Nickel City Gritty: Spoke & Dagger
For those of you who are familiar with Hertel Avenue in Buffalo, you know just how much it's changed over the past few years. I've lived off of Hertel for almost ten years now, and every year there are new and exciting things happening in the neighborhood. One of these newer gems is a shop called Spoke & Dagger.
Spoke & Dagger opened up their doors on Hertel in November 2016. The owners are husband and wife team Chris and Jodi Drew. Imagine the coolest couple that you could ever think of, multiply that by ten, and you'll have Chris and Jodi. They are super warm and welcoming, absolutely hilarious, and have a really great sense of style, even though Chris compares his style to a Sesame Street character which you'll read about later.
Spoke & Dagger may be a store geared toward the motorcycle enthusiast, but it has become one of my favorite local places to shop and I've never even sat on a bike before. Yes, they may carry helmets and gear for the daily rider, but they also sell lifestyle clothing, accessories, and fun little trinkets that you won't find anywhere else. I've definitely been a regular customer since the beginning!
Please listen to Chris and Jodi's playlists while you read through their interview. They were a blast to talk to!
This is Nickel City Gritty, and this is Chris and Jodi Drew of Spoke & Dagger.
Why did you decide to open Spoke & Dagger?
Chris: We wanted certain products and to be able to try them on. Like, we ordered a helmet, and it didn't fit her head.
Jodi: Yeah, he measured my head, did the whole thing, got the helmet and it didn't fit. We were like, whoa, per the size chart on this website it says the helmet should fit me perfectly and it didn't. We thought, if only there was a place locally that carried this stuff and where we could try this stuff on. So then, two days later, his friend was like, "Do you know anywhere where I can try on a Biltwell helmet in Buffalo?" and we were like, "No..but we are so doing this!" We were actually on this very spontaneous trip to Rhode Island where he grew up, and the whole ride home, it was like seven hours, we had the start of the idea to business plan...it was completed in that car ride and it hasn't stopped since. We really wanted to get accessibility to people in Buffalo. When you have accessibility to some of the products, then you're also going to grow the community of riders, too.
C: It also seemed like a growing community where there was a lot of people that we were running into who were doing a lot of the same stuff that we were, but no one was really connected or hanging out or riding with people. We wanted to just kind of bring people together, you know?
J: A huge part of it was not just the product but the community aspect and collaborations with other people. The most rewarding part is seeing people out riding together that met at one of your events. That's really cool.
"if oscar the grouch was a real person, we would be pretty similar in how we dress."
Describe your personal style
J: All black everything. *laughs*. I really try with color! Even to throw on a brown boot, I try it, and sometimes I'll live with it, but really it's all black everything. Even my house, my home decor is black, white, and grey, and if there is a pop of color it's like maroon or olive. I don't know what it is!
C: It doesn't go out. Black, white, and grey always looks good always.
J: Like, we're redoing our garden and our back patio and I was thinking, "Okay, this is where I'm gonna pull in some color!" And then just yesterday I bought black and white cushions. I tried! I had intentions.
C: I would say for me, if Oscar the Grouch was a real person, we would be pretty similar in how we dress. Dirty browns and black!
J: Everything with holes and stains!
C: Yeah, I've had shirts that I got when I was 19 that I still wear, I don't know what it is! You go to hardcore shows when you were younger...
C: Or laziness? I mean, I could, like, go to Target and get a new shirt, but...
J: He's surprisingly picky, too. I try to buy him clothes and he'll always find something wrong with it! He's very picky.
C: If I find something that fits me, I'll wear it till it falls off.
J: That's probably why you have grease and holes in everything because you wear what you like!
But stores sell stuff with holes in it now so you're on trend!
C: I don't like that, though. That's not REAL character, you have to give it character. So it's like, I got this *points to hole in shirt* from making something and it sprayed on me and ate away at my clothes.
But you would pay like, $90 for that at Urban Outfitters.
J: I know! That is so true, it's really true.
C: I actually paid $10 for this.
What were you like in high school?
J: The polar opposite of what I think I am now. *laughs* I was girly, I was athletic, I played volleyball all year round so my life revolved around the school and travel leagues. He didn't know me in high school so he thinks it's hilarious. He actually thinks I'm lying and asks my mom if that was really true because I'm like the least athletic person ever now! But I was always independent and found my own style. I never really did what anyone else did with hobbies or clothing or whatever, so that I think it still very much in my adult life.
