Six years ago, I did an in-depth interview with Chris Brunstetter of Goldcoast for my old blog, Everything Skateboarding. That interview is still accessible online, and can be found here:
Now that I’ve returned as a contributing writer for Concrete Wave Magazine’s website, I decided that I’d make catching up with Chris “Job Number One”. Six years is almost an eternity in the skateboard world; I thought it’d be interesting to compare and contrast where Chris (and Goldcoast) were back then, versus where they’re at today.
I believe that it’s very important for the skateboard consumer to be well aware of who and what, exactly, they are supporting when they buy a product. That said, I thought that it was high time for a recurring feature that sheds a brighter light on the brains behind the brands. Without further ado, I hereby present Mr. Brunstetter:
Chris, thanks for sitting down with us to answer a few questions; we all appreciate it. “We all” not just being us at the magazine; the readers, I’m sure, will appreciate it too. It’s been a solid six years since we last chatted. In that time, how have things changed in your life? In the world of skateboarding? And, with Goldcoast?
First of all, I can’t believe it’s been six years! Almost nothing in my life is the same as it was when we talked before, my skateboarding has evolved to include way more cruising and just pumping around a bowl or skatepark. My kids are starting to skate themselves, and now I’m starting to see how my love for skateboarding is affecting their lives. The skateboard industry has gone through another boom/bust cycle with the longboard and cruiser category, so by way of that, GoldCoast has had to remain nimble and really look at ways to keep pushing the potential of this category without losing sight of who we are. We’ve opened two new distribution centers, begun building all our completes at our HQ in Salt Lake and Amsterdam (for our European customers) and completely revamped our shape matrix, Century Truck designs, and our Shred Boots Wheel line. It’s been six years of learning, travelling, and of course, skateboarding!
Chris Brunstetter of Goldcoast
When I came back to the magazine, I was blown away at how diversified skateboarding… and, the industry… has truly become. There seem to be literally dozens of new brands in the marketplace that simply didn’t exist five years ago. What’s your stance on that, and how does Goldcoast approach the market in light of all that sudden competition? How do you differentiate yourselves in an industry that’s flooded with so many brands?
Brand differentiation in this market is really tough. There’s a lot of great product out there and from where we were six years ago to where we are now, our product is better than ever. That being said, when we started the brand and began working with Concrete Wave, there was no one in the market really taking the design-centric approach to their product (with the exception of Buddy Carr) and now there are a ton of people who look strikingly similar, so we differentiate by continually evolving our product, strengthening our relationships with our accounts, and really being involved with our customers. Over six years we’ve developed amazing relationships with people all over the world and it’s been one of the coolest experiences to see what we’ve created impact so many people.
How would you describe Goldcoast to somebody that’s never heard of the brand? Or, to somebody that might not be particularly familiar with it?
We are a design-driven skateboard brand that wants to be your favorite ride, whether you’ve been skating for one month or twenty years. When someone looks at our brand, we want them to say, “Oh that’s fun.” We’re not out to be the gnarliest dudes on the street, we’re “aggressively casual”.
It wasn’t too long ago that the overall market was very divided between “skateboarders” (ie, “vert and street skaters”) and “longboarders” (basically, everybody else); does that divide still exist in 2016…? Or have we finally gotten to a place where everybody’s a skateboarder, regardless of what kind of board they might choose to ride?
It’s getting better, for sure. Just judging by the social media comments we receive the number of “that’s not a real skateboard” type of interactions are way lower for us now. I think a lot of that comes down from the retailers who have been saved by longboarding’s boom during the street skateboard downturn that has realized that more feet on skateboards are always a good thing. We try to be really careful to refer to our company as a skateboard brand first, and really want to show people using this product in as many ways as possible.
If I may, I’d like to talk “retail” for a minute or two. Is there still a place for the “core brick-and-mortar retailer” in the marketplace? Or, are we seeing a steady migration to online retail that will ultimately end in the eventual demise of the core retailer?
That’s a tough question. In my opinion, retail has shifted in a way that will never go back to the way things were. The evolution has weeded out a lot of people who unfortunately weren’t able to adapt. But people that have been able to create more of an experience while shopping, building their brand as a retailer to give customers something they can’t get anywhere else, and diversified themselves to maintain their place as the tastemakers in skateboarding have succeeded. One of the best “core” shops in our backyard, Milosport, is having some of the best years they’ve seen in a long time. They have worked their asses off to make that happen, they didn’t just throw their arms up and say, “Well, the internet won”.
