Dave Jones is the owner of a relatively new skate shop in Lombard, Illinois. Having been a self-employed printer for seventeen years, Jones was inspired by his skateboarding son to open a skate shop. Board Dog opened its doors on September 2, 2001.

Jones says his son was regularly driven to neighboring towns to get the skateboard-related goods he needed. At the same time, Jones admits that he was looking to fulfill his own need for self-expression, while drawing on his ability to relate to younger people. The idea of opening up a skate shop in their small town appealed to him. Board Dog?s winning essay best articulates the decision to open the store in this statement: “An admitted overgrown teenager, Dave felt that a skateboard shop would be a perfect fit. He threw caution to the wind, sold his printing business, and opened Board Dog.”

Having opened just over a week before the September 11 tragedy in New York, Jones recognizes that “with September 11, everybody was in shock over that situation, but I saw some people coming in just to get stuff to cheer their kids up.”

The shop is located in the heart of downtown Lombard, a town about 25 miles outside of Chicago, along the Northwestern Railroad tracks. And comprised of a space of 3,000 square feet, the shop?s sole focus and scope is skateboarding.

“The local scene is cool,” says Jones. “The guys here hang out. A lot of the guys are friends of the shop, and they hang out and skate down in the basement. In the basement we have a rail and a box?a spot for the guys to hang out and practice. We?ve got weights and a Cardioglide down there.

“The guys who skate on our team skate all year. It snows over the winter, but they’ll find spots that are clean–underground garages or loading docks.”

As for whether their business is seasonal, Jones explains that being in it for such a short period of time, he doesn’t know: “But I would say yes, as it’s really been picking up as the weather starts to get better.”

Unlike most skate shops that are started by skateboarders discontent with their local skate shop–or lack of one–Jones wasn’t a discontented skateboarder, but rather a discontented skate dad: “I got involved in skateboarding when my son got involved when he was about eleven.

“We bought him a skateboard. He’s thirteen now, still skates, and is really into it. Here in Lombard it’s a nice area where there were no shops and lots of skaters. So we decided to open one up. I was a printer for twenty years and sold my accounts and opened up a skateboard shop on September 2.”

The shop plays a huge role in the local skate scene beyond providing equipment. It serves as a place to hang out and come be with other skaters, as well as skate in the shop’s basement training facility. “It’s kind of like the meeting area for local skaters,” says Jones. “People come from other towns and meet up and go skate. They’ll just get together, drive out there, and skate it.”

As for the shop’s customer base, “I would say it’s all over the board,” says Jones. “From grandmas to bikers to you name it. We get everything in here, and we love it. Everybody loves it–moms, dads, kids. We try to do a lot of things that appeal to everybody. We have pictures of old rock stars and new rock stars. We try to make it a comfortable, fun place to be.”

As to whether there are more parents and younger kids coming in now than before, Jones is adamant: “Oh yeah, we get everything in from grandmas to tattoo artists to kids. We get everything, and that’s part of the fun and part of the allure of the shop. We play a variety of music and have numerous pictures, paintings, and murals to interest people of all ages.”

Although he’s the shop owner, Jones says he limits his role in the company to overseer: “I basically built the shop and let skaters run it. I just manage the shop for the most part. I’m here about 75 hours a week. I’ve got two businesses–a skateboard shop at the front and a printing-supply business athe back. I’d say I spend about 60 hours a week at the skate shop, but it’s not work–it’s fun. I take care of the business end of the things. I let the skaters handle the skateboard needs. I do have some knowledge of what’s going on, but I’ve got guys who skate for me who have a lot more knowledge than I do, so I just let them take care of the customers. I love the shop. My wife gets upset because sometimes I don’t even want to go home.”

The shop sponsors teams, demos, and contests. It must be noted that Board Dog is passionately involved in the Lombard community on many levels. “We have a team of ten members ranging in ages from nine to 22. We put out a video that premiered at the IMAX theater in Edison–a suburb of Chicago. We did it as a benefit and raised 600 pounds of food for a local food pantry.

