The Editor Speaks: Let's Talk Shop

The Editor Speaks: Let's Talk Shop

 I’ve been on tour for the better part of the spring and summer. If you’ve been reading my monthly tour articles on the Concrete Wave website, then you’ve probably figured that one out already. One of the most fascinating, yet totally depressing set of experiences that I’ve had so far on my tour have involved brick and mortar skate shops. It’s a subject that I’ve written several essays about in the last few months, although I have yet to publish any of them.  It’s not exactly an easy topic to take on, because I know damn good and well that passions, both positive and negative, are immediately going to flare up. If you don’t believe me, then check out some of my recent Facebook posts to see those passions hard at work for yourself. On the other hand: I do feel like the subject does need to be discussed in an open and honest manner, sooner rather than later. If I didn’t, then I’d be shirking my responsibilities as a writer and as a journalist. Hopefully, nobody in their right mind would ever want that. Whenever I go into a skate shop on tour, I never go in there as “Bud Stratford, the Executive Director of Concrete Wave Magazine”. No way, that would be totally self-defeating; going into a shop as “some dude with a fancy-pants title” would not serve me well at all. They’d probably be pretty impressed by that, roll out a few red carpets, and schmooze me a little bit, just because of my “perceived industry insider” status. Don’t laugh: it happens. But that’s not really what I’m going for here. So in my world, the fancy-pants title is actually a pretty big hindrance. As a longtime industry analyst, I what I really want to see and experience is the same exact stuff that the everyday kid experiences when they go into a skate shop. That sort of real-world experience helps me to spot emerging trends and propose industry initiatives long before my analyst-insider competition ever could. Plus, the magazine is very “down for the people”, anyway. We genuinely feel like we work on the behalf of the everyday kid first and foremost, even if that means kicking the industry chaps in the nuts from time to time. We are, after all, The Media. That’s what we’re designed to do. Retaining my relative anonymity, and going in there as an everyday skater… or, at times, as an everyday dad window shopping for his skateboarding stepson… generally gets me that real-deal perspective that I’m looking for. Thankfully, I’m still relatively unknown and anonymous enough that it still works out the way I was hoping it would, almost every single time. I call this “mystery shopping”, because I’m not quite revealing who and what I really am when I walk into these places. As such, I suppose I am being slightly disingenuous about my true identity. However, it’s not really “mystery shopping”, as it’s commonly defined. Most “professional mystery shoppers”, at the end of the day, still work for the retailers that are paying them for their shopping experience and their feedback. My reality is way different. I’m not paid by anybody to do what I do. Not even the magazine; my summer tour has been completely self-funded, straight out of my own pocket. And I’m not just “playing the role” of a typical customer; I actually am a typical customer, through and through.  Those are pretty big differences well worth keeping in mind.  Through the eyes of an avid traveler There’s another huge difference between me, Mr. Aging Touring Skater, and the everyday average kid that might need to be mentioned. As a traveling skateboarder, skate shops are absolutely critical to the success of my touring endeavors. I look at them much like the average citizen might look at a gas station, I suppose; as a convenient place to stop, rest, recharge, maybe get directions relating to where I might find the local skateparks and skate spots. As well as being the best place to find insight and enlightenment about what’s going on, and what’s hot, in the local skate scene. Their importance really cannot be overstated, because there’s nobody else out there on the horizon that can really do the job. The local skate shop, when seen through the eyes of a roving journalist, can single-handedly make (or break) the local skate scene in much the same way that they can make or break a skate scene through the eyes of the average, everyday skater. The only difference between me, and them, is that I see it a few hundred times a year, all across the country. The average kid only sees it in terms of what’s going on in their immediate backyard, and in their local skate scene. So in that regard, the ‘ol brick and mortar probably isn’t so critical and/or crucial to the average kid as they might be to me, as an avidly touring skater. Or, just maybe, the more accurate reality is that the average kid doesn’t recognize the importance of a really good skate shop as quickly as I might. I might see it a bit more clearly, because I’ve seen hundreds of skate shops fail in my time. Far too many of them, just since my 2008 tour. As a touring skater, my travels have suffered the serious consequences. It’s just no fun at all to drive into a strange new town, knowing nothing at all about the skate scene… only to look in the phone book (or on my smartphone) for a local skate shop… find that there’s none around… and realize, to my sullen surprise, that there’s nobody around to help me out and about. A world without skate shops, in my world, is a super lonely place. But the average kid that hasn’t driven a few thousand miles in my shoes hasn’t experienced that loneliness, in quite the same excessively extreme way that I have. Maybe they’re lucky. Maybe they’ve always had a great shop in their community that still survives, and thrives to this day. Or maybe, they’ve never been lucky enough to have a local skate shop to lose in the first place. Or maybe they’re just unlucky enough to have a local skate shop that sucks so hard, they’d be far happier if it just died and went away.  The Exceptions Of course, there are exceptions. Of course, there are still great skate shops out there in the world. They might be in the minority. But they do exist, and they do deserve credit and support. I’m not afraid of naming a few of the standout shops that I’ve come across this summer. Sidewalk Surfer in Scottsdale; Active in Tempe; The Sk8 Haus in Surprise; Freedom in Mesa; Beachcombers in Lake Havasu City… that’s the Top Five so far (in no particular order), while 91 West remains the standout private skatepark worth mentioning. I was up in Prescott last weekend attending a contest hosted by the local shop, the Prescott Skate Stop, that I was really impressed with; I keep hearing great all sorts of great stuff about that shop, too, although I wouldn’t know about any of it firsthand (they were, naturally enough, closed up tight last weekend because of the contest). I’m sure there will be a few more notable standouts by tour’s end. But so far, those have been the best of the best. They all shared the same best practices, of course. They were all genuinely super-friendly, knowledgeable, community-engaged scene activists with great product selections covering a wide swath of the skateboarding spectrum. Those are the timeless consistents. And they all do those “timeless consistents” really well, and really right. As a touring skater, customer care and service, local scene activism and awareness, and product availability and knowledge are critical keys to the success of my tour. It’s in these three areas, specifically, that I’m continually let down by the skate shops that I’ve been visiting this summer.  The Biggest Bummer: Customer Care and Service This is, by far, the biggest disappointment of them all so far out there on the road. You’d think that a skater, working at a skate shop, would be the perfect situation. That skaters would have a natural tendency to look out for, and look after, other skaters. That skate shop employees would be the coolest, friendliest, and most helpful people in the entire world. That walking into a skate shop… any skate shop on the planet… would immediately feel more like “home” than home itself. You would probably like to think these things, and I would definitely like to think think these things. But that rarely happens for me, in practice, out on the road. That’s nothing less than absolutely f’n depressing. There seems to be this weird belief among skate shop owners… and especially among their cooler-than-you, shitheaded little skateshop employees… that skaters somehow thrive on being abused by the “skate shop cool club”. That it’s all part of some obscure hazing regimen, the price of “the dues” that every skater pays to be indoctrinated into the holy inner sanctum of skate core-dom or something. To top it off, this belief is remarkably widespread. It seems to happen at about eighty percent of the shops that I walk into these days. Which pisses me straight off, every single time it happens. Now, I’m not sure which sludge-for-f’n-brains thought this crazy notion up, or when this obvious lapse of reason and rationale occurred. But let me assure you, it is complete and total bullshit. Skaters are really not that unlike any other customer on the planet. They like to be treated kindly and respectfully, and taken care of, just like anyone else. I’m the customer, fucko. Nobody is cooler than I am. Maybe the problems are the shop employees themselves. Typically cheap, inexperienced, teenage labor working their first-ever “real job”, skate shop employees have never been the harbinger of efficient, fast, or friendly service anyway. Add to that the oversized entitlement and craptastic “work ethic” of The Millennial Generation, and it becomes really easy to see why my mystery-shops have been sucking so f’n hard on my summer tour.  