Nine Shops, One Question

What was it Snoopy’s thought bubble used to say as he did that little dance by his dogfood dish? “Summertime!”

Oh yeah, that was “Suppertime!” but I’m saying “Summertime!” because it’s been a long winter in so many ways, hasn’t it? We’ve been through a lot in our business: rumors of global economic disaster, war, folks saying skateboarding was overdue for a slump. And here we are–like tempered steel, we’re even stronger after the heat we’ve been subjected to. I may be a skateboarding booster, but boosting is easy when you’ve picked the right team–you know what I mean?

Ten Shops, One Question operates under this premise: every issue for one year, we ask the same ten successful shops from the U.S. and elsewhere one question about skateboarding business. Their replies give us a peek into skateboarding in their respective regions, places as diverse as Tokyo, the Midwest, Manitoba, Atlanta, and Copenhagen. Unfortunately, our Tokyo shop Stormy had troubles with Godzilla this issue and was unable to respond–hence the temporary “Nine Shops” title. A big thanks to the shops of Volume 13 for all their helpful responses.

Enjoy this vicarious form of travel, and if you have a question you’d like to ask our Ten Shops, send it to: sharon.ed@twsnet.com, or FAX: (760) 788-7072.

This issue’s question: How has the increase in skate accessories affected merchandising in your store?

Per Friis at Street Machine in Copenhagen, Denmark
Web site: streetmachine.dk

“We haven’t had to make more room, we just have a higher turnover. Caps, beanies, and visors are doing really well, also backpacks. Our number-one selling item is lanyards! No one here has just one, they have like ten different ones. It’s pretty good markup, too. They don’t wear them around their neck, but around their side (on the belt/beltloop). We’re doing well on belts now, too. Wallets are probably the slowest (accessory). That’s partly because they’re in the case instead of on the wall with the lanyards and beanies.

“We cut down a little on the number of bags to focus on certain styles with something to offer. It keeps the shop looking better. We modified it to have bigger stock on a few styles; if someone wants a blue bag, we have it. Ninety percent of our bag sales are backpacks.

“We carry watches and do really well on the Nixon watches. Sunglasses we do okay, but it’s not really the season yet. It’s better to carry the stuff they (customers) want than a little of everything. We do tons of videos, too. What we have of DVDs is sold already–that technology will probably be 50-50 (with videos) here within a year.”

Matt Roman at Coliseum Skateboard Superstore in Melrose, Massachusetts
Web site: coliseumskate.com

“Accessories, what are they? Are they useless trinkets, marketing tools, small ideas with a big markup? To me accessories are grand, the greatest of all skateboard-shop pleasures. They make little kids as well as grisly adults smile. I have seen stickers transform the roughest of country-club dads into pathetic little kids. The joy of accessories is led with its staple subject–stickers.

“Quite simply, Flip skateboards makes the best stickers. Each and every one is brilliantly thought out and crafted. The Hate Kill Destroy is loved by all who lay eyes on it. Moms prefer the Tom Penny University sticker. Yes, this is that all-beloved board graphic with Mr. Penny riding his bicycle through the streets of Oxford with a smile so warm, so pleasant, even the Queen glows.

“Grandfathers are more often than not drawn to the Flip SORRY sticker. Maybe because they are SORRY for not bringing their grandchildren to the skateboard shop enough, maybe they are SORRY they never owned a Flip board, Maybe Grandpa is SORRY he never could frontside flip like Penny. The young ones, the lads–not P.J. Ladd–but you know, the wee chaps love them all. Every day after school like clockwork, the door is swung open with glee, the roar of cldren pounding the floor, eyes filled with such energy, such hope of there being one–just one–new Flip sticker in the display case.

“We fill two cases with this gold known as Flip stickers. Kids’ hands tremble plopping their old, sweaty one-dollar bills on the counter, and when I hand them their Rune, Ali, Tom, Geoff, Arto, Bastien, or Mark sticker there’s a feeling of satisfaction that can’t be described. It resembles the store owner handing Charlie the golden ticket in Willy Wonka.

“Many shops are afraid of the joy of skateboarding–yes, skate shops and skateboarding can be fun and new and full of flavor. Flip stickers will help–they never get old, they appeal to those worth appealing to, and they will brighten many. I urge the weary ones to start small–one or two Flip sticker packs. You will do well with them, you will start to smile, you will learn to love Flip and stickers.”

