ReturnCANS AND CO. CELEBRATE 20 YEARS PROVIDING MUNICH WITH MTN
CANS AND CO. CELEBRATE 20 YEARS PROVIDING MUNICH WITH MTN
Cans and Co. is an independent graffiti and streetwear store based in Munich, Germany. Founded in 2002 by Paul Heus, it has become an institution and cultural hub for Bavarian artists and anyone visiting the city made famous by names such as Loomit.
As part of the celebrations of two decades in the graffiti game, MTN News contacted Paul to find out the secrets behind his success selling spray paint and sneakers.
MTN News: Who exactly is behind the shop these days?
Paul: I’m the owner and founder of Cans and Co. established in 2002. I ran the shop with the help of two friends at first, but after a while I took over the shop on my own. We use social media, but the personal contact to our customers in real life is of higher value to us.
I’ve always had at least one assistant over the years, but at the moment I have four helping hands (Marian and Vivi).
MTN: Can you tell us the story of shop opening?
P: My Shop, Cans &Co, is based in Maxvorstadt. The district where I was born and raised as well.
I opened my first shop in 2002, while I was a trainee in visual merchandising. Luckily I was able to use one of the storage units in the backyard of my parents company. After some time, I was able to fully turn my hobby into a job: selling spray paint and more and more graphic shirts and sneakers.
The opening in August 2002 was pretty fuddled. We were open only three days a week, due to the fact that I was still in my other job.
Getting in touch, and making deals, with bigger companies was super difficult, especially at that time. The former graffiti supplier in Munich was mainly selling the brands exclusively, so only one shop in each city could carry a certain brand, which was common at the time.
We started out as an exclusive Montana Colors Shop, selling Spanish products only. Cans&Co offered a small variety of Hardcore cans. After we placed our order via telephone or fax at the first MTN office located in Hannover, the shipment was delivered in 30kg boxes from Henxs in the Netherlands.
Right around the time of our opening, the factory in Spain burst into flames, which caused big supply difficulties for us, and was a challange for our new business, especially at the beginning.
MTN: How did you promote the new business back then?
P: Internet for promotion didn’t exist in the early 2000’s, so friends and I handed out flyers and stickers at hip-hop jams, parties and in the city centre.
Word of mouth advertising was and still is important.
MTN: What do you like about the neighbourhood where the shop is located?
P: Maxvorstadt, the district where my shop is based, is one of the most central neighbourhoods of Munich. Many university campuses and the museum district can be found in this corner of the city.
The shopping area here is diverse, right across the street of our shop is a small café and a record shop. The most important factor is that the "U2-Theresienstraße“ subway station is just a one minute walk away.
MTN: How would you describe the community of artists that come through the shop?
P: Writers from all over the world come to us, because over the years we made a name for ourselves through individual personal consultation. Cans &Co is one of the most valued places in Munich and southern Germany in general, when it comes to graffiti.
Due to the fact that we’re located right around the corner from the technical university, many architecture students come to us for (or in the need of) colours during the time of their final exams/projects.
Tourists who visiting the Museums also stroll by sometimes.
MTN: What is the graffiti scene like in Munich?
P: The scene in Munich was, mainly during the late 1980s- 1990s, the graffiti capital of Germany. Only a small part of people knows this nowadays, due to the fact that everyone is watching Berlin.
Writers like Loomit, Neon, Won, Scout, Lando, Cheech, Chemnoz and many more were strongly represented on the map. Especially through Loomit, an international network was created in this early times.
Munich has some pretty good murals, but besides that the stree tart isn’t any different to the one in other cities. Although its worth mentioning, that the city only furthers the talents of a very small amount of graffiti artists. It´s a pity that the City doesn’t promote the diversity of Munich’s current graffiti scene, like it is in reality.
There are sadly not many short-term exhibitions about graffiti at the moment, but Museums like the Muca exist. They opened the Kunstlabor2 for five years, where different artists, many of them have their roots in graffiti, can display their work.
We are lucky, that the Kunstlabor2 has offered us the opportunity to use their spaces for our 20th year anniversary on July 9th 2022. The party will consist of a classic hip-hop jam, a live graffiti battle, and also a concert are planned, but it will be more punk instead of hip-hop.
Won, SatOne, Loomit, Lando, Fanta and the ADK Crew are some of the most known artists here in Munich, when it comes to legal graffiti and contract works. Loomit and Lando for example also founded an urban art association.