“Since the video came out, a local television-access company is going to do a documentary on the filmer Jim Kozar, a local eighteen-year-old skater. The quality of the film we made is as good as any skateboard video that’s out. People are amazed. We’ve had people come in and ask him to edit their business videos.”

The shop’s focus is on hardgoods. Jones explains that the shop’s goal is to be a skate shop where a vast variety of boards are available, rather than a broad range of clothing and softgoods. “We’re more into hardgoods than we are into clothing,” says Jones. “We do some clothing, but our emphasis at the shop is for quality boards and hardgoods.”

Because the shop hasn’t been in business for even a year yet, Jones can’t draw on any past experiences or make any predictions on how and where the shop will go. He is stoked, however, that business has been steady and strong. He even admits they do “all right” on hardgoods.

The shop was financed by a combination of both Jones’ savings and borrowed money. “I sold my printing business and used that to take out a loan to start out the skateboard business,” he says. “I’ve got another business as well that helps me support the shop. We’re holding our own right now. I’d say we’re losing, but we’re going to do great. I’ve got people tattooing ‘Board Dog’ on their bodies. We’ve got some serious lifers, and we’re going to be here a long time.”

Jones checks the shop’s financial statements every quarter and keeps tabs on their cash flow “daily, weekly, and monthly.”

As for any key financial factors Jones watches to know what’s going on in the shop, he lays it down simply: “I guess I try to make more money than I put out. There are no particular indicators that I watch.”

Jones hesitates when asked what mistakes he feels he’s made so far and says it’s hard for him to answer that: “Yeah, I’ve made some mistakes. I would say that before I was more aware of the skate scene, I probably put a little too much into softgoods. That’s probably the biggest thing. That was until I got a better feel for the business.” He pauses and adds, “What’s hesh is what’s fresh!”

Knowing what he knows now, he’s adamant that he’d get into this business if he had to do it all over again. “Absolutely!” he exclaims. “A thousand times over. If I go out of business, I’ll still be happy that I opened this. I love it. I love the kids, the atmosphere, and the attitude. I love everything about it.”

Jones is encouraged by the recent growth of the sport and very optimistic about what’s in the future. He pauses and laughs, “I think we’re on the tip of the iceberg.”

Top Ten Reasons Board Dog’s Essay Won Our Contest

(1)It was actually two pages, typed, and double-spaced in length and format.

(2)At least one spell check was carried out in the writing process.

(3)The essay was written by the shop owner’s wife Carol. Moreover, she’s the mother of the kid who inspired his parents to open up a skate shop.

(4) The essay offered insight into how the store developed from concept to completion.

(5)The shop sent us a really nice package of other shop-related materials, such as articles written about them by their local newspapers; copies of the shop video; and shop T-shirts, stickers, and pins for the SKATE Biz staff.

(6)It was actually two pages, typed, and double-spaced in length and format.

(7)The shop contributes in many positive ways to the community beyond just demos and letting kids hang out at the store.

(8)Carol Jones actually read the instructions and fulfilled all of the contest requirements.

(9)The shop is not trying its hardest to be ?core, cool, or hip. They’re simply determined to run a skate shop that’s fun and accessible to everyone.

(10)It was actually two pages, typed, and double-spaced in length and format. about them by their local newspapers; copies of the shop video; and shop T-shirts, stickers, and pins for the SKATE Biz staff.

(6)It was actually two pages, typed, and double-spaced in length and format.

(7)The shop contributes in many positive ways to the community beyond just demos and letting kids hang out at the store.

(8)Carol Jones actually read the instructions and fulfilled all of the contest requirements.

(9)The shop is not trying its hardest to be ?core, cool, or hip. They’re simply determined to run a skate shop that’s fun and accessible to everyone.

(10)It was actually two pages, typed, and double-spaced in length and format.