C: I was just very quiet and nerdy. I had like six friends and I raced BMX so that was pretty cool. No one really did that. I grew up in Rhode Island and I was racing when I moved here and no one in high school that I knew was doing it. I got like two kids into it and another kid and another and so we got our little crew of dudes riding bicycles every day. I moved here in '97. It was tough coming here and not knowing anyone. So my group of friends was pretty little, and I just never got into the whole school stuff. I didn't apply at all, I just did not want to be there.
What is the first thing you bought with your own money?
J: Probably something stupid. When I was young, I had jobs as soon as I could work, and I feel like I was collecting home decor for my house that I would get in the future. I've always loved home decor and kitchen accessories and things. I bet it was something like that. I had three full boxes of stuff at my mom's house growing up that I was waiting until I moved out to put in my new home. So I'm sure it was something stupid like that.
C: The first paycheck I ever got, I bought a Sony speaker with like a three disc changer...like a boom box almost. I just remember that my check was like $300 and I was like, "Oh man! I need a really good sound system so I could listen to music in my bedroom!" It was huge and had like four big speakers on it that you had to wire in. That was sweet.
J: Isn't it funny that our life probably isn't even that different now? Like mine is probably still home decor and yours is still music and bike stuff.
C: Yeah, the same just a little more expensive!
What's your favorite concert you've ever been to?
J: It's so funny, because I listen to the same music that I did ten years ago, like emo pop punk or whatever, but as I've gotten older, I listen to more like the radio side of things. So I think the one I've enjoyed the most was when Drake and Future came to Buffalo. It was so hot, it was at the Key Bank Center, and we were right on the side of the stage where he was blowing fire out into the crowd...oh my god it was disgustingly hot but it was SO fun.
C: There's been a lot of fun ones. Two stand out to me just because I went to the show not expecting anything special but I left really stoked. One of them was Cruel Hand at Extreme Wheels skate park, never heard of them and we went in and they played and people went crazy. They had super cool energy. They are like a newer style of old Metallica, that's the closest thing that I can compare them to. It was like embedded in my head and they were really good. Their stage presence is what got me. The other one was when she took me to a band called Pig Destroyer in Brooklyn, and they're a metal band, but I didn't expect any movement. It was in a small bar and I thought everyone would just be hanging out and watching the band, but the entire room like blew up. It was chaos...it was awesome.
J: I'm not a mosh pit or hardcore show person, but he was like, "You'll be safe standing here and not in the middle of it." but then the entire venue turned into a mosh pit so I ended up standing on a barstool because I didn't want to be hit in the face!
What is your spirit animal?
J: A cat, for sure.
C: A crow. They're the ones that I always notice. I see them all the time, and they're always in that one tree at our house. I mean, I have one on me! They're smart. They have funerals for each other. And a giant group of crows is called a murder, that's pretty...weird. They wear all black all the time.
J: I just love cats. We have two cats now, but our tenant feeds all of the stray cats in the neighborhood, and I have no problem with it all because we have cats in our yard all day and everyone says that I'm meant to be living in this house!
Do you have any bad habits?
C: I don't know...what's bad? I just have habits that I do...I chew my nails, I have an attitude problem.
J: I swear a lot, and sometimes not in the best settings. Like today I was in a meeting and I probably should have been a little bit more professional and I started swearing. *laughs* My mom yells at me all the time about it.
What is one thing you've learned in the past week?
J: I'm on this self care journey, so I've learned that It's super important for me. So part of that is meditating and how it really is good for me and how important it is to take a minute for yourself. Tell people no and have a day to do nothing and not feel guilty about it. I think I always knew that, but this week actually taking some of that time where I'm like, I totally get it and why I need to do it.
C: I learned that cats feed off your personal energy and the tone of your voice. She was on the phone with our lawyer talking about some stuff and was anxious ridden and she was talking loud to make herself clear and the cat came up and started hitting her in the face and wouldn't leave her alone! *laughs* We were trying to go in the other room and she's like scratching at the door to get in.
J: And that's not in her personality either! It was so funny, and I had to keep apologizing, "I'm so sorry, our cat is freaking out right now."
What is on your playlist?
J: When you walk into the store, the sound of our playlist is whoever got here first. It's either his, in my opinion, terrible music or my, in his opinion, terrible music. Neither of us like each other's music but we tolerate it.
C: We neutralize with late 60's and 70's rock and roll.
J: Yeah, and playlist came from the shows we've been watching are set in that time and we were like, "This music is really good, we should play that at the shop more!" I like to listen to anything pop punk with a mix of rap that has really inappropriate wording.
