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The blue-eyed barbarian travels the world to meet some of the most authentic small businesses and brands. His aim is to collect and share their experience with the ones who are only on the beginning of the way.

Copenhagen hairsalon and a retro toy shop, Ruben and Bobby

Urban Outfitters blog writes: 

Ruben and Bobby is a tiny hairdresser-cum-retro-toy-shop, run by the perfectly geeky Bobby and patronised by cool guys from all over the city. Upon entering the place you’re transported 20 years into the past, with video games, consoles and plastic figurines lining every wall and filling any possible space. It’s his personal collection and his business – despite being a fully trained barnet stylist, Bobby is also what we’re calling a specialised antiques dealer. We were like kids in a candy shop, and he was a thoroughly nice chap, indulging all our questions and OMG moments. He’s knowledgable beyond belief about anything gaming and 1980s/90s, and is always on the lookout for new pieces – he’ll even trade haircuts for them sometimes! If you have anything you think he’d like, drop him a message here and find out. If nothing else you’re guaranteed a great conversation. 

Idea

I opened my shop 8 years ago. It was a hairdresser combined with retro games and retro toys primarily from the late 70s to the beginning of the 90s. So it was primarily a hairdresser. Now we have 2 hairdressers here. I have one employee doing flex job – for 15 hours a week. He helps me with the shop. 3 years ago I moved to this more spacious space.

I was a trained hairdresser. In Denmark it takes 4 years. I wanted to open my hairsalon. At that same time I was collecting all those retro video games and retro toys. I was combining my two passions, you know.

If wasn’t a greatly new idea to combine hairsalon with other stuff. They do it all the time in Berlin for example – combining it with bars and clubs.

Video originally from Urban Outfitters blog

First clients

I had some clients from where I worked before, from a previous hairsalon. But It wasn’t too important, as I opened in the city center, people noticed me. From then on it was word-of-mouth. People saw a haircut and asked who made it. So people spread a word. I also started early on social media. And I also got media publicity because the shop has unique style – they were writing about us.

Publicity

Also in 2011 I started to accept Bitcoins, so I got some publicity from that. I do a lot of events also: 8-bit concerts and monthly competitions in retro games. And also in the beginning I was in charge of concerts on the street. In the beginning I just did a lot of things and people got to hear about me in some way. And I did that for some years, yeah.

Gade Fest

And every month we started to be open for a longer time and the same did other shops on the street. So we did different events and did them together. So they did some events, I did some events, mostly the competitions, but also Gameboy concerts. But we did that together, getting awareness of that. This street is quite popular, but when I got here it wasn’t so popular. We built it up.

It’s a good idea to cooperate, you know.

Video from street festival that Bobby organized in 2012

Collaborations

Actually just yesterday we have started selling this brand of clothes - Copenhardcore. They are shown only here. It has techno 90s aesthetics. Two years ago I did a video-game celebration CD with 18 different tracks from rappers and DJs. It’s called “My life with computer games”. This year I also put up a 19 years old video game that was never released. A Danish video game. I do a lot of these different events and stuff. Of course, it tells people about the project but also about the shop.


A great addition to our interview is a material prepared by a great blog about Copenhagen: We Are Copenhageners. They asked Bobby a question:

About two and a half year ago you were invited to make a pop up-shop in a newly opened Urban Outfitters in London. How did this opportunity arise and how was this experience?

They found me. Gave me a lot of money to shoot their spring collection in my old store. Then they flew me to London, where I had already sent lots of games and toys. They had already built my store inside the Urban Outfitters. There I cut people’s hair, played on some pinball and arcade machines they had rented for me for 3 days. A wicked and great experience.
— Bobby

Ideas that didn't give the expected results

Oh yeah! There was a lot of those. But you learn from all your mistakes also. Or you get something that you didn’t expect from your actions. For example this video game that I issued. I was super-optimistic. I am always optimistic about my ideas. I was like “Oh, we gonna sell so many of these games. We gonna sell 300 copies. Let’s make 300 games.” But we only sold 40 or so. And now I have more than 200 games in the closet. And I invested a lot of time to publish it and pull out press-release, etc. I was the publisher. And I shared the profits with two guys who made this game that never was published 19 years ago. Though it wasn’t economic success, I got a lot of publicity – I went to national tv and different talk shows. So it’s not always the money – it’s about promoting your business, if you do strange projects and whatever.

And at the beginning there was a lot of grinding, organizing these competitions with sometimes only 4 people or so. And also concerts, when I bought the beer and organized everything and only 5-6 people showed up. I am tired to make these monthly events here, but we were doing it for 7 years.

Social media

You still have to use it. It’s quite easy to make posts because I have so many things here in the shop to speak about. Sometimes I feel that it’s a lot of work, and what do I get from it, you know? But I think it’s quite important think to do for people to remember that I still exist. Starting from this summer I make one facebook post every day actually. I schedule it for the morning. I have a schedule for the whole week. I never did any paid ads. But it’s getting harder and harder to get people see it. So I think I might try paid posts.

the blue-eyed barbarian