Local Scenes and Community Activism Every skate shop in the world that knows their stuff, and knows it well, should have these three things in their shop, at all times, readily at hand. These three things are: – A photocopied list of local skateparks, complete with their “proper” names, addresses, descriptions, and directions, that can be handed out to anyone who asks for it on a moment’s notice, – A city map, tacked up somewhere in the shop, showing where these skateparks are in relation to the shop (which would nicely complement that list that you just handed me), and – Another photocopied and free to hand-out list of all the upcoming skateboard community events, including the events that your skate-shop competitors and local skate activists are throwing, that are happening within a couple hours’ drive of the shop. That list should be made out three months in advance, and full of fun stuff to do, see, and experience at all times. If that list is lacking, then it’s high time to get crackin’ and get to planning some get-togethers. A lot of the shops that I go into will tell me, ad nauseum, about “how much they’re doing for their local skate scene”. Which is great and all, except for this tiny little tidbit of a practical problem: I’m not seeing much actual evidence of it, anywhere. When I go into a shop and ask their salespeople what they have coming up for local skate events… about eighty percent of them will tell me, point blank, “nothing”. Nothing…? “Nope. Nothing”. That, to me, is absolutely criminal. Events are not difficult, nor expensive, to put together. That’s total catcrap, a long-disproven fallacy. How hard is it to take three seconds to scribble up a quick flyer that says, “Hey! Let’s all meet at the park on Friday afternoon to skate! 5 pm, be there or be square!” Shit, man… I owned a skateboard company for ten years. We hosted skate jams every single week, hardly missing a beat (unless it was raining or snowing), for ten years straight. Ask anyone that skated in or around Concord, New Hampshire between 1991 and 2001; they’ll tell ya. And you guys (and gals) that run skateshops today actually have the audacity to try to tell me how “difficult and expensive” it is to throw a weekly community skate session? I’m sorry, I’m just not hearing your blabbering right now. It can be done. All you need to have is a caring disposition, some initiative, and a little bit of creativity. At the end of the day, though, a healthy, vibrant, and engaged community is still built on the shoulders of empowered, engaged, and encouraged individuals. If your salespeople cannot bring themselves to treat any given individual with common courtesy and genuine human respect, then I simply won’t believe your shop’s endless claims of “caring about the skateboarding community”. That whole “customer care and service” thing really cannot be overstated enough.  Antisocial Media It’s not like brick-and-mortar skate shops aren’t trying. They’re just doing way too many of the wrong things, and not enough of the right ones. Every shop that I go in to, absolutely prides itself on their social media and e-tailer presence. They’ll talk about it for hours, like nothing else exists in the world these days except for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And that’s great as far as it goes, I suppose. Except for one teeny tiny little oversight on somebody’s part: I’m not a computer. I’m a human being. So ultimately, no, I’m not quite as impressed by your “virtual cloud-based internet friend community” as I am by your living, breathing, analog skateboarding community. Like most kids in the world today, I just don’t have the time anymore to follow 50,000 Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram news feeds. When would I…? I’m always too busy using the internet to plan my next skate-tour itinerary. Besides, “social media” is turning into an antisocial cesspool of utter blah. There’s no redeeming humanity to be found there anymore (as if there ever was in the first place). Everybody is pretty much doing the same exact thing, in pretty much the same exact ways, on the same exact social media, as every other everybody in the world… which ultimately means that nobody really stands out anymore. The whole thing has blown its wad and gone straight to hell, as all good things must do eventually. Any skate shop (or skate company) that is relying on the quick and convenient laziness, and the quickly diminishing returns of social media to drive customer traffic to their door is about five years behind the times. It all seems so intrinsically self-defeating, really. Web traffic is only gonna naturally drive customers to web retailers; that’s a no-brainer. No matter how great your e-tail presence is, there’s still a million of those out there already, most of them better-stocked, better-staffed, and cooler than yours. So driving web traffic does not seem like it would be the smartest or savviest goal. Isn’t the goal of a brick-and-mortar retailer, in a perfect world, to drive foot traffic to the damn door…?! If so, then why in the hell are we relying on the web to do this in the first place? Why are we exclusively relying on a digital technology means, to pursue a purely analog ends…? Wouldn’t it be far better to build an exemplary shop that skaters (or even regular ol’, non-skateboarding people) would happily spend a few hours’ worth of drive time to experience firsthand…? An analog shopping tour de force?  At that point, you wouldn’t really need to “invest in social media”. If you build a truly great skate shop, then everyone will be all over social media, talking you up on your behalf. If you feel like you need to be the Joe talking yourself up every sixty seconds on antisocial media, then I’d say you’ve got a real problem on your hands, buddy.   The Competition As an industry insider, I hear a lot of griping from skate shops these days. Some of it is totally valid. At least, it is at first glance. There’s way too many e-tailers in the world; they have an unfair built-in pricing and inventory advantage (mostly due to the lower overheads, or lack thereof); they can offer free shipping and steep discounts because of the volumes they move (and accordingly, buy)… and on and on it goes. I’m not so sure that I’m buying that argument anymore. I don’t think that the internet is out there, actively stabbing brick and mortar skateshops in the back. I think that what’s really happening here are that the shops… through apathetic, abusive, or unimaginative business practices… are largely killing themselves. The only thing that the internet is really doing these days, is providing a readily available alternative. If I were an average kid these days, and I had to deal with this sort of bullshit that I’m dealing with on tour on a regular basis… well, I’d probably be spending the bulk of my time shopping online, too. Oh, wait! I am. I still do most of my skate-shopping with Mike Hirsch at SoCal Skateshop, who always treats me professionally respectful, and personally awesome. Or, thanks to the emerging direct-to-consumer trend, directly with the brands who have consistently treated me similarly kindly. It’s not like I’ve abandoned the “core retailer”; I still shop at good shops from time to time. I just have the luxury of freely and easily avoiding the assholes now. So, I do. The brick-and-mortar has a lot of competition these days. They like to blame “price competition” for that, but I think that’s a cop out. I haven’t really noticed if I’m personally paying more or less for anything by shopping online. I’m just getting treated better. That’s all. I suspect that most of your “everyday mystery shoppers” might be telling you much the same thing. Except they’re not saying anything right to your face; customers just don’t have the time or the energy these days for confrontation or explanation. They’re simply turning around, marching off, and voting with their feet.  The Haters I have a pretty big ball sack. I’m definitely not afraid to take on haters and critics straightaway. And I was a bit surprised… but, not entirely shocked… to find that I had critics and haters, as I usually do, almost right from the get-go. Apparently, nobody likes some mystery-shopping asshole that’s totally unafraid to tell it like it really is out there; that sort of brute honesty is really dangerous, and could be a real threat. Of course, vested interests are going to want my ass handed to them on a silver platter. I get it. