Spring is in the air, in spite of our pal El Niño.
Okay, maybe a moist spring is in the air–but remember, spring quickly turns into summer, which always brings good things to the skate industry. So start cheering up, and maybe buy an umbrella.
Every issue we contact the same ten shops to ask them a question that relates to our magazine and industry. What these folks have to say may reinforce what you already know–or it could astonish you. At any rate, the information we bring you from them will help both shops and manufacturing businesses. If you have a question you'd like to ask our shops, please send it to: SKATEboarding Business Ten Shops, 353 Airport Road, Oceanside, California 92054; or FAX: (760) 722-0653.
This issue's question: What board sizes and concaves are people looking for now?
Marc Mohammed at Irie in Brossard, Quebec, Canada
“Oh god! I say base sizes are on the bell curve: 7 3/4- to about 8 1/2-inch widths. I haven't had much demand for longer boards, but I'm assuming that the wider boards are naturally coming in a little longer sizes from the manufacturers. As far as concaves go, it's about half and half–some people like a lot of concave, some don't like much at all. People like it or really hate it–it's a personal choice, not really a trend.
“I think graphics still have a big impact on board sales–like Birdhouse kicks ass because they have good riders and good graphics. Or a company without the greatest riders but good graphics will sell, too. Star power or graphic power. The girl-graphics boards from Acme sell really well.”
Justin Amadon at Cutting Edge Skatepark in Bennington, Vermont
“Probably about 8 1/2- to 8 3/4-inch widths sell best–people are trying to get a little less toe and heel drag, and I think most of the companies are coming out with wider models. A lot of the wider boards coming out this season are also a little longer, because the companies probably figure the rider is bigger, but there are still plenty of shorter boards, and requests for them.
“I haven't really heard people asking for more concave; there hasn't been too much change there. Here at the shop we've got a lot of old-school riders who like a lot of concave–but that's just the one crew. Lately I've had people coming in who are 'color conscious,' not really checking out the boards for shapes, but more for graphics.”
Nadia Serrano at Street Machine in San Diego, California
“Mainly people ask for between size 7 3/4 and 8 1/4 inches, and in concave, pretty much anything not too deep, and not too flat of a deck–they're going for medium. Graphics are definitely still selling boards for us, but mainly the pros' names sell. I think all the companies should be like Girl–no team decks, they only have pro decks; it gives more recognition to the riders. Shoes and clothes and other stuff are already putting the company name out there enough. I'd actually like to see companies be able to make pro decks more cheaply.”
Eric Obre adds:
“Our best sellers are our own boards–the Street Machine decks. We aren't a company and don't have to pay riders, so we can do graphics and still sell them cheaper. It's a good alternative for the skater who just broke his board but doesn't have money. Skaters pick boards out by shape anyhow–and if they know it, the wood company. As far as size and concave go, we've found a good medium–a nice range of all types from different companies.”
Rocky Cagnoni at Warped Sports in Kearney, Nebraska
“I'd say mid profile–I'm getting a lot of eight by 31 7/8-inch boards. To a certaiextent being near a park makes a difference in sales here. But the younger skaters are going with what their eye picks up first–although they're taking technical stuff into consideration, and they tend to have loyalty to one company. The older riders are sticking with companies they know and trust–we're selling a lot of Scarecrow right now.
“Concave is pretty much set–there're some trends, but mostly people are sticking with the middle ground.”
Aaron Costa at Krudco. in Rochester, New York
“We sell a lot of blanks in 8 1/4 inch widths, in other boards, too, as well as eight inch. There are also little boards, but sometimes even the little kids want to ride a 8 1/2-inch board. A few people are trying longer boards, about 34 inches–like the Reals. All winter long it's been 8 1/4-inch blanks. Locally we have a roller rink with some obstacles and stuff–it's been helping winter sales. The weather has been pretty kind, and weekends have been nice, so we've had great weekend sales.
“Concaves–no one really even bothers with worrying about it. People don't want flat boards, though. They may not buy a certain board because it's too flat, so kids definitely like a little concave right now. Some companies that switched their wood recently aren't selling as well now because the boards are too flat.”
