Skate Shops


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    Bud Stratford
    Bud Stratford


    I spent a lot of time last year on the road, going to skate shops (and parks, and spots, and tourist attractions) all over the southwest. I made a lot of observations regarding the state of retail that I’ll be talking about in the March issue of Everything Skateboarding (

    I was wondering what you guys thought about the topic of skate shops? What are you stoked on, what are you bummed on? Is your local shop good? Do they support the community? Do they suck, and if so, why? Do you prefer to shop at a local shop, or online? And why?

    You know, stuff like that.

    I’m an older guy, from a different generation. Just wondering what the other generations of skaters think about it, I guess.

    If you guys (and gals) have anything you want to ask me in return, fire away. I’m game.

    I left a similar question with the Slap Pals over on the Slap forums. It’ll be interesting what they have to say about it, besides calling me a loser. They’re good times over there.


    Good q Bud.

    For me, I’ll pop by Soulgrind or Pacific Drive or Adrenalina (they’re all close by) here in Pacific Beach (San Diego) from time to time and they all have what I’m looking for usually – good hardware and they’ll set it up for me right then on the spot, no waiting, good prices, no shipping to worry about. I also scope the sale wall of shoes at PB Drive for some come ups on some expensive skate shoes for a good price 🙂 Hot deaals right there! Adrenalina always has the hottest boards in longboarding, too, so I like checking out the cool new stuff and drooling over the premium boards there that you might not see at more street shops.

    And, they all know their stuff. They all know how to recommend the right hardware for your style of skating and know all the products inside and out. Pablo at Adrenalina is always around and the guys at pb drive are usually all legit skaters that shred, some skate mafia guys will be around sometimes, etc, and sometimes at PB drive they’re grinding slappies on the parking block they have outside that looks like it’s been hit about 10,000 times and probably has permanent wax embedded in it now. I skate by and manual thru or something chill but I often find myself wishing there was a sneaky skatepark there when I see the parking block and maybe get a lucky first try board slider or more likely catch my ankle messing up an easy 50-50, lol (i suk). But for these reasons, I will always love and value these shops!

    Sometimes when I travel, though, I get into some shops and the staff is just a little to young and green or bothered and seem a little bored and not informed and generally not into it. Fire those people! They don’t get it! They don’t skate anymore or something! haha It’s exactly like weed dispensaries. Sometimes, they’re the most knowledgeable, most stoked. Other times, they couldn’t give a shit and they seem surprised you’re there (more rare these days now that it’s gone legal and more pro). I won’t name any names.

    But, if you’ve ever been in a shop like that, dispenso or skate shop, you know what I’m talking about. You know they’re working so they can’t go skate but you just want to be like “uh, should we skate or something? you look like you need it.” It’s annoying to be the most stoked person by a mile in a shop where you were hoping to find some stoke. But, everyone has their 9-5’s, sometimes ur hungover.
    I guess. Luckily, San Diego is a pretty year-round skater scene and that doesn’t seem to happen in our local shops too much. but I think in other areas its like any business, its hard to find good help, and right now the kids aren’t flocking to work in skate shops, so you get what you get. People are either stoked there’s a skateshop and happy just to be in one, or they’re bored af and like … “huh?” when you come in and then awkwardly half follow you around like you’re going to steal something. I hate when they do that. I can see it being a problem in some places tho.

    What I’d REALLY like to see at more shops, is actual skating. And, I bet that fixes the occasional bummer atmosphere vibe of the sleepy shops out there that are losing the stoke. I mean really, how boring could it be if you can just go practice your mini ramp tricks? Skateparks are hard to find and sometimes a single ramp is all you need for an hour. I know shops aren’t skateparks, but, a ramp here or there would be fun and I have seen some that do it and it’s a game changer for the vibe. I know this is something we’re planning for our office this year, but, we’re not a public shop yet, so I don’t think we count in this context yet. I guess that doesn’t help longboarders too much, but then again, i dunno, ever tried a longboard in a mini ramp? I bet it’s pretty fun anyway.

    Unfortunately shops are usually crammed with as many boards as possible and it’s appreciated by the skaters to see variety and have a good selection, but, it doesn’t leave any room for a mini ramp. I think it’d be so awesome to just pop over to the shop and pick up some new shoes and then rock them in the mini ramp real quick, make a fool of myself or maybe land something lucky and get some props in my new kicks 🙂 Would be even cooler if there was a viewing area and people from the beach could be walking by and just instagram whoever’s in there and spread more skating to the webs maybe…

    In any case, one thing for sure is I never walk into a shop and expect to be surprised with something new. So I guess that’s what I’m getting at, I’d love to have that surprise again, like when you’re a kid and walk into your first shops and and are blown away at all the decks and trucks and wheels and clothes and cool stuff everywhere that they don’t have at target. I’d like to walk in and be like – oh cool, this shop has something the others don’t.

    When I walk into a skateshop I pretty much expect they all have the exact same products and format from 20 years ago, for their type of store. Racks of boards. Display cases, clothes, sale area. Skaters behind the counter, hit or miss. Maybe a skate video playing on a TV and they’re watching it. If you’re lucky, a couch chill area with a TV and an XBox One with Skate on it, or some good video game. And, that’s cool, that’s the roots. Especially in a good location, in a good town, maybe that’s all you need.

    But, I haven’t been to THAT many shops, so I don’t know what’s out there. Maybe some shops are doing something new to spice things up and make working there less boring and attract more customers? Are any shops doing anything cool that hasn’t been seen everywhere already?

    What about a downhill treadmill with a handle to try out downhill setups/boards and slides?? lol I think I saw that at Snow Expo for snowboards once… but I wonder how many shops would even have space for something like that. Small shops would have to take it outside somehow…

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