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not gonna tell them to go stuff themselves anyway. One that I remember with particular fondness, I believe, summed up the sentiments of all of my detractors in one fell swoop. Thier memorable position was something along the lines of this: “You’re just playing the role of some jerk out on the road, doing mystery shops that the shops themselves do not particularly want, and definitely did not ask for, in order to create sensationalized content for the magazine. And that whole deal is pretty unfair to the shops, themselves.” That’s pretty close to the verbatim quote, actually. And I’ve heard that piss-poor talking point a few times already this summer. Here’s the reality of the world around us, bubbo: every f’n customer that has ever walked into a skate shop, by absolute definition, is a “mystery shopper” that the shop probably did not want, and definitely did not ask for. If that’s the attitude of your typical, modern-day skate shop, then the typical, modern-day skate shop should probably throw in the towel right this second, lock up their doors forever, start marching their hides towards Hell, and don’t stop for a single moment to look back. The customer is not the adversary or the enemy here. If you really hate the customer that much, then you’ve already lost by default.  The Skateshop Of The Future Concrete Wave is the only magazine… the only media, for that matter… that is so consistently and militantly future-focused. Which is perhaps a little bit ironic, considering that we are generally perceived as a bunch of naive (or stupid) dinosaurs running an obsolete print magazine over here. Maybe the “common wisdom” isn’t quite as commonly wise as y’all would like to think it is, eh…? The skate shop of the future, in many ways, looks a hell of a lot like the dinosaur skate shop of the past. Nothing in this essay is particularly “new” at all; most of this stuff is the stuff that you used to actually find at skate shops, all the time, back in the day. It just went off the rails somewhere, for some reason. Perhaps it’s just generational; maybe it’s plain ‘ol entitlement, laziness, and apathy at work. Nobody cares about anything anymore anyway, why should skate shops be any different…? Whatever the case may be, retail isn’t going to survive… let alone, thrive… until we put this damn gravy train solidly back on track. And I suspect that it will take no less than a focused, persistent, consistent, industry-wide effort to make this happen. Make a note of that, IASC and BRA. The skate shop of the future, though, is going to be a little different from the skate shop of the past. It will start with excellent customer care and service, that’s for sure. It will be that community hub, scene advocate, event incubator, and foot-traffic destination that I dreamed up, and pretty much mandated a couple sections back. The employees will be product knowledge experts… “product geeks” might be far more accurate… that know pretty much everything about everything skate-related. They should already, because that’s one of the things that separates the legit from the fakes. If you know less than the average skater about skateboard stuff, then you’re on the outs. A lot of mall stores still fit into this category (although, to be fair, they seem to have gotten quite a bit better in the last eight years or so, which is a very real threat that’s well worth noting; Zumiez gets my “Most Improved” prize so far this season, as much as I totally hate to admit it… those bastards). The skate shop of the future will not be “the street-skating shop of the future”. That’s important to point out. Anybody can sell popsickle sticks and white-tablet wheels, so of course everybody does sell popsickle sticks and white-tablet wheels. That’s not differentiation, fellas; let’s get with the program already. And that’s not a skate shop to me. A truly legitimate skateboard enthusiasts’ lifestyle core retailer… memorize that one, because Harbaugh will be writing all about it in ten years or so… will carry the entire spectrum of skateboard hardgoods. Everything from street boards, to vert boards, to old-school shapes, to cruisers and longboards… which is generally where the best shops are at, right now, product-selection-wise… to slalom, freestyle, and downhill gear, which are forms of skateboarding that current core shops still tend to virtually ignore, for variously short-sighted reasons. If you don’t have some little bit of everything skateboarding imaginable, then you’re not a real “skate shop”; you’re a hopelessly opportunistic, lowest-common-denominator, un-original thinking, mass market profiteer. Would you like an energy drink to go with that assessment, good sir…?  Truly legitimate skateboard enthusiasts’ lifestyle core retailers exist to give skaters options and opportunities to not just get the information and the products that they might want right here, and right now, today… but if they’re really smart and forward-thinking, they should also be showcasing the types of skateboards that skateboarders might well want tomorrow, as they grow bored with whatever they’re doing, grow older, grow stiffer, and inevitably grow out of popsickles and tablets. Education and enlightenment are important aspects of the core retailer’s mission, and keeping skaters engaged and motivated to think outside the box, do a little bit of personal exploration, try some alternative types of skateboarding, and discover some new fun along the way is strategically smart business. But you almost never see that in core retailers today. I certainly don’t. And that’s one of the biggest fails of them all. The customer is changing. Long gone are the days where “the target customer” could be easily pigeonholed as a twelve-to-eighteen-year old, white suburban male. Skateshops still almost exclusively market themselves to that derivative, not quite noticing that the future market is in girls and women of all ages; older people who want to recapture their former youth (which is, incidentally, every single “older person” on the fucking planet); moms, dads, grandpas, grandmas, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters that want to share skating with their friends and family; and generally speaking, people all across religious, racial, economic, and geopolitical divides. It’s called “inclusion”, and Concrete Wave has been a longtime advocate of the concept. Consider yourselves warned: if your shop is not absolutely inclusive in nature, then you’re built to fail. Lastly: there is no way in hell that any brick-and-mortar skate shop will ever be able to have, in stock, today, at this moment, every single product that is available on the market today. There are far too many brands, making and marketing far too many individual items, for any shop to ever put them all on the walls. But the internet can do it, easily and effectively… and it does do it, all day long. How in the world is a small, independent, stand-alone skate shop ever going to compete with that…? Easy. The Industry is going to revolve. Not “evolve”, as in “evolution”. “Revolve”, as in “revolution”. First of all, we’re going to have MSRP’s all across the board, without exception, in the near future. If your brand or company does not yet have an MSRP structure in place, then you are about ten years behind; it’s well past time to get on top of that. Everyone… including the governmental powers-that-be… will eventually support, aid, and abet this idea, because the last thing that anybody in the world wants to see is a future where ninety percent of all retail space worldwide is boarded up and vacant, yielding urban and suburban blight, crime, decay, abandonment, and rampant unemployment on a massive scale. Nobody with any brains in their heads at all wants that, not even the government (which isn’t well known for being overly bright or competent, but does have a fantastic track record of being fundamentally self-serving and opportunistic). So, yeah, they will all eventually put their thinking caps on, and take a few sensible steps to avoid that. Making damned sure that retail is a valid, practical, and sustainable money-maker is a huge step toward achieving that aim. Then, we will have technology. The perfect marriage between technology and humanity. I’m envisioning small kiosks in every brick-and-mortar skate shop with little laptops on at all times, plugged into an efficient product portal somewhere, where every single skateboard item in the universe can be ordered immediately, through the shop, for home delivery… but with the added benefit of a fast, friendly, and helpful human standing right there, straight behind you, to competently and engagingly answer your 50,000 stupid questions in an inspiring and enlightening manner. What’s a spacer? Who’s Ty Page? What does a split-axle truck do? Where’s the local mini-ramp at? Sure, you can ask Jeeves any of this stuff, and that’s f’n awesome. But only living, breathing, thinking people can fill in all the gaps in your limited questioning that your inexperienced and unenlightened feeble little brain wouldn’t have even thought to ask. That’s the difference between people and computers. People, when they’re at their very best, can actually be perceptive and proactive, and answer questions that you didn’t even know… let alone, think… to ask. Computers can’t. So, there ya go. The gauntlet has now been thrown. The challenge to all skate shops, all across the country, accurately defined and fully articulated. The challenge for an entire industry to take up, and see through. This is everything that I want to see and experience, as a customer, when I’m out on the road checking out skate shops. When these things consistently materialize, that’s when I’ll finally be happy and content. And that’s when I’ll finally be able to f’n retire from this brutal business of skateboard touring, once and for all.      

