Founded on the spirit of world class products that put the customer first and a DIY punk attitude, Vinland Skate Shop aims to stick the landing in St. John’s
Newfoundland and Labrador is home to many things. The finest trad music in North America, arguably the best fish and chips, and the undisputed best jigs dinner in Canada, and one of the most thriving and in demand skate scenes in the Great White North.
Opened in 2019, Vinland Skate Shop in downtown St. John’s operates on the mandate of providing top of the line products that educate as much as they entertain. And that goes beyond the world of skateboarding.
From top-class skate apparel and swag, books, records and of course righteous boards, Vinland has fast become a one-stop shop for the need-to-haves and wicked finds on our at times frigid, windswept rock. “I mean, first and foremost, the philosophy of our business is that we sell educational products. And I really mean that,” shared Dan, owner and operator of Vinland.
Learning to fall
“If you’re going to pick up a skateboard, it’s going to teach you how to deal with life and what it’s going to teach you is if you want to accomplish anything worth accomplishing you’re going to have to hit the f****ng concrete hard and you’re going to have to get back up and try it again. If you pick up a good record, that’s an education unto itself. And it’s really important for us to sell books as well. I can spend hours in a bookstore. I can spend hours in a skate shop and I could spend hours in a record store. So we decided to put all of those things under one roof.”
Vinland’s very existence in St. John’s can largely be attributed to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians themselves, who, flocking to Vinland’s sister location in Montreal on a regular basis, made it clear that the demand existed for a skate-dedicated hub on The Rock. In short order, Vinland has become a welcome addition to the downtown core, eagerly embracing the DIY culture that so many local businesses have adopted to not only survive, but thrive in the isolation of home.
“Because of the isolation, if you want something cool, you’ve got to build it yourself. And it was definitely Newfoundlanders that inspired us to come here and check it out. I’m a huge fan of what I see here,” Dan explains.
“It doesn’t matter where the economy sits, the skaters here, the entrepreneurs, the restaurateurs, the artists, they’re not stopping. They’re finding a way to do what they have to do. And at the end of the day, I just think that’s the skateboarders mentality. You know, willing to take a risk.”
Raising the Rock
Branching outside of the traditional wears of your average skate-shop, Dan and Vinland have embraced yet another side of the business; the promotion and cultivation of hard and heavy tunes.
Vinland recently put off two nights of epic punk rock from Canadian royalty Dayglo, coinciding with a home-grown tribute record featuring some of the best heavy artists working today. But that’s just the start.
“Dayglo was kind of the canary in the coal mine. I have an idea. I want to see if it works,” Dan said, explaining that he and the Vinland team hope to make Newfoundland a national and international hub for skateboarding enthusiasts and fans of heavy music.
“The idea of Newfoundland, in a lot of ways it’s better than Toronto and Montreal,” Dan adds. “It’s like going to Ireland or a European country. If you came here for the weekend with your girlfriend to see your favorite band then you gotta see some icebergs, some whales and puffins and take part in the city’s amazing culinary vibe. There’s so much here to offer that’s bigger than us. And I just think that we could really be like the honey pot to bring people here that are fans of skateboarding and heavy music.”
Vinland seems to have found that match made in heaven when it comes to Newfoundland. The DIY attitude that has been the hallmark of skate culture and punk music for decades perfectly pairs with our own nose-to-the-grindstone way of living.
“We’ll make our own records, we’ll put on our own concerts, we’ll start our own bands, we’ll make our own skateboards, we’ll start our own shops,” Dan said. “That’s the spirit of everything, that’s the underpinning philosophy of everything.”
For more on Vinland visit the official Facebook page and their St. John’s location at 216 Water Street.