Chris Jensen at High Rollers in Las Vegas, Nevada
“Everything's pretty much the same as it has been for a while–like 8 1/2-inch widths. We've been seeing more vert riders, and boards are getting maybe a little bit longer, probably due to more parks and people building halfpipes around here.
“People like the Power Plies made by Santa Cruz–they're really strong decks and don't start getting flimsy like a noodle the way other boards do. There's this company called Allied Boardworks that makes really good blanks. They make 'em in all different sizes. Concave is a very personal thing.”
Kyle Reynolds at Cal's Pharmacy Skateboards and Snowboards (CPNW) in Portland, Oregon
“Well, in sizes I noticed boards got big for a while–8 1/4 inches, bigger size boards–then they skaters realized that's a big board to handle. Even little kids thought they had to ride these big boards that weighed more than them–that was six months or so ago. So they're moving toward eight inches, which is the most common size. Now we sell a lot of 7 3/4 and eight inches, when before we couldn't even sell those. We've always sold a lot of Deluxe, and they had a lot of big boards. Now Deluxe is making some smaller boards. We sell a lot of World, Girl, The Firm. And also Tum Yeto–they have a lot of boards around eight, 8 1/2 inches.
“As far as concave goes–last summer kids were stoked on Zoo York decks, which have a lot of concave, but that seems to have tapered off. Nothing too extreme. A lot of companies, like Santa Cruz, have like twenty little concave things going: 'Give me the Power Ply Deep-Dish!' But other times they customers get a little confused. I think it's better when they just stand on it and say, 'This is kinda deep, I like it.' Our area is pretty unique–a lot of shops sell more cartoon graphics. I don't know if it's just the different style for this area, but sometimes cartoony boards don't sell at all! Even the young kids come in and really check out the boards–kids are more discerning here.”
Peter Karvonen at Faith Skate Supply in Birmingham, Alabama
“A little while back, all the big guys were riding the 8 1/2-inch boards, but lately they're going down to eight inches wide, with shorter wheel bases. The wide boards were really an East Coast trend; in the videos they were riding big boards. The big boards are great for stability, but as far as flip tricks go, they weren't working out–so the boards have gone smaller again. With the young kids who shop here, we've been helping them out by suggesting smaller boards.
“We haven't had requests for more concave–a lot of the guys around here are asking for flatter. No one wants them completely flat, but no requests for deep concave. It's all street skating here–no ramps around at all! Around here it seems to be all company driven–all Zero or World Industries decks will sell, regardless of shape. Shapes haven't seemed to matter to the little kids, but to the older ones, of course it does. Skateboarding is definitely growing around here–there's some drop-off for the winter due to bad weather, but the skaters are back in spring.”
Steve Kobata at Sessions in Sunnyvale, California
“Well, I'd say sizewise, we sell probably from 7 1/2- to 8 1/4-inch widths, with the sizes at either end being less popular, like maybe one guy wants a 7 3/4-inch width board. As far as concaves go, there's a double standard–some guys want a lot, and others don't want the board if there's too much concave. It depends on the company they're buying the board from–some companies are known for more concave, others are known for not having much. People get used to buying a certain concave from a certain company, and they get upset if it's not what they expect.
“I think there's a mixture of trends–graphics still play a role. If a kid's buying his own board, he'll buy something he can afford and likes. If the parents are buying the board, it might be based on price or the graphic. Subtle changes are going on in the deck market in overall length, nose and tail width–specifications. People are barely aware of the changes until they notice the board rides a little differently.”
Parker Deamer at East Coast Sunsets in Chantilly, Virginia
“I don't hear many things about concave; only the guys who've been riding for a while get technical with concave, not the kids. Anywhere from 7 1/2- to 8 1/2-inch widths have been selling right now. Every once in a while a big guy will come in asking for a nine–and we can accommodate him, there are nine-inch decks.
“Sales have a lot more to do with the pro riders and company names than graphics–but there're always little kids who want to go graphics. I think for a lot of people it's both company loyalty and it's in their heads that a particular company does well for them, and they'll stick with it. Others know the companies they like and want to support, and they'll pick shapes they want from those companies. Right now I just wish we'd sell more! It's been kind of wet weather, snow off and on this winter.”