A New Chapter.

A New Chapter.

 

 

As some of you may be aware, I have recently decided to turn the editorial reigns of the magazine over to Bud Stratford. You can learn a little bit more about this decision in the fine print of our Summer 2017 edition (you can read online for free here)

 

This issue’s cover story is about my trip to Jamaica and it features Brady Brown on the cover. Brady is a local ripper who I met a number of years ago at the infamous Poop Chute here in Toronto.

 

It also features awesome artwork from Chris Dyer of positive creations.

 

 

 

I have decided to publish this issue on line right now because I wanted to ensure that EVERYONE was on the same page. Our subscribers and advertisers have their copies, but it takes time to trickle the mag out to the shops.I am still the publisher and will still have stories in the magazine, but our September issue will be the first for Bud as editor.

 

The time is now for new blood to direct and create a deeply inspiring vision for inclusion within skateboarding- that is where Bud and I agree 100%.Bud started skateboarding in the 80’s which means he has a perspective on things that are unique to mine.July 2017 marks 42 years rolling and tomorrow (June 30th) is the fiscal year end for CW.

 

 

 

The skate journey I started over 2 decades ago with the skategeezer homepage is about to take another “left turn in Albuquerque.”My sincere thanks to Wentzle Ruml IV Brady Brown Luis Bustamante and the SHRALPERS UNION for their support of this issue. This issue is dedicated to the people of Jamaica and in memory of Ty Page

 

 

 

 

Wishing you all high fives and positive vibes from Toronto, Ontario.

 

Stand by for a rather intriguing announcement coming soon.

 

Loaded Take on Paris

Loaded Take on Paris


While there might be big news regarding the Paris Accord, in the world of skateboarding, Loaded Boards and Paris Trucks are pleased to announce that Loaded has taken over global distribution for Paris Trucks. 

Loaded states they’ve had a strong friendship with (Paris Truck owner) Joey Pulsifer for 10 years now and have always believed in Paris products and in Paris as a brand. 

Loaded Boards is now providing Paris product to specialty shops and distributors worldwide via its Culver City, CA headquarters.

Paris Trucks will continue to oversee all product development and marketing of Paris products. Paris’ Pulsifer pontificates: “The future is looking bright for Paris Trucks, and we’re stoked to be working with our longtime friends and awesome people at Loaded.”

 

Vans Pool Party 2017

Vans Pool Party 2017

 Dan Bourqui has put together a great video of the highlights of the competition.  

