by Zoë Sanders
The English seaside town of Leigh-on-Sea is home to a menswear store doing things differently. Having first launched online in May 2011, The Buttery Store opened its brick-and-mortar premises in this small town 35 miles east of London in late 2013. CH took the train to the seaside to visit the store (stocked with goods from the likes of London skateboard brand Palace, Pendleton and handwoven belt line Hone) and meet with founder Lee Rogers.
“It was always our longterm goal to have both a physical and online presence,” says Rogers, who runs The Buttery Store as a side project alongside his day job as Head of Product at footwear brand Vivobarefoot. “The physical store gives our customers the opportunity to touch and feel the product and we love discussing new stock arrivals with them.” Rogers explains his belief that to build a successful business you need three things: a great website, solid social media outreach and a physical store. “We are working hard to develop all three,” he says.
Before opening its doors, The Buttery Store fulfilled website orders from a relative’s garage. “It still blows my mind the places we got orders from, such as Korea, Japan, Iran, the US and Colombia. This might not sound like a big deal but to us it was everything,” says Rogers.
In contrast to its global online customer base, The Buttery Store’s physical location is understated: down a blink-and-you-miss it side street, sandwiched between a bar and jewelry store. So why choose this former fishing village as its home? For Rogers, it was partly his desire to be different and partly the fact that it’s close to where he grew up. He is fiercely proud of the area. Being off-the-beaten track brings a certain type of customer. “We like people to discover us and we enjoy the interaction with customers who have made that extra effort. This is something we admire about our favorite shop, Bodega in Boston,” says Rogers.
The desire to be different feeds into everything they do, from the brands they stock, to making use of the Thames estuary landscapes in their photography and even hosting street parties in front of the shop. “Although our shop is very small, we’re fortunate in having a great space outside which means we can bring Berlin street party vibes to Leigh-on-Sea.”
While having such a small shop may be an issue for some retailers, The Buttery Store has risen to the challenge. With limited display space they have to choose carefully. “We don’t want to be like every other shop on Main Street. We want to stock brands we believe in, that we wear ourselves and that have a great backstory. We are evangelizing a way of life rather than just a new set of clothes.”
Rogers’ double life of full-time day job alongside full-on side project isn’t easy, and he explains it simply—and universally: “You have to believe in what you are doing to make it work.”
Images courtesy of The Buttery Store