C: Mine is a mix of 90's hip hop and hardcore metal. I love Beastie Boys, Run DMC, Wu Tang.
What is your most prized possession?
C: My wife...and my motorcycle.
J: *laughs* Awwww that's so sweet! Hmmmm...my prized possession. Well, obviously my husband because he was so sweet to say so. I would say my cats, but I've found that I'm kind of a materialistic person, like I like my stuff, but not in a negative way. Like, we go on these camping motorcycle trips and it's hard for me to pack my bags, I'm always overpacked. I don't really like camping because I can't really have all my stuff, but when I'm asked what my most prized possession is, none of that even comes into play which is interesting. So...I don't know. I think my prized possession is more like my time. Like, the quality time with the people that I care for the most.
If you didn't have to sleep, what would you do with your extra time?
J: What I would do and what I would want to do are two different things. What I would do is that I would have more time to work, because this isn't my only business I have a graphic design business, too, so I'm working 24/7. My brain goes to that's what I should be doing if I didn't sleep, but what I WOULD be doing is just riding. Taking off and going, riding cross country. Anything that would involve motorcycles and friends or meeting new people in the community and collaborating. Being together with Chris and doing all of that would be great.
C: So, it's just not having to sleep, right? I would still have the same for schedule and everything? I guess it would be filling my day up with the stuff that I'd actually want to be doing rather than the stuff that I have to do. I'd rather be in my garage just hanging out staring at stuff and not feeling like I have to be doing something.
J: Yeah, so like even at times when we have one moment of free time we feel guilty! Like, we should be doing these other things.
C: The only time that I have to sit down is when I'm asleep.
What are some of your favorite bars or restaurants in Buffalo?
C: Billy Club.
J: Yeah, we always go to Billy Club. We love the owners there and it's not even because we're friends with them. Their food is amazing, their drinks are great, I love the atmosphere. We go to Bertha's a lot for breakfast. We're connected with the owners and it's just that personal vibe that we really like. We also go to Vino's a lot. It's like a mom and pop little shop. We go there so often that the last time that we were there, they took our picture to put on the wall and they were like, "You're regulars now!" We still do love Mother's.
C: Yeah, that's like when it's 1:30 in the morning and you're like, "I really want a full meal right now!"
If you had a super power, what would it be?
J: Mine is kind of realistic and not so much fun, but my ability would be the power to tell people to fuck off when it's deserved and not feel bad about it.
C: I want a real superpower! Kind of like Deadpool and just be able to heal real fast. I'm already pretty fearless with the stuff that I do, but then having that, I would do everything! I would have so much fun!
J: I would have a heart attack! So that would be my super power, to not have a heart attack or an anxiety attack.
C: You would have permanent neutral blood pressure.
If you had a warning label attached to you, what would it say?
C: The only one that pops up would be "Explicit Content."
J: Yours I think would be something like "Don't poke the bear" because he's like so calm, cool, and collected until he's not. *laughs* I don't know what mine would be! What would you think mine would be?
C: Something like "May spontaneously combust"
J: We're both very hot headed but then when we're enjoying ourselves, we're SO enjoying ourselves! I'm like a feisty Italian, too, on top of it all so I'll be quick to turn.
C: A feisty Italian and a stubborn German/Polish. We bang heads a lot but it all works out in the end.
What is one movie you can watch over and over again without getting sick of it?
C: Fight Club. Toy Story.
Two totally different spectrums!
C: I know both of them word for word.
J: He really does! I really still love the movie Wicker Park. It's this weird twisty movie and you have to really pay attention but the story is just cool. Another that I grew up watching and still love to watch is Life Is A House. It's an old movie and it's really good.
"I just want to be comfortable and doing what I love"
My last question that I always ask is what do you want to be when you grow up?
C: Not homeless.
C: That was actually a real fear when I was younger. It's like you're out on your own, what happens if you run out of money, then what happens? But then reality sets in and I realized that I have a family that cares about me and friends who care enough that I could put my burdens all over them. *laughs*
J: I think I want to be what I am now, just a little bit better with my self care and financially set, you know? I don't need to be rich, I just want to be comfortable and doing what I love. I am already doing what I love but obviously we're a new business so there's that. So yeah. I would like to be what I'm doing now, just a little bit more balanced. That's not fun, that's not a fun answer.
J: You wanna know what? My dream career would be to have a wild cat farm.
C: We can do that! We just gotta fit it in the schedule.