2017 VANS POOL PARTY 
FINAL RESULTS

Pros
1st  Tom Schaar
2nd Cory Juneau
3rd  Clay Kreiner

Legends
1st  Steve Caballero & Lance Mountain (Tie)
3rd Tony Magnusson

Masters
1st  Andy Macdonald
2nd  Chad Shetler
3rd Lincoln Ueda

 Dave Duncan announced and again pretty much lost his voice. The level of skating was pretty much like it always is – completely off the charts!  Steve CaballeroThis gentleman is from Tribo skate mag. (Brazil)   

Hover Skate VR

Hover Skate VR

Skateboarding finally has its first Virtual Reality video game and it’s called “Hover Skate VR”.  John Hinton, a skateboarder from Florida, developed it independently. The game is controlled with your hands and you can learn and master 250 skateboarding tricks. As its name implies, your skateboard is hovering instead of rolling, only touching down for grinds and slides. You’re in Virtual Reality world, so why not, right? As you make your way around various cityscapes, the terrain features lots of ledges, rails, and stairs.  In the pro shop you can pick which shoes you want to wear, or deck you want to ride. Hover Skate VR has teamed up with Dan MacFarlane to bring Mentality Skateboards to the game. As you virtually walk around the pro shop you can hand pick a Mentality deck off of the shelf while the “Skateboarding Realms” video trailer plays on the shop TV screen.  For the soundtrack, Missouri skateboarder and music artist Jonathan Toth From Hoth has contributed songs off his skateboarding themed album “Sick Boys” to keep you in full on skate mode as you play.     “It’s fun and challenging like real skateboarding” says Jeremy Eyring, a skateboarder and avid player of the game. Hover Skate VR is played on PC only and requires a HTC Vive, or Oculus Rift VR headset. While it’s still a work in progress you can get early access and give feedback as it is perfected and built upon.  John Hinton says he plans to add a new skatepark level to the game in the near future.  Get Hover Skate VR here.

Engaging New Skate Obstacles

Engaging New Skate Obstacles

Dan MacFarlane – fastplant nosepick. American Ramp Company is launching a new “Pro Ops” signature series of obstacles for skateparks worldwide.  Their new team of professional skateboarders have been given two different signature obstacles each for the series. The team is Dan MacFarlane, Willy Santos, Joe Moore, Ronson Lambert, Shaun Hover, Jud Heald, and Sierra Fellers. From Dan MacFarlane’s bank to wall that looks like a snapped skateboard, to Jud Heald’s recliner, the obstacles aren’t your usual run of the mill skatepark fixtures.  “That is the intent, to introduce and contribute something different to skateboarding” says Dan MacFarlane. “These obstacles also help you invent new tricks and combos. Tons of Never Been Done skate tricks and combos were happening on them!”  MacFarlane was initially signed on as a pro team rider but the ARC President Nathan Bemo liked his obstacle ideas, so he assigned MacFarlane to help design the whole series as well.   American Ramp Company’s Pro Op Team MacFarlane has pushed out two videos about the Pro Ops series on his Facebook that have received an enthusiastic response from skateboarders everywhere. The first video is a tour of the ARC warehouse where prototypes of the Pro Ops obstacles are placed throughout as the other pros are skating and workers are welding. MacFarlane tells about the obstacles in detail as he makes his way around. The second video is a fun skate video titled #WelcomeToAmerica which documents Joe Moore’s original skating on the Pro Ops obstacles and his overall experience during his visit from Leeds UK. While they are iPhone shot videos, a newer professionally shot video is in the works showcasing the team skating their Pro Ops obstacles. American Ramp Company began in 1998 and since has installed over 2,500 skateparks in 37 countries. ARC currently installs around 200 skateparks annually and specializes in high quality skatepark construction out of every build method including steel and concrete. Keep up with updates about the Pro Ops series by following American Ramp Company and the Pro Ops team riders on their social media.

ARC Pro Ops team announcement

Dan MacFarlane Pro Ops announcement tour

Joe Moore #WelcomeToAmerica    

Rolkaz Collective – Performance Meets Nature

Rolkaz Collective – Performance Meets Nature

Made solely of natural hemp and flax fibers bound together in high performance plant based resin, these new decks are all about getting back to nature.  Sustainable in both design and manufacturing, to reduce the environmental impact their Kickstarter campaign begins today.  It’s definitely worth checking out. With optimized shapes, refined construction and a premium riding experience, these hemp decks provide an innovative alternative to traditional maple. Rolkaz Hemp skateboards are an innovation in terms of processes and materials researched, tools invented, technologies used and design perfected to create the unique hemp skateboard.  They worked really hard to replace traditional skateboard materials with their sustainable alternatives to design the construction that they envisioned.  Visit rolkaz.co for more info.

Punk Rock and 1977

Punk Rock and 1977

For many skaters of the 1970’s, 1977 proved to be a crucial year. It’s when everything really started to come together for me as a skater. I was 2 years deep into skateboarding and in late 1976, I learned about punk rock. In the summer of 1977, I found myself in England. I was with my family on a trip back to visit my extended family and pick up a few records. Specifically, the Sex Pistols. It was pretty funny going into a record shop and seeing a blank space at “number 2” on the charts. The shops were so scared of putting “God Save the Queen – Sex Pistols” that they intentionally left it blank.  I still have this single. And yes, this song still sounds as good today as it did back then. When I returned home and played the song for friends at school, they couldn’t quite understand it. Three years later they had mohawks.   Well, 40 years later, I am here to warn you that we are not going to intentionally leave anything blank like that shop did. Punk rock is not just music. It is an attitude. And that attitude runs a gamut of emotions and actions. No, we’re not going to spit on you. But we are about to unleash a 6,000+ word essay (over 4 postings) that looks at the state of things in skate retail. Bud is warning me that this might ruffle a few feathers. Ruffling feathers is the essence of punk, so I think we are on the right path. Ironically punk rock came full circle last year when Malcolm McLaren’s son burned five million pounds worth of memorabilia. Talk about punk rock – that is very punk rock. But we’re not going to that extreme. Stand by…you have been warned. Special shout out to Doug Ward of Clifton, NJ for inspiring this piece.

Walking and Skating with Queens

Walking and Skating with Queens

Today is International Women’s Day and we are proud to be celebrating all female skaters (and soon to be female skaters.) I was delighted to hear from Striker Reese who heads up Walk With Queens.Lady IndiaThe company uses laser engraving to give their decks a truly dynamic look.

Cleopatra

The  debt collection entitled “OG Queens” brings female centric art to skateboard decks. The 7 ply maple decks have a limited run of 100 decks per design.

 

OG Queens draws on the  beauty of womanhood in the ancient world. They get their Inspiration from Cleopatra VII, Pharaoh Hatshepsut and many others. The vision was to combine their love of skateboarding with some much needed appreciation of womanhood.

