Collecting Memories #04 – Snus Dudes

Collecting Memories #04 – Snus Dudes

“Our customers saw this round imprint of the snus box in the back pocket of our jeans, and thought this was cool. One thing led to another, and the next thing we knew, many customers walked out of here completely and utterly nauseous.” This is the story of Marcel and Roger Grivec, founders of Grivec Bros, who were hardcore lovers of snus, Swedish smokeless tobacco.

As gigantic lovers (and experts) of raw jeans, Roger and I know that every single thing that you put in the pockets of your jeans will leave an imprint. Did you switch from an iPhone 4 to an iPhone 6, and did you always carry your phone with you in the front pocket of your jeans? Then your jeans will tell when you switched between these phones. Let me tell you another anecdote about this.

It was around the year 2003 that we started to sell the Swedish brand Nudie Jeans in our store as one of the first in the Netherlands. I remember us going to Nudie Jeans to get a supply of denim for our store, when we noticed that those Swedish dudes from Nudie had a round imprint in the back pocket of their jeans. We figured that some peppermints caused this imprint, or perhaps a candy box. Still wondering about what it was, we decided to let the Nudie dudes themselves answer this question.

Snus, they responded. We absolutely had no idea what snus was. They clarified that snus is Swedish smokeless tobacco that should be placed behind the upper lip. So cool! Kind of comparable to the kind of tobacco that was used by mineworkers, as it was unsafe for them to smoke underground. Since we reacted so enthusiastically, the Nudie guys were so generous to hand over a sachet of snus so we could experiment with it a bit.

As our impatience grew, we decided to try it immediately once back in the store. I guess you could say that we weren’t entirely prepared for what followed. I cannot even describe the intense feeling that we felt after putting the snus behind our upper lip. We felt immensely and exceptionally bad. Nauseous. Sick. We felt like we were going to fall over, which led us to sit down on the sidewalk outside. One would think that quitting was the only option after this first and awful experience. But no, we figured: if the Swedish can handle this, we can too, right? So, we gave snus a second chance. But again, that extremely awful feeling came over us. But even then, we kept experimenting with snus, until we liked it. After a fair period of experimenting, we even loved it. So much that we purchased a refrigerator for our work office, since snus should be kept cool.

Just like the Nudie guys had an imprint, we too, as snus lovers, had a round imprint in the back pocket of our jeans. And just like us, our customers were very curious to know what caused that imprint, because they thought it was cool. One thing led to another, and the next thing we knew, everyone in Kerkrade knew where to find us for snus. Even soccer players from Roda, who weren’t allowed to smoke. You don’t want to know how many customers walked out of here completely and utterly nauseous. One experience richer, but that is also where the snus journey ended for our customers.

So, as the trendsetters that we were, were we the reason that our customers loved the round imprint? Guilty. Our influence, however, was not so powerful to make our customers love snus, just like us. But how could this disparity be solved? Well, Roger and I saved the empty snus boxes in our store. As you can probably imagine, our customers got hold of these boxes. Indeed, these unfilled boxes helped them to create that cool imprint, without having to undergo the full snus experience. More or less “fake it till you make it”. Although Roger and I were not the biggest fans of this solution, we let our customers do their thing. Our motto is that your jeans tell your story. Do you have a round imprint created by a snus box in the back pocket of your jeans, but you don’t actually use snus? In that case, the story that the jeans tell is somewhat inaccurate. Everyone in Kerkrade appeared to be hardcore lovers of snus at that time, but, as you know now, this was an illusion.

The Nudie dudes were aware of our love for snus. Every time they sent us some new denim supplies, they even wrote “Snusdijk” as our address on the package, since our store was still called Jeanspaleis at that time. Unfortunately for us, snus could not be purchased in the Netherlands. One of the owners of Nudie jeans realized this. Every now and then, when he visited our store, he provided us with some snus supplies that he had brought from Sweden. Happy us! After some time, technological developments enabled us to order our beloved snus online. This made things a lot easier! Until snus was banned in the Netherlands. Indeed, ordering snus from Sweden was no longer possible. But how did we manage to get our supplies from then onwards?

Rumors said that snus was still being sold at the NATO headquarters in Brunssum. We gave this American kind of snus a chance, but it wasn’t as good as the Swedish stuff. Our very last attempt at getting snus was through a family member that lived in Sweden. But alas, he was only allowed to bring a small amount of snus over the borders.

After 8 years of “snussing”, we quit. Well actually, we were forced to quit, because of the ban on snus in the Netherlands. Honestly, if the ban hadn’t been there, I think you would still find us snussing today. Of course, we didn’t want to use snus for our health, but quitting was hard. One of the hardest things we did. I guess you could say that the ban on snus was the rescue for us, the snus dudes.


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