fact that it’s where Ben and Miranda decided to settle, I went to school here in the early ’00s and my grandpa worked in the shipyards way back in the ’60s. Also, it’s a great midway point between LA and OC, giving us a unique opportunity to service a really wide and diverse customer base. And, frankly, it’s a really rad place to do business and to hang out.Ben: I’ve loved Long Beach and planned to move here for many years. I visited about twice a year for 8 years and really got to know the area and people. Miranda and I finally had a million reasons to make this move in December 2012, and opening SOP was a big one. For me, Long Beach was always the shop location. L.A. is spoken for, but Long Beach hasn’t had anything like this shop. The customer is here, the city is uber supportive of small business, and the timing is spot on.
Josh: Starting the webstore was the best thing we could’ve done, in my opinion. It allowed us to get our brand out there, hone our roster, and get things figured out before having a lot more overhead. As for our Instagram following, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for IG. The community on there is amazing and we’ve made some real, true friends as a result. All that said, there’s no replacement for the awesomeness of having a physical shop we can go to, where we can hang out with our customers and friends and look around and be surrounded by all these things we dig.Ben: ditto
Josh: Let’s see… in no particular order: Rogue Territory, SchottNYC, Ewing Dry Goods, Ruell & Ray, Teranishi Brand, Red Wing Heritage, Santa Rosa Boots (an SOP exclusive in the US), PF Flyers, AnonymousIsm, Shinola, Wood & Steel, Stormy Monday, Apolis, SALT. Optics, Amana Woolen Mills, Square Trade Goods, Shetron, Grover, g.Colton, Aloha Sunday, Filson and White’s Boots. We’ve definitely got some things coming down the pike, but nothing we can really talk about yet.
Josh: We love all of our brands, and that’s not just lip service. We don’t carry it if we’re not stoked on it. That said, Rogue Territory is sort of our flagship brand. Aside from loving everything they put out, Karl and Leslie have been super supportive and pivotal both personally and as a brand in the growth of SOP. I’m also really stoked on PF Flyers, which is brand I’ve known about for forever (Sandlot, duh!) but had never really thought much about until we started talking to them early this year. Now I can’t stop wearing mine. I also love the Wood & Steel knives we’ve got and the Shinola watches. And of course my Ewing Dry Goods belt and key clip are always with me because they’re amazing… I could keep going on about all of the brands but I’ll stop there.Ben: Like Josh said, we only carry what we use and abuse ourselves. Stating the obvious, Rogue Territory is a dream brand for me. They were the very first brand to commit when SOP was just a half-baked idea. Karl and Leslie are now dear friends. It all started with me buying my first pair of Stantons years ago and then striking up a friendship through email and social media. They made our transition to CA from GA really easy and have been a huge support system for opening the store. As far as other brands go, they’re all rad of course. I’d say Schott NYC had been a dream brand, and landing them was magical. They’re a real pleasure to work with for sure. I adore Santa Rosa also. It has been a true treat to offer the Dixon oxford and turn folks on to something new and otherwise unavailable in the states. And anything Dan Ewing makes.
Josh: Ugh… this is such a hard question to answer. I think my favorite piece that we carry right now, as I type this, is the Schott A-1 in navy leather. But my “current favorite” changes all the time because we have access to some seriously amazing stuff.Ben: Definitely hard to pick a single item out, so I’ll say a few. The Schott NYC leather trucker jacket in navy is utterly bonkers, and I cannot wait to bust it out when cooler temps finally get here. I’ve been working on a pair of RGT Dark Stantons for a few months, and they’re starting to look super correct. Love the weight on those bad daddies. And my Santa Rosa Dixon oxfords. Once the SOP x Ruell and Ray collaboration Shore Jacket releases later this month, that will definitely move into my “faves” and be in regular rotation. (By regular, I mean every day).
Josh: For us, the sky’s the limit. We feel like as long as we remain passionate and true to our goals and beliefs, there’s nothing that can stop us. And we’re stoked that we’ve had so many supportive amazing people join us on this journey. More practically, we’ve got some cool collaborations coming up, some more exclusives and some even bigger plans that we can’t really discuss yet. Suffice it to say, it’s going to be a lot of fun.Ben: We tend to take everything day by day. SOP will keep on keepin’ on. As long as we stay on the path we’ve carved out for ourselves, where we offer a solid roster of the best brands, best products and continue to build a community of the best folks, then the possibilities are limitless. Yes, we have some specific short and long-term goals, but we like to allow space for this thing to breathe and have a life of its own. Being flexible like this leaves us open to new possibilities that we might miss if we were locked in on a set path. Really what I’m saying is big things poppin’ in the SOP camp!!
We’re super excited to have Snake Oil Provisions open in the greater Los Angeles area and can’t wait to see what comes from them next. If you live in town or ar just visiting the area, take an afternoon and head on down to Long Beach to get your rad clothes fix. You can find them here: Snake Oil Provisions 2742 East Broadway Long Beach, California 90803