 

Hours of research goes into the historical and cultural aspects of each design. The average production time is 5 hours just for one board.

 

Each deck takes about 5 hours to laser engrave.

 

   

Jamaica Skate Trip

Jamaica Skate Trip

Longboarding for Peace is setting off early next month for a weeklong expedition to Jamaica. I have been wanting to visit the island for many years. However, I always wanted to go with a local. I felt that if I was going to visit, I would teach skateboarding and really give something back. I am delighted to be traveling with Brady Brown (who now lives in Toronto and has deep family ties to Jamaica) and Luis Bustamante who originally hails from the Philippines. Together we will be creating a mini-documentary of our exploits. We have reached out to several Jamaican organizations and plans are underway to really engage with local skaters and schools. We’ll have a few announcements as things get firmed up. The bottom line, we are truly excited to spread the high fives and positive vibes. If you have any contacts in Jamaica that you think would benefit from Longboarding for Peace, just email.  Artist: Chris Dyer

2017 Hall of Fame Inductees

2017 Hall of Fame Inductees

 

Congratulations to All!

 

1960’s 
Bob Mohr

 

FEMALE
Kim Cespedes
Vicky Vickers

 

1970’s – ERA 1
Gregg Weaver

 

 

Russ Howell

  

 

1970’s – ERA 2
Shogo Kubo

1980’s
Mike McGill

1980’s – ERA 2
Eric Dressen

1990’s
Daewon Song

 

ICON AWARD…announced next Monday!

 

Photos courtesy of Warren Bolster

Some thoughts on Publishing A Random Skate Photo

Some thoughts on Publishing A Random Skate Photo

I received an email from a skater’s mom the other day. Here’s a snippet of what she wrote:

 

Hi Michael

 

Love this magazine and website! My son Drew is totally into tech and downhill….buddies with sergio yuppie…..you all are a very “colorful” tribe…love it! Wondering if i can add his photo to your online album?

 

Thanks

Dana

 

Well Dana, in my 20 years publishing on the web, this is the first time I’ve ever received an email like this. In honor of this groundbreaking email, your digital wish is my command:

 

Behold! The photo of your son, Drew.

As we all know, there are literally unlimited pixels on the web. I can generate hundreds of thousands of words and images and it won’t cost me much…except time. I’ve often said that the web can create more content on skateboarding in one hour than I can publish in a lifetime. This abundance (and ability) to create so much content is both fantastic and overwhelming.

 

I’ve been involved with skateboarding websites since 1996. You can see my original Skategeezer Homepage here. I think it’s hilarious that a ridiculously basic (and frankly crappy) website led me on a journey into the world of book publishing, TV, film and other media. I cannot stress enough the butterfly effect. My $5 month investment keeps paying dividends. But then again, I never stopped skating and never lost the fire for spreading the stoke.

 

Many are trying to figure out what kind of effect digital technology is having on the skate world. Can you trust online reviews? How is online retailing affecting the indy skate shops? Sometimes I wonder that by the time you’ve made the skate video and posted it to YouTube or facebooked, instagramed, twittered and snapchatted if there is any time left to actually ride.

 

And yet, here’s our CW website featuring a pretty cool shot of Drew enjoying the ride. We might wind up with a few thousand folks viewing this image and I am sure it will stoke him out. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what’s important.

 

So here’s to you Drew and to your family who support your efforts. Keep skating and have fun!

 

 

Tribute vs homage vs rip off

Tribute vs homage vs rip off

 BEHOLD THE MIGHTY THRASHER T- SHIRT! By now you have probably seen this on a t shirt. It’s from fast fashion behemoth H & M.Here’s the story behind it. What is astounding is H & M’s response to Thrasher’s request to cease and desist. No wonder people detest lawyers.  Just read that last paragraph once again. “While both words start with the letter “T”….” Talk about a stretch.  So what is this story about? Here’s what this Tippin logo is NOT.This logo is not about a tribute to Thrasher. A tribute to Thrasher would have meant acknowledging the 36 years this logo has been around. Lawyers from H & M would have contacted the lawyers of Thrasher and they would have figured out a deal…or not. My sense is that Thrasher would not have agreed to a tribute to their logo from H & M. Note: Tribute bands are something else entirely. While I am not one to judge a book by its cover, I’d say neither of these tribute bands would be mistaken for the real thing.                This is not a story about an homage to Thrasher.Homage is respect paid to a person or idea. The word comes from feudal times. Suffice to say, I don’t see any respect being paid to Thrasher. So if it’s not a tribute or an homage what exactly would you call what H & M has done? Perhaps the best way to answer this is to highlight a comment from Thrasher’s Instagram account. While I can’t verify sladerobinson, it does seem rather telling that there is a pattern here.   And here.So, for what I can tell, H & M  borrows,  in the heaviest of ways, other people’s ideas and images. To put it another way, the pattern is ripping off other people’s images and ideas. It’s not like this doesn’t happen all the time – it does. Check out logothief.    But there is something truly egregious about ripping off Thrasher that just makes my blood boil. I’ve looked at that logo longer than I’ve known my wife! If you’re as pissed off as I am, why not contact H & M and tell them?    

