Three guys met up and seemed to share the love for curatable, beautiful products. At first Concrete Matter started as an online-webshop, but since they couldn’t get rid of the fantasy of a physical store in The City, they decided to ‘just do it’: Concrete Matter, the store with the pretty wooden shop window, was born. Let’s talk with Jacob.
Hi! Can you tell a bit about yourself?
My name is Jacob, I studied art history, and I like birds. My birdwatch-hobby started when I was eight years old and so far I worked for Sotheby’s, FOAM and the only travel agency specialized in birdwatch-travels in Europe. I wanted to start my own company after that, and since my wife was pregnant with our first child an online webshop seemed convenient. In 2013 we opened a pop-up shop in Amsterdam and after a very successful weekend the dream of a physical store was born.
Why (does) Concrete Matter?
We thought ‘If our stuff is selling that good in just a weekend, we simply háve to have a store’. An old video rental shop went bankrupt and we became the next owners. We got the name from a friend of ours: he sold old pictures online and called that ‘The Institute for Concrete Matter’. It is a nice name for real stuff. No bullshit. Now we sell beautiful stuff for men: pens, knives, books, barber equipment, oldskool globes, we even have a bison and several model aircrafts. We call these mantiques. We also sell Pike Brothers’ clothing: workwear, denim, heritage based. And some Americana-style vintage. We try to combine the look and feel of vintage with the modern man of Amsterdam.
I like to interact with people. It is one thing if a guy from Chile buys a nice illustration for on his wall, but it’s something else if your shop gathers regulars and enthousiasts who come back every now and then for another model aircraft. The positive vibes and compliments we get from customers, the rarities-enthousiasts…
Why should we all buy gifts from Concrete Matter?
Because we are very strict on ourselves and our products. We recently started to sell jewelry and you can get a shitload of those online, but we tried to get the best quality, the best background and the best stories with our products. We have some sort of ‘Concrete Matter paint’: if we use that, the stuff is good. We’ve built ourselves a name and reputation, and we’re proud of it. We do not make concessions in terms of quality. For example: we do not sell ‘regular’ knives, we sell fourth-generation Japanese knives which didn’t change one bit since the first generation. If it’s good, it’s good.
What does Concrete Matter offer Amsterdam? And vice-versa?
I don’t think we offer Amsterdam anything in particular, to be honest. We could’ve gone to Arnhem, or something. That place is just as good. Sure, we are lucky with the constant flow of tourists, and with our current location in between populair hotels like the Hoxton. I am just saying. We offer Amsterdam diversity. That may sound braggy, but we work hard for it and even tourists give us compliments like ‘this is the best store ever’. We’re different compared to the rest.
Where do you see yourself and Concrete Matter in five years?
We got offers from Bijenkorf and Wholefoods to be part of their permanent collection, but currently I am working on an art business with a friend, and that is going very well. Maybe we’ll open a new shop or two. Maybe in Rotterdam, maybe in London. Who knows, haha. The plan is to establish our name and fame even more, to guard the quality mark of our products. It’s an interesting question. As far as I am concerned, the love for what we’re doing is still going strong.