We sat down with Benny Komala, owner of Ben-G to look back on our shared history and talk about what more is in store for Ben-G.
Benny, please share with the people how you started your store.
"Gee and I both worked behind the bar at Bitterzoet, a club on Spuistraat in Amsterdam. I’ve known Edson for a very long time. Me and him both participated in a play once, it was about skateboarding, BMX’ing and inline skating and Ed was the DJ. That must’ve been 1997 or so."
"13 years ago when Patta was located here on Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 142 on the first floor, the entrance was just an empty space. One time, I got drunk with Gee sitting at the bar at Bitterzoet and I told him “you should let me open a skate store, I can sell VANS & Nike SB, and you sell your sneakers upstairs.” They thought about it for a minute, whispered a little and said “cool, let’s do it.” Four months later I opened up, this was in 2005. We ended up sharing the building for over eight years."
What was that like, sharing a building with these guys?
"It was mad fun. Everyone that visited Patta had to come through my shop to reach it. And Patta would have these hyped releases that would have people asleep outside our door. I’d get to work in the morning, or Bob would open up, usually too late, and we’d have people camping out in front of the shop. Crazy times!"
What inspired you to open up a skate store?
"It was never my dream to open a skate store actually, it was by coincidence. I got the chance, went for it and I’m still here."
"I don’t usually celebrate, didn’t do anything for the 10 year anniversary either. I just thought 13 was such a silly number, thought it would be funny. I wanted to do it with Patta cause we’d made some shirts together once but nothing after that, so I thought “let me throw this idea at ‘em” and luckily they were down to work together again."
"I have this store thanks to them. Without them I would’ve never had this store, so I have them to thank for everything. The collaboration went really smooth, it’s easy to work with the people at Patta. Gee and I have similar tastes, so that makes it much easier. I’ve obviously known them for a long time, so I knew that something good would come out of this. We talked it through, they came up with the design and I thought it was sick. We finished it in a second."
"I wouldn’t know what Ben-G will look like in five years. People will always skateboard and buy skateboards and shoes and clothing, so we’re in a good space. But you never know, the times are crazy for retail these days. Let’s see."
Special thanks to Jim Bakker