Summer Tour 2016/2017, Report Number Two: The Micro-Camper

Summer Tour 2016/2017, Report Number Two: The Micro-Camper

 I’m not too sure if there’s ever been a skateboard tour that has featured, of all the crazy things in the world, a homebuilt micro-camper. But, this one will! If you’re not familiar yet with my micro-camper, I’ll give you a brief synopsis to get you caught up to speed:  I designed, and built, my little camper about three years ago now. It’s built on a Harbor Freight utility trailer, and is made of wood… much like a skateboard ramp would be. It weighs about 700 lbs (or so), features a queen-size mattress (with a memory-foam pillow top), and tows easily behind my little Toyota Yaris. The same Yaris, by the way, that I took out on my 2008 Tour. Back then, the Yaris was brand spankin’ new. Today, it has a compiled a lovingly reliable 187,000 miles. I just realized that, by the way, as I was writing this paragraph. My, how the time flies.  The camper has been through a few revisions, and has had some press over at Tiny House Listings… Google “Bud Stratford camper” to find the articles, and they’ll pop right up, three articles in total.  Since I built it, the camper’s probably racked up well over 30,000 miles, and has been all over the western United States. You could probably build one for about $2500 or so; of course, I have a bit more than that invested in mine, with all the various revisions and rebuilds over the last three (or so) years. But even then, I’d be shocked if I had more than $3500 invested in the whole project.   Given that the Yaris still gets about 28 mpg while towing the camper, this is probably the most fun, functional, relaxing, and enjoyable way to experience the vast, wide-open wilds of America, on a threadbare budget. Whatever “vast, wide-open wilds” that remain, at least. And trust me, there aren’t that many left.  I know, because I’ve been looking. The camper was originally designed and built with long-distance snowboard expeditions in mind. Like, to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for my annual pilgrimages to Mt. Bohemia. It didn’t dawn on me until quite some time later that this thing might actually work pretty well for summer camping, too. I can be a really short-sighted idiot like that, sometimes.  At first, I was a little disinclined to agree to, and follow through with, yet another overly-ambitious summer tour. I really didn’t think that I had it in me, and in any rate I suspected that the ‘ol knees would immediately protest and/or veto the whole shenanigans. But once I remembered the camper… all of a sudden, I was all about it. How much better could it really get, than to combine two of my favorite lifelong loves… skateboarding, and camping… into one big, epic adventure…?  I turned it over in my head a few times, and quickly realized that it cannot possibly ever get any better than that. The Tour was a go, and I was off like a herd of turtles.   

"Beautifully Illegal"

"Beautifully Illegal"

Nine years ago, Stacy Peralta was interviewed by Huck Magazine. He had a lot on his mind. The piece is great skate journalism and you can read it here  One particular part of the piece really strikes a nerve right now:  I don’t care what side of the political spectrum you are on…if you skate on the sidewalk, down a hill, at a school and generally anywhere else, chances are you BREAKING THE LAW. And if you are at a skatepark and you aren’t wearing pads, chances are you are BREAKING THE LAW. Maybe this graphic will put it in a better perspective.  

First Ever CW Photo Contest

First Ever CW Photo Contest

 

Concrete Wave is proud to announce our Amateur Photo Contest 2017. This will be the contest of the year for all you amateur skate photographers out there, so listen up and pay attention.

 

If you are selected as one of our finalists, you will have the opportunity to see your photo, in print, in the magazine. We have slated the entirety of the November Issue (deadline, September 1st) to showcasing your work. The contest is open to any and all amateur photographers.

 

 

The rules are simple: send in your photo; your name; where the photo was shot; and the subject… and, that’s it! Photo requirements are 300 dpi or better, submitted via e-mail, to Michael Brooke. We’ll handle it from there.

 

Photo submissions must be original works that have never been published before. That includes photos that have been previously “published” on the internet. Do not send us your Instagram portfolio. Do not send us your Facebook Files. Only original, unpublished works will be considered for publication in the magazine.

 

Consider yourselves advised.

 

We encourage all types of skaters from all over the world to submit work. We love all y’all, and we love all kinds of skateboarding.

 

Besides the opportunity to be immortalized on the pages of the magazine, the 1st place winner will win a cool $750 second place will fetch $375 and third will score $150. Finalists and winners will be announced in the November issue.

 

Deadline for photo submissions is September 1st.

 

Don’t be late…!

 

Remember, send photos to mbrooke@interlog.com

 

TORONTO BOARD MEETING 2016

TORONTO BOARD MEETING 2016

TORONTO BOARD MEETING – SEPT 10th 

 

The 14th Annual Toronto Board Meeting took place last Saturday.

Rain had threatened the event, but by late afternoon, things were in full swing.

Over 800 skaters took to the streets and the mood, as always, was indeed festive.

 

The photos don’t fully capture the experience – but they give you a taste. The range of participants is from 1 year up to 50-something.

The initial rush starts with a quick push to the intersection of Yonge and St. Clair.

 

A ten minute sit-down in the intersection boggles most on-lookers minds and allows everyone to gather.

Cries of “BOOARRRDDD MEETING” can be heard every few moments.

 

Sit-down at Yonge and St. Clair.

The second part of Board Meeting is a quick skate down a moderate hill on Canada’s most well known street – Yonge Street.

 

Despite the fact that the meeting has been going on for almost a decade and a half, most spectators don’t really know what they are seeing.

 

Many stand there in disbelief while others, enjoying the spirit of the moment, take photos or give high fives.

A number of taxi cab drivers are stunned and regular motorists generally go with the flow.

 City TV came out to cover the festivities.

A quick fifteen to twenty minute skate to Queen’s Park marks roughly the half way point and allows the group to enjoy the moment.

 

It’s then on to City Hall for an impromptu slide jam. 

 

This year Board Meeting happened to have the good fortune of coinciding with a walk to raise money for cancer.

The music blaring from the speakers blended perfectly with the day. Towards the end of the event, thirsty skaters were generously given free soft drinks courtesy of the sponsors of the walk.

 

As the first part of Board Meeting ended, the rain started to come. The timing was almost too perfect!

 

Huge thanks to all the sponsors who make this event such a blast.

  

Van's Girls Pool Party – AKA Girls Combi Classic

Van's Girls Pool Party – AKA Girls Combi Classic

There were some great lines, tricks and slams from some of the best bowl skaters in the world. Click the above image to see highlights of all the action. Kudos to all who skated and congrats to the following who placed. 

Pro Girls

1. Jordy Barratt

2. Nicole Hause

3. Poppy Starr

4. Brighton Zeuner

 

Ams 15 & over
1. Dora Varella

 

Ams 14 & under

1. Zoe Safanda

  

The Future is Unwritten

The Future is Unwritten

Many years ago (before YouTube) Concrete Wave created a series of DVD’s called Evolutions. They were generally 2 hours (or more in length) and we printed up 15,000 of each title. Evolutions was given away for free and I know of numerous skateshops that played the DVD endlessly. Today I received a nice email from someone who was part of the DVD through his Olliepop video part. His name is Ruben NajeraI. He told me that ever since he was young, it was a dream to someday possibly have the cover of Concrete Wave.Ruben’s story really defines the expression “the future is unwritten.” When I produced that series of DVD’s, I really had no idea of what their affect would be. All I wanted to do was spread a message through video. While I knew that folks would enjoy Evolutions, I never really thought they’d have the power all these years later. Email’s like Rubens bring home the reality that when you publish something (no matter what platform) it can truly resonate with people in a deep way. So here’s to the future and here’s Ruben’s amazing story taken from his website – and here’s hoping it inspires the next generation of skaters. Some You Tube links of Evolutions:      

