Interview by Melanie Gropler

All about sneakers - that’s the world of Andreas Biergen, who operates Afew with his brother Marco in Dusseldorf. Founded back in 2008 the sneaker destination regularly celebrates releases of special and limited edition sneakers in-store. Additional, they cooperate with several artists, brands and media for different projects. Besides their brick and mortar store they also operate an online shop. “We try to keep the store very personal and make the people feel like they don’t just come by to purchase something, but that they can also swing by for a chat”, explains Biergen. Here, he discusses Afew’s concept and his loyalty to Dusseldorf.

Why did you decide to open your store? Please tell us your story and motivation!
My brother and I started playing basketball when we were young, so we got infected with the sneaker virus from early on. Since it was pretty hard then to get the basketball sneakers one wanted, we let friends and acquaintances send us our desired models from the US and Asia. Sadly, there were no sneaker stores in Germany back then.
At the beginning, we only acquired shoes for ourselves, but that switched and resulted in us acquiring shoes for all sorts of people, trading them in a small circle.
Since we were both dissatisfied with our actual jobs, in 2008 we decided to stake everything on one card and open up our own small store.

Afew Sneaker store in Dusseldorf, Germany
Afew Sneaker store in Dusseldorf, Germany


What does your assortment offer? Which are your key brands? And which brands did you recently add to your range?
95% of our assortment are sneakers, whereas we make sure to have a preferably unique range, a lot of our shoes are limited editions. Our most important brands right now are Adidas, Nike, Jordan, Asics, Puma, New Balance, Le Coq Sportif, Reebok and Saucony.

Which are your bestsellers, the best styles, brands and colors at the moment?
Currently, the Tubular Runner from Adidas, the Gel Lyte III from Asics and the Huarache from Nike are very popular. Those three are our absolute bestsellers.

Where do you buy your merchandise? Trade shows/ showrooms? Where do you inform yourself about current trends?
Usually, we buy the sneakers directly at the respective brands and first of all inform ourselves in our store, directly through the customers. Furthermore, we read a lot of blogs and are active in a number of groups and panels online. Through those we are always well informed when it comes to new trends.

Afew Sneaker store in Dusseldorf, Germany
Afew Sneaker store in Dusseldorf, Germany


Are customers looking for specific brands or pieces, or do they shop spontaneously?
There are different types; a lot of customers read up about trends beforehand and come into the store looking for a specific object. But there are also a lot of people, who just come by and get inspired on-site.

How do you keep in touch with the customers?
We use the common social media channels to keep in touch with our customers all over Germany. Furthermore, we regularly host events at our store where a majority of our local customers shows up to and good exchange takes place.

Were sales higher this year, compared to the year before? How do you explain this development?
We grew healthily over the past year, which was, on the one hand down to people enjoying to come to our store and on the other hand, down to the fact that the sneaker speaks to a larger audience now.

What does the sales rate between online-sales and stationary sales look like? Which of the two is more profitable?
Both are important, with our store the ratio is still very balanced, since there are a lot of sneaker enthusiasts in Düsseldorf itself. On top of that, we are able to reach customers all over Germany and the world with our online shop.

What makes your store special?
We try to keep the store very personal and make the people feel like they won’t just come by to purchase something, but that they can also swing by for a chat. We are especially proud of our “Glow in the Dark” floor, which charges up during the day and glows in the dark, it’s unique worldwide.

Afew Sneaker store in Dusseldorf, Germany
Afew Sneaker store in Dusseldorf, Germany


What do you like about your location and your customers?
We were born and raised in Dusseldorf, the city means a lot to us and made us to what we are today. The Rhinelander is supposed to be a cheerful person and that’s what we feel in our store every day, a reason why we love to go to work daily.

Is there some kind of role model store for you? An international shop that inspires you?
There are tons of stores we like, that have very individual and string concepts. We try to develop our own concepts, though be guided by our dreams and ideals.

What is the most important ingredient for successful retailing?
I think diligence and passion are most important, furthermore, it isn’t a bad thing if you are creative and have a good sense for the product you’re working with.

Where is the sneaker trend developing to in the future? What do you prepare yourself for?
If only I knew… I think that there will be a range of smaller brands next to the big and established brands. Besides, I think new technologies, like 3D printing for example, will change the development of the sneaker immensely.

Afew
Oststraße 36
40211 Dusseldorf
Germany