Chris Backdahl.

Chris Backdahl, 23, Benny Gold

I walked into the brightly lit Benny Gold shop and saw what was both a counter with coffee machines and also a selection of corduroy snapback hats. Chris Backdahl laughed with a customer who was telling him how good the coffee was.

He commented on my clothes and said I looked like his old roommate: “I just recently moved here from Ohio, about a year ago.”

When asked about the attitudes of the people that come in to a place that serves coffee and sells clothes, he laughed for a while, then sighed: “The people vary, but I wanna say about 90 percent of people are really shocked and really hyped, about 10 percent of people are like kind of confused, and then there’s a few other people that are just like, confused and upset. But most people are super stoked about it, because not a lot of people see this type of concept of apparel and coffee.”

“We wanted to make our store more of an experience than just, ‘Oh cool, I bought a T-shirt.’ It’s also a good time when they come in to get coffee, because a lot of people don’t know about the brand that come in, since we’re on Valencia Street, so it’s an opportunity for us to inform them about the brand, like the streetwear, so that way they know, like, ‘Hey, Benny Gold is on this block and they sell good coffee and good clothes — like, we should go back there.’”

Chris was eager to share how he got the job: “My friend, who’s basically best friends with Benny Gold said Benny was like, ‘Hey, I need some people to hire for my store.’ and my friend Louise was like, ‘Hey, you should hire my friend Chris, he works hard, he just moved here from Ohio, he needs a job.’ I just moved out here a year ago just to skateboard and have fun, and I work here now, so, it’s really fun too.”

“Try new things, and I mean everything with ‘Try new things’ — like hang out with new people, go to new places, try new foods. Like, if you don’t like your job, go find a new one,” Chris said before adjusting his cap, “Don’t get comfortable and get stuck. You got to, like, get out of your comfort zone to progress, because you can only go up from there.”

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