It’s fall. The kiddos will soon go back to school¿that is if they haven’t already. In much of the U.S., leaves on trees are turning romantic shades of gold and orange in preparation for their downward spiral (but we don’t know anything about that here in So Cal), and days are getting a little shorter. Perhaps a crisp chill has hit the air in your town¿or if you’re lucky you may be enjoying what the un-P.C. refer to as an “Indian Summer.” At any rate, there’s no reason to shed tears over the lost days of summer and those accelerated skate sales. Because when summer’s over, that only means that huge block of the calendar known as “the holiday season” is on its way. Ho, ho, ho indeed.

Can you believe TransWorld SKATEboarding Business is now in its eleventh year? Shocking! And as always, fall signals the start of a new volume of our business journal¿which means it’s time to introduce you to the new shops for our Ten Shops, One Question column. These shops are from various locations around the U.S., and we also have one shop in Canada and one in Australia. Every issue we’ll be contacting these same ten shops to ask a question that pertains to the magazine’s theme as well as to the industry in general. All these successful shop-folk are enthusiastic, bright, and interesting¿their comments are certain to shed a little light on the many vagaries of doing skate business, and can help both shops and manufacturing businesses.

So let’s welcome the new crew of Volume Eleven!

If you have any questions or comments for our ten shops, please address them to: Ten Shops, One Question, 353 Airport Road, Oceanside CA 92054; FAX: (760) 722-0653.

This issue’s question: Which trade shows do you attend?

Hannah Baird at Skateboards Only in Burleigh Head, Australia (For map: it’s on the Gold Coast/mid-east coast)

“We went to a surfing/lifestyle expo a couple weeks ago¿which we did a display at¿in March in Coolongatta. There were only three related skate shops, and some longboard companies¿it was a retail-only kind of show.

“Our distributors do send us catalogs, and we’re lucky to have Kwala skateboards and Kewday skateboards close enough to go visit and have a look around. Over here in Gold Coast, Australia we don’t get everything that’s available. A distributor may chose the most popular graphics of a line, and they send us update sheets every couple of weeks. We tend to order every couple weeks, whenever new stuff comes out. We keep heaps of product in the shop.

“Yeah, I think I’d like to have a trade show close by. I’ll be out in San Diego for the fall ASR show¿I’m looking forward to that.”

Justin Ryan at Subsect Skateboards in Des Moines, Iowa

“We’ve hit ASR every spring and fall¿it’s just a good time to get away and skate. We do write orders; we talk to our sales reps. We use distributors for bearings, trucks, griptape¿stuff like that¿and knickknacks. But we know what sells and we know what graphics sell, as far as decks go, so it’s a little easier to get a better picture of what they have if we deal with the companies directly. With a distributor you may not get decks with the graphic you want, or maybe you’ll only get one¿it’s harder to sell.

“We try to be as ‘core of a skate shop as we can be and still make money. If you’re gonna pick one show to go to, it might as well be ASR¿you’ve got the clothes, skateboarding. The biggest example of what a trade show can do is Alphanumeric¿before they even had clothes, we took a look at the line and placed our first order. It now outsells all our other brands.

“We hit the first day of the show and make all our appointments for that day, then wrap up loose ends on the second day, and by the third day I’m pretty burned out. So much information to process! There are things that’ll be at the trade show that you just can’t get from a magazine. For instance, Adio shoes¿thatas the first shoe company we picked up. We would have never known about it if we hadn’t gone to the show. And it the ASR show is a happening!”

Chuck Mitsui at 808 Skate in Kailua, Hawai’i

“I usually go to the fall San Diego ASR show. Mostly I just look around, I don’t write too many orders there. It’s good to see all the stuff firsthand¿especially the shoes and softgoods. Ordering from the catalog, it’s the product not always what you thought it would be.

“I have friends who live there San Diego, so I can stay with them, visit friends and family. It helps not to have to get a hotel. That’s why we don’t go to the Long Beach ASR show¿the expense. Two times in one year is just too much. The fall-show timing works out good, getting ready to go into Christmas, which is our best time. I try to do the show all in one day.

“The skateboard side is definitely getting to be the majority of the show. Some of the organization is a little wacky¿the layout could be improved. If your company gets put in the wrong spot¿a new company¿it could definitely make a difference in sales.

“We order all direct. A lot of times I go to San Francisco to see family, and I visit the San Francisco companies while I’m there as well. But ASR is where you see everybody. I usually make it a quick trip, a long weekend, which works out really nice because our shop is closed Mondays.”

Matt McClellan at Point Break in Houston, Texas

“We don’t go to trade shows¿we used to go to a whole bunch of them, but now we order through South Shore Distribution and we also order direct. We don’t really see skate reps.

“I honestly think South Shore is a much better thing than a trade show. They don’t carry every brand, but they carry a lot. Trade shows are pretty inconvenient! We have a rep at South Shore who’s real personable, and he helps us get what we need. We contact him once a week with basic orders and special orders. The only benefit of the trade show is walking around looking at stuff, but South Shore has a catalog. And we do order direct from many companies, like Axion and DC.”