My absolute favourite writer however is WON from the ABC Crew. His pieces, especially the ones he did in schwabing at elisabethmarkt, the dragon train or the works at poccistrasse and Feierwerk, left a deep imprint on me and inspired me to start graffiti. I guess without him I would’ve never started writing.
MTN: Which spots do you recommend to visitors for painting or checking out spraycan art?
P: In comparison to the past, there are sadly not many places for spotting left in Munich. In the late 80’s we had the biggest Hall of Fame in Europe (till 1989). Over the years there were fewer and fewer places where everybody had a chance to paint.
Nowadays there is only one place left, The Schlachthof premises @ Tumblingerstrasse due to the emergence of a new club area and artist studios. The gentrification of these spaces takes up more and more room, so the original character of the graffiti vibe slowly gets lost.
The abandoned Olympia train station is also a common place to go, even though it’s not legal to paint there. It’s not uncommon that you’ll meet wannabe influencers there, who want to get a picture in front of a piece.
Murals and contract works are spread all over the city. The donnersbergerbrücke, one of the biggest bridges in Munich, for example was painted by many local famous writers, for one time only :-(
The best place for spotting s-bahnen and regional trains is the station „Ostbahnhof“, almost all trains running through there.
Spotting subways in Munich is, especially for visitors, pretty complicated, because you need a lot of knowledge of how and where. Painted subways also don’t run usually.
As perviously mentioned, we have the gallery Muca ( Museum of Urban and Contemporary art Munich - Hotterstr. 12, 80331 München) and the Kunstlabor2 (Dachauerstr.90) from the same guys.
The collective common grounds, a group of people who actively apply for temporary use of vacant lots, recently got the grounds of an old spirits factory (Branntweinareal) in the east of Munich. The factory will turn into an open space for young artists and hopefully also be a new place where graffiti writers can display their work.
Tagging and bombing in Munich is very common, but the graffiti gets buffed as quick as it appears. Munich is a very clean and rich city, so authorities don’t tolerate tags and bigger pieces.
I should mention as a sidenote that even many of the noise barriers and bridges along the highway get painted grey again.
MTN: What are some of the special or unusual products that you carry in the shop?
P: For about 12 years, our motto was “colorful shoes, colorful cans”. This year we unfortunately have to stop selling sneakers.
We focus on a having a stock of a wide variety of different colors, offer special edition products, exclusive Cans&Co merchandising and other clothing accessories.
Our Cans&Co merchandise consists of hoodies, shirts and caps, which have a different design every year. The shirts are tourist- favourites, because they’re only available in-store.
Some exclusive products like our own beermats, lighters or 5l + 3L pumpsprayer were also available in the past.
We’re always open for collaborations, like the Limited Edition can collaboration with MTN and BURNS124 that just came out.
MTN: Do you offer anything else aside from art supplies?
P: Cans&Co also carries of course a big range of markers and (urban-)art supply in our “non paint section”. We offer for example MTN-T-Shirts, Stance socks, shirts and hoodies from local artists, which we want to encourage and support; sunglasses, caps, beanies and waist bags.
The window of our shop is also used as a small gallery space, where we offer artists to display their work for a timespan of three weeks.
We are also connected to workshops for young and old, lead by experienced writers.
Our MTN bestsellers are most definitely the 94 and Hardcore cans, as single product the black nitro 400 and 500ml can.
The special edition cans are always on stock at the release date, as long as the stock lasts.
MTN: Do you have any unusual/funny stories or anecdotes from your experiences of running a graffiti shop?
P: There are definitely many funny and odd stories to tell from the past 20 years as a shop owner.
One of my favourites is surely about a customer who only pointed out the products he needed with a small laserpointer and refused to speak with me. The funny part is, that I always pitied him, as I thought he lost his voice through an injury or illness. Well, it turned out later, that the young man hadn’t actually lost his voice, but had decided to take a vow of silence.
We allowed our customers to order and collect via telephone during the lockdown in 2020, which was the only reason I found out that the man could actually speak (and sounded beautiful as well). I was baffled after coming to this realisation.
After this encounter he never spoke to me or my employees again and remained silent until this very day. Maybe he’ll say something to me after reading this!
Cans & Co. is a must visit for artists and streetwear fans alike. Pay them a visit if you’re in Munich: Theresienstraße 55, 80333 München, Germany.
Discover the new Cans and Co. X BURNS124 MTN Limited Edition here.ShareAugust 17, 2022