David Greenidge – Oct 31, 1932 – January 6, 2017

David Greenidge – Oct 31, 1932 – January 6, 2017

Chances are you’ve never heard of David Greenidge but if you live in Canada and you skateboard, you’ve been affected his work. David got his start in the skate business working as rep for Vans here in Canada. In 1985, David set up S & J Sales with his two sons – Steven and Jason.  Over three decades of work in action sports produces an incredible amount of stories. S & J Sales worked with dozens of companies. They were the first distributors to carry Sector 9 and Loaded in Canada.  S & J sponsored hundreds of events and helped grow the diverse skate scene here in Canada. Many people in action sports got their start at S & J Sales. I am one these people. While I didn’t work for the company, they were gracious enough to let me into their warehouse to search for an elusive “fibreflex type skateboard” back in 1996. I wound up purchasing a Sector 9 along with a copy of Big Brother. That Sector 9 deck propelled me so deep into skateboarding, I am still dealing with it! Eighteen months later, I began working on the book “The Concrete Wave.” Eventually, S & J Sales would distribute International Longboarder and then Concrete Wave  – the magazine. This support was so incredibly valuable and it was also very enjoyable seeing the S & J gang every two months. David was always interested in what I had seen down in California. Our conversations ran from skateboarding to politics to the politics found within skateboarding. I think the best word to describe David Greenidge would be gregarious. He was full of energy and was never bashful about giving you his thoughts on any subject. Yesterday evening, friends and family gathered to remember David and today is the funeral. I was fortunate to be there yesterday and had a chance to see both Steven and Jason. As I conveyed Steven, for me, it all began with a board I picked up at S & J. David left a huge mark on skateboarding. On behalf of skaters everywhere, I extend my sincere condolences to the entire Greenidge family.   

A Needle In a Haystack – Life as an Australian Freestyler

A Needle In a Haystack – Life as an Australian Freestyler

Being a freestyler in Australia is like being a needle in a haystack. It’s very secluded and hard to find many people who skate freestyle dominantly. I can name about 4 skaters from Australia that purely skate freestyle that I personally know of who are big inspirations to me. These include, Liam France, Shaun Gladwell, Michael Malyszko and Ricky Glaser. I’ve been skating for 5 years now mostly freestyle and mostly by myself.

I feel skating by myself helps my creation flow a lot easier. I’ve been able to invent tricks such as the rail/primo Nollie Laser flip. I am getting different variations of that such as landing cross foot, body varial or turning it into a big flip.

 

 

Skating started on the road In front of my house when I was 14. It started as a hobby which stemmed into a passion which branched into a lifestyle and almost leading to a future career. Freestyle in particular drew me in because of the beauty and creative control.

 

Watching guys like Kilian Martin really made me appreciate the artistic value of freestyle. Another big inspiration comes from someone who’s not a skater, in fact it comes from music, specifically electric violin composed by Lindsey Stirling. I don’t know why but something about the way violin flows helps me with my footwork in freestyle forming it into almost a dance.

 

I never knew many freestylers until I flew to Canada in May 2016 to compete in my first ever freestyle contest at the World Round Up. I placed 7th in the world in the amateur division. It really set me on a path to success and gave me the opportunity to make lifelong friends and freestylers who inspired me and motivate me. These are guys like Mike Osterman, Jordan Sterling, Connor Burke, Dan Garb, Tony Gale, Danielle Trujillo, Marcio Torres and Andy Anderson. From those friends I was able to network with legends like Kevin Harris who got me in contact with Glen Billwiller, a freestyle legend and now great friend and also sponsor. Glen runs a skate shop in Perth called Aikenheads Skateshop and he supplies me with Chance Skateboards, Fury trucks and Momentum wheels.

 

 

After my success in Canada I’ve also been able to pick up a watch sponsor called Toro Luna Watches which make world class watches perfect for skating and Proteus Clothing. The road to sponsorship however hasn’t been an easy path. In middle school I was expelled for leaving class and just skating. It’s all I wanted to do and all I loved.

 

My principle called me delusional and crazy in front of my own mother and said it was a one in a million shot at making it in skating. Ironically he said I’d never make it into a magazine. I look back and laugh at the whole situation now. I don’t regret what I did. I just regret putting my mum through that pain of me being expelled and almost being a disappointment.

 

My plan for the future is to go to the Round Up every year and set up a skate shop in Melbourne. I want to expand freestyle around the world and show the beauty and art that is what we do, hopefully in the next 3-4 years I want to be able to set up an Australian Freestyle contest and have freestylers all over the world compete and experience this beautiful country and it’s four seasons in one day. I wish to see more people skating freestyle and loving it. I want to see the freestyle family expand and grow, break away from the norm and create something weird and goofy.

 

Thanks to my sponsors:

Aikenheads skateshop, Fury trucks, Momentum wheels, Chance skateboards, Toro Luna Watches, Proteus Clothing.

Pushed – Four Guys Inspired by a Wooden Toy

Pushed – Four Guys Inspired by a Wooden Toy

Flo Schneider spent two years filming skaters Bobby Puleo, Pontus Alv, Stefan Marx and Adam Sello. The documentary is a must-watch for anyone who loves skateboarding. It truly captures what it means to ride. 

There are a number of locations featured in the documentary along with some extraordinary skate spots. One that caught my eye was the TBS – Train Bank Spot. Adding to the skateboarding is a variety of very cool art.

 

Pushed is already getting rave reviews and luckily, you can watch it for free here:

 

  

Rolling Into the New Year

Rolling Into the New Year

This year went by fast. Incredibly fast. It seems inconceivable that I was preparing to meet up with folks at our annual bbq at the Agenda Trade Show 12 months ago. Next week, Agenda 2017 in Long Beach hits once again. It’s always a very special event. The annual gathering brings a variety of people together but this year we have a truly remarkable guest of honor. Our guest does not own a big skate brand. He also doesn’t place in the top 10 of various skate events. Rather, he is leaving a mark on skateboarding that is unique and jaw-dropping Our guest is Chris Koch and he is one of the most incredible skaters I’ve ever had the privilege to know. We featured his story in our September issue.  You can learn more about his skating in marathons in the video below:Chris is a motivational speaker and you find out more about him here. I am so delighted Chris will be joining us for the BBQ. As we roll into 2017, take the time to ride and enjoy the freedom that skateboarding offers.