Bill Wilson at Full Tilt Board Shop in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada (map note: just to the west of Toronto, 1/2 hour)

“We attend both West Coast ASR trade shows¿in fall and in spring. We write orders at the trade show. But I also have friends in the area, so it’s a good excuse to go to California. I still like to go even if it’s the buying off-season for us¿I just like the atmosphere, which is really good.

“My ordering is probably split between distributors and direct. Hardgoods is probably 60 percent through a Canadian distributor, 40-percent direct. Softgoods orders are probably split 50/50. Softgoods is a big reason I go to the ASRs¿to see full lines and samples. We also get to see all the shoe colorways, and we can get a feel for where it’s going, skateboarding in general: like the brighter skate-shoes I saw down there last time that are just now hitting here.

“I go to the shows for the whole time, and I stay really busy between hardgoods and softgoods orders. I think the shows are pretty good. Everyone’s always in good moods.”

Melanie Loveland at Daddies Board Shop in Portland, Oregon

“The trade shows we go to are the ones up in Oregon and Washington, but we’ve not spent the money to venture to California or Vegas. For skate we go to a show in the Portland area¿the Active Lifestyle Show. We write orders there, a small amount. We’ll sit down and write an order at the show, but mostly it’s a look-see¿mainly we come home and think about it before we write an order. The companies we deal with are pretty lenient¿if the clock strikes midnight, they won’t not give us the show discount.

“We deal 60/40 with distributors and direct from the manufacturers. It doesn’t always serve us best to buy direct from a company. You can’t just order one deck as a special order easily. Then I just go to my distributor for that item to be added onto my order. Tum Yeto, Birdhouse¿those guys I go to directly. Buying direct gives you a better selection.

“Making it to the ASR shows is an expense we’d rather add to inventory instead. Also leaving the shop for that long is hard to justify.”

Ted Okamoto at Vanguard in Redondo Beach, California

“We go to both ASRs. If I feel it’s necessary, like if they’re pre-booking for cut and sew-type clothing, I’ll pre-book. Or if they have a trade-show discount, I’ll order.

“For me, because I’m a local Californian, the trade shows are more important for getting acquainted with the phone voices, establishing better relationships with the people I deal with on the phone on a regular basis. People in Southern California are spoiled by easy access. The companies are close by, and we could just show up if we wanted.

“One benefit of the show is you get to see new products, like a new truck design that might be debuting there. Shoes are definitely important to see at the show¿the photos don’t do them justice. For my business purposes, I think it’s best to schedule the shows during the week¿the floor is quieter and I can write orders. It also works better for leaving my shop business, which is also slower on weekdays. But for social reasons the weekend shows are nice¿more energy and vibe, it’s just hard to take care of business.

“Maybe if ASR wanted a bigger draw, they could have X amount of days for pure business, and X amount for the public to see everything. I want to do business, and I want to see the energy, which is good for skateboarding. Setting days aside for the public would take care of some of that.”

Aaron Costa at Krudco in Rochester, New York

“I attend one show¿the one in Atlantic City ASR, that’s where we basically write our orders. We don’t have the resources to take everyone to the West Coast. I’d rather take a short drive¿I shouldn’t have to take a long flight¿but all the industry kids aren’t there Atlantic City. I don’t understand why the show over here isn’t as good¿I guess because most of the business is concentrated in the West. I haven’t been able to go to Orlando Surf Expo yet because that’s a long drive¿I’d have to take a week off.

“When I go to Atlantic City, it’s to see the guys from the West Coast I talk to on a weekly basis. It’s good to shoot the shit, strengthen the friendships¿and they do become friends. Maybe I’ll do an order with them, look at the new product, or catch up on some new line that doesn’t have field reps. I stay up-to-date on the companies I talk to every week or two weeks, but with the others the contact at the show is a good idea. And it’s always good to bring down your team riders and maybe get some coverage. But the trade shows are all vert demos, and on the East Coast we’re all street. Now if the trade shows had a street course, that’d be something.”

Matt Sickels at Milosport in Salt Lake City, Utah

“I do attend trade shows¿usually ASR in San Diego. We write orders after the show¿not there, but we do it as soon as we can afterward. This year we were definitely in on the show specials. The best part of the show is talking with the people and going over the products with the companies themselves. Seeing the softgoods is important. We try to at least follow up on clothes and shoes if we don’t get a chance there¿although we usually do. There aren’t too many skate shops in the Salt Lake area, but we do get a lot of reps out to see us. We carry pretty much all the major lines.

“Usually I’d say four of us from the shop go, and two of us do the ordering. Two guys from the shop, our roamers, scout out new product. We try to involve everyone in the decisions¿team, employees, and management. We have some team members who work here part-time.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever attend l order easily. Then I just go to my distributor for that item to be added onto my order. Tum Yeto, Birdhouse¿those guys I go to directly. Buying direct gives you a better selection.

“Making it to the ASR shows is an expense we’d rather add to inventory instead. Also leaving the shop for that long is hard to justify.”

