Celebrating 50 Years!
This year marks our 50th Anniversary. What a milestone! Fifty years is a long time, and we’re feeling better than ever. We truly couldn’t have done it without the support of our amazing customers and staff over the last half-century. The last couple of years have been big growth years for us! In 2018 we brought Dr. Martens in, which has been an amazing addition to our already jaw-dropping selection. Most recently, our Director Tara Savrtka became a part-owner! Tara's a huge part of pushing Baggins forward, all the while keeping a really great perspective on staying true to the core of the original business that Victorians know and love.
So how did Baggins flourish into the company that it is today? Well, it all began in 1969 at the height of the psychedelic era. What started as a place to find posters, incense, candles, and smoking paraphernalia, slowly transformed over the years into a destination for those passionate about footwear, offering the biggest and best selection of Converse and Vans in the world. Read on to find out how Owner and Founder Glen Lynch sees the past 50 years, and what he foresees for the next 50!
LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW BAGGINS CAME TO BE IN OUR Q&A WITH OWNER GLEN LYNCH
Baggins Blog (BB): What made you decide to start the business?
Glen Lynch (GL): Black-light posters were all the rage in the late 60s and I needed a black-light to properly display mine, but they were hard to come by. The only place I could find them was at lighting wholesalers, but unfortunately, wholesalers would only sell to businesses and you couldn't only get a business license without a business address (which in those days couldn't just be out of your home). So, I found an inexpensive second-floor shop space on Government Street for $80 per month, or $60 if I swept the stairs, and the Baggins journey began.
(BB): Everyone is curious about this one, where did the name Baggins come from?
(GL): Everyone was reading Lord of the Rings at the time; it was like the Harry Potter of the time.
(BB): Very clever, I’m sure lots of Lord of the Rings fans out there appreciate it. What was it like being an entrepreneur at 19?
(GL): I didn’t know anything else. I’d always been entrepreneurial. When you grow up with very little money and you have a desire for things you must earn money somehow. When I was young, I’d go to the golf course and sweep the dew off the greens and I’d caddy in the morning. If it was busy, I’d stay until the afternoon. I did anything I could to earn money.
(BB): Sounds like you were committed to achieving your goals! What are you most proud of, professionally?
(GL): Providing employment and somehow surviving 50 years!
(BB): Fifty years is a long time to be running a business, I’m sure it's had its challenges. What’s the difference between running an independent business in the 70s versus now?
(GL): Now it’s almost impossible to start a business. We started with $3000 which was more than enough at the time to start. Rent was reasonable, not so much anymore.
(BB): What advice would you give another young person trying to start a business today?
(GL): You need to have a good plan, lots of money and good advisors.
(BB): That’s great advice. Where would you be if you had chosen a different career path?
(GL): There IS no other business... actually, Rocket Surgeon
(BB): Where do you see the business in the next 10 years?
(GL): I see it thriving under Tara’s direction and her excellent staff.
(BB): The introduction of Converse shoes was a turning point for Baggins, why did you start selling them?
(GL): At that time, I’d been selling mostly imported women’s clothing from India, and we had tried a couple of other shoe lines, but none worked out. One of our clothing suppliers got a small line of Converse and we ordered some of everything he had. I could see people were excited about seeing all the converse shoes, there was a lot of nostalgia. All the customers got a mixtape with every purchase of Converse for a season. The catalogue kept getting bigger and we kept ordering more and more!
In 2014, Baggins opened our Custom Printshop! We expanded our unique, funky spirit to include the capability to print *literally* almost anything on Converse Hi-tops, Low-tops and Vans Slip-Ons. You can get as creative as you like - use your own photography, or artwork, get inspired by your favourite sports team, band, or character, or use your pet as a muse for your very own one-of-a-kind shoes. We've also been working really hard to expand our Artist Collaborations for the Printshop! We work with amazing artists, most local to either Victoria or Vancouver. Last November we worked with Tattoo Zoo so each off their artists could design their own pair of signature shoes, which was so exciting! We're always looking for more artists to collaborate with. We also have been continuing our collaborations with big companies, customizing shoes for the teams at Youtube, Google, Heinz, Kraft Canada, American Express, Ben and Jerrys, Camosun College, Campari, Fairmont, Honda, Sunny D, and so many more! We've also been working with charities and non-profits like JDRF (diabetes research), United Way, SPCA, Mustard Seed and Vets for Pets. We also work with local sports teams HarbourCats and the Royals. All of this is super important to us at Baggins because we love to be involved in our community. We're very proud to be a local Victoria business and we love being the first place people think of when they think about Converse and Vans in Victoria.
(BB): The ability to custom print on your own pair of kicks is a pretty unique service that Baggins offers, how did the Printshop get started?
(GL)The idea of printing on shoes was something I thought about for many years. One day I was watching Shark Tank and I saw a fellow named Nick Romano presenting his solution for printing on Converse shoes. The next morning, I called him, but his line was busy all day. I was calling because I wanted in on his business. I sent him an email to let him know I was interested, and he got back to me right away. It took 3 years to get it all set up. We pay homage to Nick Romano for his brilliant idea.
Well, what a ride it has been here at Baggins, a fun ride! We are so excited to continue bringing people’s designs come to life at the Custom Printshop and keep bringing in the most inspiring collection of footwear and accessories for many years to come. Growth never stops and we don’t plan on slowing down! Follow along on our Instagram, Facebook, and keep your eye on our Blog for some exciting announcements in the coming months!