Publisher’s Note – it’s easy to say “support your local skate shop.” It’s quite another to really get behind those folks working tirelessly to keep skateboarding moving forward by nurturing the next generation of riders. Joseph Burnham, the founder and proprietor of Kansas City, Missouri’s Burning Spider Stoke Company is a beacon to skaters world-wide. He’s also a great person. Remember “stoke” is not a commodity you can get online Stoke is a bi-product of skateboarding.  And sometimes you gotta BUY the product at the LOCAL skate shop! We want to share skateboarding with as many people as possible.  We love everything about it.  There is instant feedback with skateboards.  If you screw up.  You get off balance.  You fall.  You then chose. You could just opt out. “Nope.  Not my game.  Not my kind of pain.” You can get back on, destined to fall again. “Yeah.  I can do this.  I want to do this. I have healed, and now I am stronger.” It is that decision almost every time we step on a board, or fall off.  When we finish a session.  When a good friend gets injured, sometimes bad.   So if not for the support of each other in this otherwise completely mundane and often brutal world? Then why not devote that level of dedication to every decision we make?  From the food we put in our bodies.  The people we associate with.  How we treat ourselves, and others.  Where we spend our money in our community.  How we invest our time and energy? It is with this we wish to fill our day.  It is our absolute delight that we are able to serve such a rad community of people.  From the companies that tolerate our perhaps bizarre system of keeping it all together, barely.  To the people in our day to day that we get to encourage and watch grow.  We have learned so much in these five years, and we are just getting warmed up. We instigate as much skateboarding as we possibly can, through as many channels as we can.  We aren’t saying we are the best, only that in what our community has allowed us to build with their contribution, is a lot of fun, as well as rewarding.  As we get things continually smoother and we learn a bit more there is no telling what kind of shenanigans are going to be going down.  If you spent a month with us, it would all start off with either a first Sunday, or a First Friday. Photo: Joe B. In the case of June’s 2017 layout we would be talking First Fridays down at the Cross Roads.  This is more of a Kansas City tradition really, but it gets us out of the shop early on a Friday night and we get to skate with our peoples.   First Fridays is a gathering of all sorts of tribes.  There are art galleries that have shows.  Small makers collaboratives.  Street performers.  You name it.  Oh and us.  There is a really sweet free ride hill that cuts down one side of the whole shindig.  Despite the sometimes heavy traffic we get in some pretty solid lines.  We get to demonstrate what it is we can do.  The crowd can get pretty pumped up so this is a lot of fun.  Not to mention a great way to meet new people and give them a good example of the possibilities that skateboarding can offer. First Sunday brings the Indian Creek Push Trail series.  This is now it’s second year and the band of regulars that push it are The Push Scouts.  We have 3 distances someone can push.  25, 50, and 75 mile plans.  Most of it is on trails, but the latter is a pretty sweet early start that rips through town.  We have teamed up with the Shralpers Union’s local chapter to help with logistics and support, as well as Seismic, and Ultimate Directions for some gear at the end of the year.  We keep track of our times on the trail to measure each persons progress.  At the end of the year we present awards for Best 25 Mile Time, Best 50 Mile Time, and Best 75 Mile time.  We also have a category for Most Improved in each of those segments.  Mainly we just tell stories about all of the goings on on the trail and so forth.  This has built a community that  takes on a Father’s Day weekend event called the Knob Noster Knasty.  This is a 69 mile per day two day fiesta smashed into a camping trip.  You know we have a strong Shralpers Union Chapter so support is on point, planned out, and ready.  It is a sunny little push filled with road kill, no see-um speed killing rocks, and a real nice challenge.  There may not be any mountains to push up, but the uphill pushes go on forever, and the downhill sections are too short. Second Sunday we host our Stoke Clinics at Kessler Park. It is closed to cars on the weekends, and features are quarter mile downhill section, as well as a nice flat area.  This makes it ideal to teach a really broad range of different skill levels and styles of skateboarding.  We kick things off with a optional two hour push along Cliff Drive’s section of road that runs through the park for people wanting to build themselves up for the Indian Creek Trail or long distance pushing in general.  Then at 12pm we bring as the shop’s collection of boards to the bottom of the hill and start teaching people what it is they want to learn.  Photo: Joe B. Most of the boards were provided by Loaded Longboards, with wheels by Orangatang.  The local chapter of the Shralpers Union teamed up with us to complete the decks the rest of the way.  So people don’t even need to own a board if they want to try several different styles.   We teach people from “never stood on a board before”, to working with our local group of regular riders to improve whatever it is they are wanting to improve.  The huge range of riding styles, the huge range of riding skill levels, all the different styles of boards we bring out, and the 3 years of teaching these all come together to hopefully give people the best start to as far as they want to take it education we can possible offer.   