A Derry homegrown brand has opened up about its evolution, from a Facebook page used to discuss films, fact and TV shows, to an established business in the heart of the city centre.
Storefront is a clothing store which specialises in street use, vintage clothing and US brands. It is truly rare and has been a thriving center of the community since its formation.
Co-owner of Storefront, Connor McKinney, spoke to MyDerry about this one-of-a-kind business.
He said: “We are a Derry born and bred Irish independent brand first and foremost and then we are a shop secondary in addition.
“We started off we were a Facebook group, we were like a Derry swap and sell but it was where people could truly talk about stuff like films and TV shows and stuff that excited them, it was a forum almost and it did have a lot of traction when it started off.
“It is something that probably could have worked better during lockdown but we started it before lockdown, we were using Facebook for something, sharing a giveaway or something like that.
“We were doing that for ages and then as it progressed and matured all of us involved we all have a love for certain clothes and brands so it brought a bit of community where there was not really before.
“There are people into a certain style but there was never a venue for it to be seen. We just had high street shops, clearly Topman has just closed down, we had H&M in addition.”
Building traction online, the founders of Storefront were given an opportunity to open their own physical space in a huge jump to make their idea into a viable business.
Connor said: “Ronan Stewart of Atelier was starting up his new place and said to us that he was going to have a new unit in the Glassworks and asked us if we wanted to get a start down there.
“We cherished the opportunity and then from there we thought we would give it a stab and see if we could buy in and sell brands that we always used to talk about in the group and then truly have a go at our own few tops.”
Now established in Waterloo Street, Storefront is complete of items you will not find anywhere else in the town. Walls decorated with their own brand in addition as US and vintage stock, Storefront is ever-expanding its reach.
Connor said: “We have a rail with lots of independent brands, people contact us all the time and if we have the space to ease it they are more than welcome to come in.
“We started getting big into vintage recently so there is a big section in the back with vintage Nike and Champion, Carhart jackets and Northface jackets.
“It is all a mix, that is the whole back section. We would sell a lot of English and American street use brands like Palace and Supreme and Stussy.
“It is all stuff you cannot really get here in the town or already anywhere in the North you cannot buy any of that kind of stuff. We just try to cater to all sorts of tastes.
“You get people come in now and ask for requests for Christmas too so we are definitely kept busy with all of that stuff. I am accountable for about 100 Christmas presents in this town so fingers crossed I get them all.”
Waterloo Street is quickly becoming a center for local businesses to establish themselves. A chain store or restaurant is nowhere to be found on this street. Every business here has its own roots in the city.
Connor said: “This street is nothing but independent businesses, it is class.
“People would ask you do you want to be in Foyleside or in a different centre, I said no because this is where it is all happening, next door you have got somebody that is doing their own thing and you can sustain one another far easier I would find.
“When we started off people would travel down far and wide just to come down and see us and just because of the whole story of what we were doing.”
There is a real sense of community around local businesses in Derry, with opportunities and platforms for places like Storefront to branch out to people who may not have known of them before.
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Connor said: “already just being on the Independent Derry card we are part of that which we are very proud of too as many other businesses are on the street.
“It is a good platform to just showcase the stuff you are doing. There are a lot of people who might not already know about you, like every day we will get someone pop their head in.
“There is no better street than here I would say for sure in the town. The sustain has been exceptional, especially during lockdown too everybody was texting us asking how are we getting on and we were getting on fine.
“It was probably just because we knew we had such a strong base here, that you would not want to be anywhere else.”
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