Mark Zitzer at Phase II in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

“You know we’ve always carried as many accessories as possible: stickers, patches, keychains, lighters, toys, videos, magazines, ramp-plans booklets. We carry the Toy Machine characters, World Industries characters. We’ve sold a lot of those gold Toy Machine medallions. We sell the stuff we’ve brought in as a joke to put on our mannequins! If you don’t have it, a kid will for sure come in and ask for it. We put almost all of it (accessories) in glass showcases–that’s the most impressive display. We just put a couple out at a time if we don’t have enough room.

“Lanyards we hang on the wall. We don’t sell a lot of them anymore. All that stuff is by the counter or behind the counter. Belts are behind the counter. We usually keep between fifteen and 40 backpacks at the store, depending on time of year. Most of them we can get pretty quickly on fill-in from the distributor, so we can carry like two of each style.

“Videos and DVDs–especially DVDs. The demand is getting there. They do well, but you can’t over-order. We get those a couple at a time.

“I don’t shop around. I don’t know what Kmart’s selling. If we think kids want it, we carry it.”

Thomas Taylor at Stratosphere in Atlanta, Georgia
Web site: stratos-atl.com

“Not drastically. But with more stuff like lanyards and wax and little toys that kids want now–tools–there’re tons of accessories now! Kids don’t always need a new set of trucks, so they can get a sticker or something.

“We already had pegboards here, but we display on the counter or use old sunglasses displays. Mostly we can put it all in the cabinet. Bags are off the hook! I carry fewer brands and better quality now. Once we went through the whole thing of checking out everybody’s bags. Then we found there were only about four (brands) that were made well and didn’t come back with customers having problems.

“DVDs have picked up, a lot more demand, so we bring them in to satisfy the customers. The older people seem to have their act together with more money anyhow, so I think they’ll be buying more of that format.”

Luis Lizo at SK8 Skates in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Web site: sk8skates.com

“We’re pretty much just sticking with the board companies’ and major shoe companies’ accessories, not just an accessory company’s. We do big Circa, Emerica, Lakai, DC, Osiris–so whatever accessories I see on their order forms, we do. The keychains that wrap around your neck go really well–parents get them for kids. Wallets are always good. A lot of what we carry here is for the tons of little kids–World or Blind or Spitfire with the cartoony graphics.

“Accessories are mostly behind the counter or in the display cases. We have four big display cases for the little things for skateboards. I’ve had to do that, take doubles off of the floor to make room for accessories. Risers, wax, that sort of stuff. (Skate) Tools take up a lot of space–we do have an attic for backstock. Stud bracelets and belts are in the case. At Christmas we try to bring everything out because everything and anything sells, and we might put stuff away for the summer, or put shorts away for the winter.”

Jeff Reeves at Pulse Board Shop in Tyler, Texas

“Yeah, absolutely–I’ve had to make more room for it. You have all kinds of accessories now. I had to make room in my glass displays.

“You kind of have to see what’s fresh out there–what people are looking for–and you have to trust your senses with that. If it sells, you have to keep replacing it. Usually the stuff (accessories) is skate-branded–I don’t get away from that too much. I’m a pretty ‘core shop.

“I had to add a case, mainly because now I’m actually carrying a lot more product. The store is two years old and started out pretty small. I load the cases up! That’s within reason, of course, I keep them where you tell what’s going on–I don’t want it out of control! I’ve got all my hats, videos, magazines, and backpacks behind the counter on the wall, and the boards are on the floor. I have very little theft. To get a board out, you have to pass the counter.

“I think it (accessory sales) depends on the area–around here there don’t seem to be a lot of kids into the accessories, just maybe the wallets and belts. Socks go pretty good, and that’s usually the parents buying them.”

Matt Loftin at Brothers Boards in Denver, Colorado

“We haven’t really had to make more room for it–our existing cases are just really full now, and we–ve had to use some ingenuity to get it all in there. It’s too easy to lift that kind of stuff.

“Bushings, bearings, tools–there’s a lot more knickknacks: whisky flasks, license-plate holders, you name it. During Christmas we carry more of that stuff, but come summer we carry mostly what we need.

“We do carry a lot of bags–we keep them high up on the wall and pull ’em down if anyone needs to see ’em.”

Rob Aragon at Exit Real World in Portland, Oregon
Web site: exitrealworld.com

“A little bit–we have all of our racks made out of pipe and flange, so it’s easy to add on. Moms always like the Shoo Goo, and wallets and skate tools go well. Nixon watches sell well, we’ve had them for a while, and the photo-book lines have been going well.