This location also is also used to host our annual, for the most part, event call King of Kessler.  Which is the center event of a three event weekend including a swap meet (Third Friday), and our local Green Skate event (the Sunday After). King of Kessler is a triathlon of skateboarding styles.  We kick it all off with a 5 mile push, then a Downhill race, and finish with a Free Ride segment.  Each rider gets points for participation in each of the segments and how they finished.  At the end of the day, the rider with the most points is crowned King of Kessler. The groms get to be compete for Prince, and the Shralpers Union keep on eye out for the most stoked high five giving person at the event so that we can hand them the Noel Korman Award.   Third Fridays bring us back to the shop for our Swap Meets!  We invite our community to hang out with us and buy, sell, trade their old gear like we had to do back before the internets.  This was a bit of a scary leap for us, but as time has went on the benefits to us as a shop and more importantly the benefits to the community at large have kept these things going.   I have had a few shop owners raise their eyebrow on this one for sure, but just bear with me for a few sentences.  When I have customers that come in and they are looking for a set up at a lower price, those dudes are on a budget.  Granted many of those new or budget skaters may not understand all that goes into a board and how price paid for a board can have an impact on quality.  If they are on a budget, and it’s a firm one, and I don’t have a set up that is quality for the price those people will walk.  It isn’t money the shop was getting anyways.  Those customers would go to a discount internet shop or some corporate big box shop and then purchase a set up that is most likely not a very safe or fun option.  Photo: Caleb Scott With the Swap Meets we can offer the budget or brand new skater a safe, quality, option.  This takes old gear out of the B/S/T groups and on the road being used.  Typically the person will then have budget dollars left over to get their used purchase fixed up with fresh grip.  Most of the times fresh bearings, hardware, and other bits and pieces that otherwise would not have been purchased at all.   The amount of information people get at the Swap Meet is huge as well.  Instead of just one passionate person talking about skateboards, we have a huge chunk of community with different perspectives putting in their two cents as well.   Let’s not forget the big thing for the sellers.  Those dudes, peoples, our people get cash as well!  Does that come back to the shop instantly?  Nope not all the time, a lot of the time, but not all the time.  That is ok though.   We aren’t here to take all the money.  We are here to keep our community as happy, as healthy as they allow themselves to be, and equipped with the best information and gear we can reasonably get.  We want to curate our community to include as many different styles of skateboarding as we can possible facilitate.  The rest of the month is typically now filled up with events from neighboring communities. Mostly being hosted by people that came to our clinics and other events when they started.  These people are now stepping up and adding value and diversity to our community in ways that we can not do by ourselves. When the weekend isn’t filled up with something “official”, we like to get onto our local community group and get some sessions going somewheres somehow. Photo: Joe B. We take a special interest in the growing number of articles foretelling the doom and eventual irrelevance of the “Brick and Mortar” skate shop.             We see the need for them increasing.  Are we able to keep up with the internet guys?  Nope.  Our purpose is different, our effects can be felt in a different way.  As the world gets faster and satisfaction comes at the speed of a clicking button, face to face real touching hugging feeling is lost.  Getting to teach one on one with direct contact and the look of real enjoyment and sheer delight when you can coach someone to the right movement in skateboarding is like nothing you can find behind a screen.           We are the guardians of where our industry is heading.  The way in which we choose to serve our communities, the products we bring in and introduce to our friends.  The causes we put our energy and focus into, and the manner we present them to our little corners of a shrinking world are all things that you and I control.  Is it easy? Nope. It is down right heart-breaking work sometimes.  We believe in what we do, and we aim to cultivate a ideal that with enough hard work, persistence, and love, all things can be built, and sustained in a way that anyone can be supported.  We love the brilliant people we get to see on the day to day, our customers and riders.  We love the vendors we get to introduce to our people.  We do this because we love it.   You want to know what the world needs?  More skateboarding.  If more people skateboarded, we wouldn’t have time to fight, be angry, and say stupid hurtful things on the internet.  We would be so tired from a day filled with as much skateboarding as we could get, we would just fall asleep.  Next day’s intent, facilitate more skateboarding, whether that is through a job or whatever the end intent would be to skate.  Mix . Rinse. Repeat.  That is our ideal day.  That is our ultimate goal that we work towards.  The rest, takes care of itself.  Don’t believe me.  It can’t work.  Talk to me again in another 5 years. Shralp It. If you find yourself in KC – go visit and tell them CW sent you! Burning Spider Stoke Company1603 W 39th St
Kansas City, Missouri, MO 64111
(816) 898-0122