What does Goldcoast do (if applicable) to insure the viability of the core skate shop? Do you offer, for example, MSRP’s? Protected territories? Exclusive product that’s only available at core retailers?
We have MSRPs, reps that service the core accounts, and we try and work with our retailers so that it’s easy to do business with us. We support contests and marketing efforts that our retailers have, basically try and do as much for them as they do for us. Be a partner in the business.
Besides the seasonal changes in product offerings, how has the Goldcoast product line changed and/or improved in the last six years?
I can say with total confidence that our product is better than it has ever been. It’s been a constant process of improvement, and I couldn’t be prouder. We have new manufacturing partners who are committed to the success of our brand, plus we’ve got total control over our product from the factory level to the shipping dock.
Which Goldcoast setup do you personally ride the most, and why?
Like I mentioned earlier, I’m doing a lot more cruising and skatepark skating these days. I have the Classic Bamboo Cruiser and the Death To Summer Pool Deck, Century C60 Trucks, Helshredica Bearings, and Shred Boots Burnouts Wheels for my park setup.
What’s the “age limit” on skateboarding? Or, is there such a thing? How long do you see yourself skating?
I’ll keep skating as long as I physically can. Even if it’s just a push around the neighborhood, that does so much for me mentally. It keeps me young. There’s no age limit, you just have to be comfortable being the “old guy”!
Here’s an interesting question that I’m basing on personal experience. When I had my company, I was amazed that I only spent maybe twenty percent of my time actually running my company; the other eighty (or so) percent was mostly spent talking to kids, and answering all of their various questions. Do you have the same experiences in your role as a brand manager? If so, what sorts of things do the kids ask you? And what kinds of answers (or advice) do you give them?
My role in managing the brand has evolved a ton over the years. Six years ago, there was Facebook and kind of Twitter. Now you have a new social media platform emerging every 15 minutes that you have to at least be aware of if you don’t have time to focus on it. 80 percent of my time is spent in that realm these days. Engaging with our fans, answering questions, letting people know that there is a human being on the other side of their screen. I get all sorts of questions. Kids are straight up aggressive on social media asking for free product. I am shocked at how that lack of face to face connection eliminates all politeness. “You should send me a board.” Is the one that I get all the time. Really dude? That’s your opening line? Then you’re offended when you get shut down? It makes me laugh. I took about 20 minutes to explain to a kid on Instagram how sponsorship works, what he could do to get on the road to that, but all he heard was that I wasn’t just going to send him a board, he told me I should kill myself. That was fun, definitely time well spent. I love chatting with people from all over about where they skate, how they came to find GoldCoast, etc. Google Translate is a great tool!
In what ways does Goldcoast “give back” to the market that supports it? How does the company support the “greater good” of the pastime?
We try to support our retailers in their events as much as possible. We’re a small crew so it’s hard for us to really take the reins on stuff, but if there’s cool stuff going on we want to be a part of it. We try to support the “skateventure” movement as much as possible. If someone is taking a cool trip and needs a board, we’ll try and help out. It has gotten us some amazing product photos.
“Women in skateboarding” still seems to be a hot-button issue these days… which seems kind of weird to me, because I think everyone should skate (if they want to), regardless of age, gender, race, nationality, or religious affiliation. And I support all skaters, regardless of their age, gender, race, nationality, or religious affiliation. What’s Goldcoast’s stance on this? Is the industry doing enough to empower and encourage everyone to participate in, and enjoy, skateboarding? If not: what could, or should, we be doing differently as an industry…?
This topic amazes me. That “we” as an industry should say no to anyone skateboarding is insane. GoldCoast wants as many people on skateboards as possible. We don’t make girl specific product, but our customer base has a ton of girls who love the brand. Exclusion doesn’t work for us.
Where do you see skateboarding, and Goldcoast, in the next five to ten years? What challenges and opportunities lay ahead for both the company, and skateboarding in general?
Skateboarding in the next 5 years is going to change a ton. With it going into the Olympics, there’s going to be a global awareness of the sport that it has never seen. That could be a great thing, or a horrible thing, depending on your view. I’ve seen skateboarding go from something pretty specific to something that a bunch of people interprets differently. Basically, when I was a kid, if you were a skateboarder, you were a street skateboarder. Now, it’s like, what does skateboarding mean to you? Is it a creative outlet, a career path, transport, exercise, a competitive sport, a cool accessory? I see people that fall into all those categories and more. I hope GoldCoast is there to be the board that people look back on as their favorite when it’s all said and done. The opportunity to make an impact on someone’s life by being their favorite skateboard is something that always inspires me.
For more info visit skategoldcoast.com