Ted Okamoto at Vanguard in Redondo Beach, California

“We go to both ASRs. If I feel it’s necessary, like if they’re pre-booking for cut and sew-type clothing, I’ll pre-book. Or if they have a trade-show discount, I’ll order.

“For me, because I’m a local Californian, the trade shows are more important for getting acquainted with the phone voices, establishing better relationships with the people I deal with on the phone on a regular basis. People in Southern California are spoiled by easy access. The companies are close by, and we could just show up if we wanted.

“One benefit of the show is you get to see new products, like a new truck design that might be debuting there. Shoes are definitely important to see at the show¿the photos don’t do them justice. For my business purposes, I think it’s best to schedule the shows during the week¿the floor is quieter and I can write orders. It also works better for leaving my shop business, which is also slower on weekdays. But for social reasons the weekend shows are nice¿more energy and vibe, it’s just hard to take care of business.

“Maybe if ASR wanted a bigger draw, they could have X amount of days for pure business, and X amount for the public to see everything. I want to do business, and I want to see the energy, which is good for skateboarding. Setting days aside for the public would take care of some of that.”

Aaron Costa at Krudco in Rochester, New York

“I attend one show¿the one in Atlantic City ASR, that’s where we basically write our orders. We don’t have the resources to take everyone to the West Coast. I’d rather take a short drive¿I shouldn’t have to take a long flight¿but all the industry kids aren’t there Atlantic City. I don’t understand why the show over here isn’t as good¿I guess because most of the business is concentrated in the West. I haven’t been able to go to Orlando Surf Expo yet because that’s a long drive¿I’d have to take a week off.

“When I go to Atlantic City, it’s to see the guys from the West Coast I talk to on a weekly basis. It’s good to shoot the shit, strengthen the friendships¿and they do become friends. Maybe I’ll do an order with them, look at the new product, or catch up on some new line that doesn’t have field reps. I stay up-to-date on the companies I talk to every week or two weeks, but with the others the contact at the show is a good idea. And it’s always good to bring down your team riders and maybe get some coverage. But the trade shows are all vert demos, and on the East Coast we’re all street. Now if the trade shows had a street course, that’d be something.”

Matt Sickels at Milosport in Salt Lake City, Utah

“I do attend trade shows¿usually ASR in San Diego. We write orders after the show¿not there, but we do it as soon as we can afterward. This year we were definitely in on the show specials. The best part of the show is talking with the people and going over the products with the companies themselves. Seeing the softgoods is important. We try to at least follow up on clothes and shoes if we don’t get a chance there¿although we usually do. There aren’t too many skate shops in the Salt Lake area, but we do get a lot of reps out to see us. We carry pretty much all the major lines.

“Usually I’d say four of us from the shop go, and two of us do the ordering. Two guys from the shop, our roamers, scout out new product. We try to involve everyone in the decisions¿team, employees, and management. We have some team members who work here part-time.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever attend the Long Beach show. The location in San Diego is a little better for us¿we like to go to the beach and the skateparks and everything. And we have a lot of friends in the industry.”

Nick Halkias at West Side Skate Shop in Tarpon Springs, Florida

(For map: little north of St. Petersburg)

“I’d say the San Diego ASR show is the most important show, and Long Beach ASR as well. We go to Orlando Surf Expo to show our faces, but it’s not a real order-writing show. The Atlanta Surf Expo is the same¿funky glasses, hula girls, not a lot of skateboard companies. We just opened in November, so we need quick product turnover, but in the future we’d like to expand our clothing line¿maybe we’ll check out MAGIC trade show in Las Vegas, see what they have.

“Most of the time we just order on a need basis¿if we see really innovative stuff at a trade show we may pre-book. We have a really good relationship with most of the sales reps in the area¿that’s mostly shoes. The fun part of the trade show is seeing everyone, but it’s also a place to see the new product, see what graphics are out.

“It’s hard for anything a little different product-wise to come up¿you have to sell it to the majority of skaters. Here we’re geared toward the fourteen-to-eighteen age group¿probably the group who’ll keep the sport alive.”end the Long Beach show. The location in San Diego is a little better for us¿we like to go to the beach and the skateparks and everything. And we have a lot of friends in the industry.”

Nick Halkias at West Side Skate Shop in Tarpon Springs, Florida

(For map: little north of St. Petersburg)

“I’d say the San Diego ASR show is the most important show, and Long Beach ASR as well. We go to Orlando Surf Expo to show our faces, but it’s not a real order-writing show. The Atlanta Surf Expo is the same¿funky glasses, hula girls, not a lot of skateboard companies. We just opened in November, so we need quick product turnover, but in the future we’d like to expand our clothing line¿maybe we’ll check out MAGIC trade show in Las Vegas, see what they have.

“Most of the time we just order on a need basis¿if we see really innovative stuff at a trade show we may pre-book. We have a really good relationship with most of the sales reps in the area¿that’s mostly shoes. The fun part of the trade show is seeing everyone, but it’s also a place to see the new product, see what graphics are out.

“It’s hard for anything a little different product-wise to come up¿you have to sell it to the majority of skaters. Here we’re geared toward the fourteen-to-eighteen age group¿probably the group who’ll keep the sport alive.”