“We still have quite a bit out after the holiday still. Now that snow has sold down, we can display more accessories. Belts are easy to display on the end of the flange–we hang them with the pants and shorts. We haven’t really stepped up the amount of accessories, we’re more selective. But the case is getting kind of crowded. The Shorty’s and the Unit (skate) tools are doing really well–they’re self-contained and don’t take up a lot of space in your pocket. All that kind of stuff is in our glass counters.”

“We have just as many videos as accessories?especially DVDs! People really like the enhanced versions.”

Mark Sweetser at Network 17 in Costa Mesa, Californianetwork17.com

“We have each case–a case for bearings, a case for bracelets and belts, so we have expanded that way. We do some Toy Machine toys, but my friends just want to take those, so I try to forget to reorder them. That’s not my main focus! We do keychains and patches. We do books–like the one from Thrasher, Shorty’s, and the Heckler book.

“About 40 percent of Web-site-order customers throw in some type of accessory, more than they do in the store.

“We sell tons of videos and DVDs. We have a wide selection–we carry between 60 to 80 fairly current videos. We’re known for having the videos available first on our site, including less mainstream ones like Blueprint and Tilt Mode’s Man Down. We all like watching videos in the shop. We were the (sales) leaders of CKY videos–we sold tons. Of course now those are dead. We sell a lot of ramp-plan books from Thrasher. Skate wax. We sell just tons of little stuff!”as we try to bring everything out because everything and anything sells, and we might put stuff away for the summer, or put shorts away for the winter.”

Jeff Reeves at Pulse Board Shop in Tyler, Texas

“Yeah, absolutely–I’ve had to make more room for it. You have all kinds of accessories now. I had to make room in my glass displays.

“You kind of have to see what’s fresh out there–what people are looking for–and you have to trust your senses with that. If it sells, you have to keep replacing it. Usually the stuff (accessories) is skate-branded–I don’t get away from that too much. I’m a pretty ‘core shop.

“I had to add a case, mainly because now I’m actually carrying a lot more product. The store is two years old and started out pretty small. I load the cases up! That’s within reason, of course, I keep them where you tell what’s going on–I don’t want it out of control! I’ve got all my hats, videos, magazines, and backpacks behind the counter on the wall, and the boards are on the floor. I have very little theft. To get a board out, you have to pass the counter.

“I think it (accessory sales) depends on the area–around here there don’t seem to be a lot of kids into the accessories, just maybe the wallets and belts. Socks go pretty good, and that’s usually the parents buying them.”

Matt Loftin at Brothers Boards in Denver, Colorado

“We haven’t really had to make more room for it–our existing cases are just really full now, and we–ve had to use some ingenuity to get it all in there. It’s too easy to lift that kind of stuff.

“Bushings, bearings, tools–there’s a lot more knickknacks: whisky flasks, license-plate holders, you name it. During Christmas we carry more of that stuff, but come summer we carry mostly what we need.

“We do carry a lot of bags–we keep them high up on the wall and pull ’em down if anyone needs to see ’em.”

Rob Aragon at Exit Real World in Portland, Oregon
Web site: exitrealworld.com

“A little bit–we have all of our racks made out of pipe and flange, so it’s easy to add on. Moms always like the Shoo Goo, and wallets and skate tools go well. Nixon watches sell well, we’ve had them for a while, and the photo-book lines have been going well.

“We still have quite a bit out after the holiday still. Now that snow has sold down, we can display more accessories. Belts are easy to display on the end of the flange–we hang them with the pants and shorts. We haven’t really stepped up the amount of accessories, we’re more selective. But the case is getting kind of crowded. The Shorty’s and the Unit (skate) tools are doing really well–they’re self-contained and don’t take up a lot of space in your pocket. All that kind of stuff is in our glass counters.”

“We have just as many videos as accessories?especially DVDs! People really like the enhanced versions.”

Mark Sweetser at Network 17 in Costa Mesa, Californianetwork17.com

“We have each case–a case for bearings, a case for bracelets and belts, so we have expanded that way. We do some Toy Machine toys, but my friends just want to take those, so I try to forget to reorder them. That’s not my main focus! We do keychains and patches. We do books–like the one from Thrasher, Shorty’s, and the Heckler book.

“About 40 percent of Web-site-order customers throw in some type of accessory, more than they do in the store.

“We sell tons of videos and DVDs. We have a wide selection–we carry between 60 to 80 fairly current videos. We’re known for having the videos available first on our site, including less mainstream ones like Blueprint and Tilt Mode’s Man Down. We all like watching videos in the shop. We were the (sales) leaders of CKY videos–we sold tons. Of course now those are dead. We sell a lot of ramp-plan books from Thrasher. Skate wax. We sell just tons of little stuff!”