Brydie Griffin, manager and co-owner at Baggins Shoes, shows off some of the shop's custom Converse collection, the latest evolution for the 44-year-old Victoria company.

Merchant of Cool: Baggins Shoes

Independent shop has been taking risks that pay off for 44 years



Baggins Shoes proprietor Glen Lynch doesn’t have problems adapting to change.

Over the past 44 years, Baggins has evolved from a psychedelic black-light shop on Government Street to an India-sourced clothing store in Market Square to its current digs, tucked down a horseshoe-shaped alley in Lower Johnson’s shopping district pedalling 700 unique designs of Converse and Vans shoes to every corner of the globe.

“The shoes are a nostalgic thing, they matter to people,” says Lynch, sitting in Baggins’ newly acquired production studio at 47 Market Square.

Chuck Taylor shoeboxes two metres high line the walls of the space, awaiting their fate as customizable, wearable pieces of art.

“In all the years we’ve been selling Converse, we see tonnes of shoes coming in that people customize themselves, paint on, draw on,” says co-owner Brydie Griffin. “So it was just a natural progression to start doing that for people.”

Lynch was inspired to move into customizable design after seeing the success of Nick Romero, a California-based entrepreneur and owner of The Ave Venice (theavevenice.com). With a sizeable investment in a screen printer and some of Romero’s patent-pending Converse moulds, Baggins has been pumping out one-of-a-kind Chucks for the past two months.

“We’ve been creating a catalogue of our own, but we’ve had to put that on hold for a bit because of the custom orders we’re getting,” Lynch says.

Already, local businesses like Reunion and Outlooks for Men have ordered unique kicks, while Baggins has partnered with local designers like Shawn O’Keefe, a graffiti and poster artist, and comic illustrator Gareth Gaudin, to entice customers.

And while there’s some debate around the birth date of the iconic Chuck Taylor – Lynch marks it at 1927, Griffin at 1917 – there’s no denying the shoe’s functional, timeless appeal.

“When I was a kid in P.E., you wore Converse or Keds. I remember buying them at Capital Iron for probably about $2,” Lynch says.

Baggins plans to roll out its online ordering system soon. In the meantime, head down to 561 Johnson St. or call 250-388-7022 to find out more.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

 

 

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