This edition of #supportyourlocalskateshop is a very special treat and a premiere because this next shop is not only a skate shop but also a roller derby magazine and news site. The magazine and the online and brick and mortar shop complete each other and offer a fully holistic roller derby experience for the French roller derby community. It is called Myrollerderby and was founded in 2018 by three passionate skaters. Myrollerderby is the newest STEAKS® retailer and oozes everything we love about the work with skater owned skate shops. It is a true passion project that we are excited to tell you all about. We got to speak with manager Adélie Dallemagne aka Dédé Froquée about this special concept, how they came up with it and how it is running. The shop is located in a beautiful area in the South-East of France, very close to the Swiss border. So if you are ever travelling in that direction, drop by the shop and say hi.
Your shop is unique as it is not only a shop but an actual roller derby news magazine for the French roller derby scene. Can you tell us more about the concept?
We had noticed that there was no proper, central source of information on roller derby in France. Finding information was very confusing. Everything was spread out into many different Facebook groups and pages and other media. It was complicated and hard to know where to find information. We thought it would be a good idea to have one central website that would cover as much as possible: the entire French competition with a spotlight on the French Championship, its stages, scores and results, rankings, streaming possibilities and so on. We wanted to cover different events related to all areas of roller derby: adult and junior teams, fresh meat, national teams, referees, NSOs, photographers… We want to feature and talk to everyone that is involved in and shaping the sport. We publish articles on equipment, drills and skills, injuries and injury prevention, roller derby art, basically on everything that has to do with our sport. And when I say “we”, I am not only talking about the founders and managers of Myrollerderby.com but about everyone in the community. We encourage everyone to show up with a topic he/she/they wanna talk about and give them access to the website to do so. We want the people to run the site, be responsible for it as well. That is why we came up with the idea that every roller derby league could have its own page on our site and feed it with its own events and information. This is one major aspect of the website. It is a space for each team to exist and communicate. Our main goal is to create a platform for the French roller derby community, which is run by the skaters for the skaters and to carry on developing it. The teams hosted on the website also have a discount in the shop – which is our way of sponsoring them. We also support a handful of leagues with larger sponsoring packages.
What came first? The magazine or the shop?
They both started at the same time. We could not imagine only running one without the other. They are linked but not dependent on each other. You do not have to go through the shop to find the magazine part of the site and vice versa. The shop has the goal to finance the magazine, the web hosting costs or the development of the platform and everything else.
How do you stay involved with the local skate community? How do you gather all of the information on your site?
We are all part of the community. The Myrollerderby founders are roller derby coaches and players. I (Dédé Froquée) played as a jammer for 7 years (with Roller Derby Caen and Perth Roller Derby) and was also in the French National Team. I played the last World Cup in Manchester as well as the 2018 WFTDA Playoffs in the USA, where I played for Crime City Roller Derby (Malmö). I retired from playing about the same time I started managing Myrollerderby but I still coach (Léman Alpes Chablais and other leagues). The entire Myrollerderby.com team has more than just one foot in the community. We also have loads of friends within the community, so knowing what is going on in the community comes naturally to us. It is part of our job to constantly be in touch with all the actors of roller derby in France and to gather all the information we need to feed the website. We also visit many events where we run booths, which is a good way to physically be present and meet and connect with people.
Do your site and shop only cater to the roller derby community?
Yes, it does and that decision was an important aspect of our project. There are many shops where you can find roller derby gear as well as gear for other sports. We wanted to develop a shop exclusively dedicated to roller derby (our name probably speaks for itself 😉). Our target market is roller derby. It is awesome in the sense that we know the sport and the equipment we sell. We have tried the equipment, we have skated with it, which makes it way easier to give the best feedback and advice to people. For example, I could not sell skateboards as I have never stood on one! And as I know a lot of the skaters that order from us personally, I enjoy sprinkling the boxes with paper hearts and little love notes 🥰!
It makes a ton of sense that your customers can rely on your knowledge and also know you, which is really the strength of skater owned skate shops and sets them apart from large online shops or huge international companies. So how do you decide what products to stock in the shop? How do you make your selection?
We select products we know and have been using throughout our own roller derby practice or that have been recommended to us by players we know. We keep our ears open for that type of information, on and off the track. Occasionally we provide some of our sponsored teams with gear so their players can try it out and share their thoughts on it. So for Myrollerderby finding new products is also teamwork! We try our best to offer a large range of products that suit different players and their needs – from rookies with a low budget to experienced players that are looking for the best roller derby gear out there. We also select designs of the products to suit people’s different tastes – from black and casual to glittery and pink. But we also try to limit our product selection so people won’t get lost in a sea of choices. We try to keep things simple. From Riedell, S-One, Bont, Chaya, STEAKS® Wear… and other brands, we work with well-known quality brands which have been approved by the community. Sometimes we just roll the dice and give some totally unknown product a shot because who knows what gem we could find?
The approach of Myrollerderby is the most holistic concept we have seen – we applaud you for that. You offer a shop, curated content by people who know the sport, plus user-generated content by the French leagues. How has the community accepted the concept so far? How are things running?
We just celebrated our second anniversary and so far it has been a great adventure. There were hard work and a steep learning curve involved at the start because none of us really knew what we were doing. We jumped headfirst into this adventure, hoped for the best and let things unfold. We loved the idea so much and thought it would be something cool to do. In the beginning, we had no big expectations and I would say that we still don’t. It is, of course, important to us that we are accepted by the community and that we become part of it. We also want to keep improving and become better. But for now, we are happy with keeping it low key. We don’t care too much about success or making money as long as we can afford to keep the lights on. We are definitely growing at the moment and the number of teams hosted on our website as well as our followers on Facebook is increasing. We are reaching more and more people. We now often hear, “oh I ‘ve read that on ”Myrollerderby” being said in corridors during events. We have received good feedback from people and I am happy to say that the community has welcomed us with open arms, which we are very grateful for. As for the shop, things are running good, we are a small business with a big heart.
Has Myrollerderby improved the communication within the French roller derby community? If yes, could you give any tips to roller derby communities in other countries that might be interested in creating something similar? Tips that you wish you would have known when starting?
If you plan to take on a project like Myrollerderby I would advise you to focus on the website. It will be the main aspect of the business. For the website to work and be efficient, for people to enjoy surfing on it, it has to be done by a professional. The same thing goes for the visual identity, this cannot be done by an amateur. But this can be very expensive and can scare off many people that come up with great ideas but might not have the money. We took the risk since we wanted something good and also developed the shop to pay for it all. Further tips would be the same as for every project really: surround yourself with good people, do it for a good reason, stay passionate, don’t count your time and effort too meticulously, take it easy and at the end of the day just put on your skates and go for a ride!
What can the local skate community do to support their local shops and scene?
Well, the best way is probably to spread the word that places like ours exist. Places where roller derby leagues and teams can find and share information, actively keeping the sport alive. Places, where you can also find and purchase all the equipment required for your sport.
Visit the Myrollerderby Shop:
85 route de Craponne