Bernie Gross is all about owning what makes him unique. The creative director of one of the most notable New York-based streetwear boutiques, Extra Butter, played a key role in opening up the retailer’s second location in Long Island City, Queens. Gross, a Queens native himself, sees it as a homecoming. “I think it was always important for us to embrace our heritage and our history — it speaks to the authenticity of the Extra Butter brand,” he says. “We always want to connect in a genuine way with our followers, and it was important to embrace our community in Queens so people would know there’s more people to look up to and vibe with here.”
With a longstanding and beloved relationship with its neighborhood, Extra Butter’s latest location will embrace rare creations and collaborations in the sneaker world, working with renowned brands and designers to bring Queens a new store for the community and by the community. Through this kind of democratic and unorthodox creative process, Gross has learned to own the ridges, riding the ebbs and flows of the industry. It’s a spirit he shares with Ruffles, the chip that’s all about owning your ridges, which too has a history of entering the fashion and sneaker space, most recently with a limited-edition pair of kicks by the Shoe Surgeon called the Ruffles® Armored Ridge Tops.
In this same vein, Gross understands the importance of tapping into one’s roots. In many ways, it’s a selfless practice that serves to lift up the next generation and encourage young fashion and footwear enthusiasts to embrace their own ridges. “Growing up in Queens and living in Queens, you start to see how underserved the youth is. I don’t want to take for granted the opportunities I’ve been handed, so it makes me want to be able to create those lanes of success for the next generation of Queens kids,” says Gross. “We tell genuine stories because we are those people. We are the consumers.”
As for the store itself, the new Extra Butter location serves a physical representation of the spirit of the brand, providing a space for Queens residents and fans of the brand to be their authentic selves. The store features a movie theatre — a carryover signature element of its LES location. There’s also sections like Extra Butter’s concessions and snacks, which shoppers will encounter as soon as they walk into the new shop. All in all, it’s a place to create community. “I look forward to people coming into the store and chopping it up with me, with the staff and amongst each other,” says Gross. “I think those are the instances that create a chain reaction of something new happening that will continue to tell the Extra Butter story.”