Hey, it’s every manufacturer’s and retailer’s favorite time of the year¿the holiday season! Any crazy aberrations of weather that robbed you of sales at other times during the past year (sweltering heat, hurricanes, floods, ice storms, unseasonable cold) can be made up for by the shopping needs of so many generous gift-givers. It’s time to boost sales and promote product, and if you’re feeling especially jolly, you might even see fit to run special holiday promotions.

The nice people featured in our Ten Shops, One Question column can enlighten you with their honest observations and seasoned advice. These shops are from various locations around the U.S., and we also have one shop each in Canada and Australia. Every issue we contact 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.

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: Do you see increased interest in any wheels other than the typical white 56 millimeter street wheels?

Owner Aaron Costa at Krudco in Rochester, New York

“That’s pretty much the most popular wheel right there¿white 56 and 58 millimeter. We haven’t had much interest in the dual durometer¿we’ve got the Spitfires Power Cored dual durometer, and the Darkstars got a good response, so we picked them up again. But none of those are selling like the regulars. Plain wheels sell for like twenty a set, a lot of people want the name-branders like Spitfire, which run like 30, and the Spitfire dual durometers are like 33, not that much of a jump. But I’ll flatspot any wheel out in two days! I’ll try anything new, but if kids know they’re just gonna wear ‘em out anyhow … the street’s are pretty rough around here, and we don’t skate schoolyards. I ride like a 99 durometer. If the wheels are too hard, you’re hating it¿it’s like skating on rocks. If we were skating tennis courts it’d be a different story.

“Spit’s are the quickest-selling wheels we carry. Ghetto Childs have been doing well. We try to push Black Labels a little bit because we think they’re good wheels.”

Owner Bill Wilson at Full Tilt Board Shop in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

“We have probably a ten-percent interest in colored wheels¿predominantly the younger kids. Maybe another five percent are interested in big soft wheels, those are for the older guys who are out cruising. Dual-durometer wheels aren’t doing much yet, but we carry them. Last year wheel sizes were going up and up, maxing out about 60 mm, but this year they’ve been no bigger than 56 or 57, and that’s going down again. But then there’s that whole other category who want 65 or bigger¿longboarders¿and that’s kinda new for us up here. We don’t have the same beach culture as California, so that trend took longer to hit here in the suburbs.

“I guess the creation of all the skateboard brands have finally carved their sections of the wheel market¿now they’re really a viable part of it, right in there with say Spitfire and Powell.”

Ed Zolot at Point Break in Houston, Texas

“If we’re talking about blanks, we sell mostly 56s. But we sell Spitfires ten to one over anything else. We have a very sophisticated inventory system that sorts everything we carry by type, color, what have you. And since we’ve installed this program, just after we opened, it gives us very specific reorder suggestions. We order Spitfires once a week. I wish my T-shirts sold as well.

“We’ve had core dual durometer wheels and we’ve sold them, but the biggest problem we’ve had with them is education from the comnies¿what are the benefits of the core wheels? I try hard to educate myself, but maybe I’ve missed some info here! We carry one or two dual durometer sets of wheels of each type, and they sell fine¿some of the kids like ‘em.

“We carry 50s all the way up to like 76, with the ‘meat’ being 54 through 56. We order wheels quite a bit, and color wheels from Powell are a consistent seller. Originally kids bought the colored wheels, but now we sell them to just about everybody.”

Hannah Baird at Skateboards Only in Burleigh Head (Gold Coast), Australia

“Ah yeah, we are selling the mixed-color Spitfires, a majority to the youngers. And the kids just love those Speed Demons wheel sets with like two reds and two yellows. We have a range from about 49 to 60 mm, with the majority under 55. It’s definitely gotten smaller at the moment¿that’s from almost all 56, 57s a couple months ago. I noticed the change just in the time I’ve been gone for a month that included ASR in California.

“I haven’t got any dual durometers¿well, I had one set of Spitfire ones and they’re gone now. Besides the Spitfires we could get the Darkstars, but they’re very expensive. And the Core Technologies, but they’re also too expensive. We’d have to sell the Darkstars for around 75 dollars 48 dollars U.S., as opposed to the usual 60 $38.40 U.S. for regular wheels, which we’ve got on sale for 50 dollars 32 dollars U.S.. We just don’t get the call for them dual durometers, but if we did, we’d order them for that kid. There may be a few more companies that have them now here, but I have to catch up on my paperwork to see.”

John Montesi at Westside in Tarpon Springs, Florida

“Yeah I’ve noticed those new core wheels are starting to make more of an impact on the kids. Some little kids are saying they don’t flat-spot as badly.

“New wheels are supposed to cure for a month¿this is what I’ve always heard¿or they deteriorate. In my experience, some wheel brands, or even batches, aren’t holding up like they should, and maybe not curing long enough is the problem.

“I noticed that for the Ghetto Childs, with the Muska push, sales are really picking up, and A-Team is starting to sell, too. Kids skate here, but not so many as in California, so they really look hard at the magazines and copy what the pros are riding. Kids are starting to ride smaller wheels¿53s, even 50s again.

“I get flowed wheels, so I don’t want to dog anybody any brand, but with the regular wheels I’ve always noticed that eventually the core pulls out after so much wear and tear, so maybe the dual durometer will prevent that. Wheels are weird¿just the shape¿if they’re too skinny they ride wrong. A lot of people just like a certain shape.”

Justin Ryan at Subsect Skateboards in Des Moines, Iowa

“That’s pretty darn close to what we sell¿the best-selling wheel brand we have is Spitfire, it doesn’t matter whether it’s got the colored swirl or not. Or the size! If the wheels are within three millimeters of what they want, they’ll buy ‘em. Anything Spitfire. Also, the clear Birdhouse, Hook-Ups, and Speed Demons are pretty popular¿they’re softer, and our streets are so bad that really helps the kids out.

“I was just just at ASR, and I noticed the shops there in San Diego were selling 50s and other small wheels we could never sell. We can’t sell anything under 54. Especially going into winter¿sand and road salt on the streets. It’s for the ice, but it completely ruins skateboarding. We have a roller-skating rink that drags out ramps two nights a week in winter, one night a week in summer. Other than that it’s a three-hour drive to the nearest skate park.

“The dual durometers sell, only because it’s a new innovation kids haven’t seen before¿Spitfire dual durometers sell the best. Like I said, if they’re Spitfire and we have ‘em, we’ll sell them! We sell 90-percent Spitfires.”

Matt Sickels at Milosport in Salt Lake City, Utah

“I’d say for throughout the middle of the summer, we went through a small phase where we sold 50s to 53s, and then we slowly started going back around to 54 to 56. I think it was just what time certain kids skate¿kids getting their setups for summer who usually go a little smaller. And here, when the weather changes, people go to the indoor ramps and skate bigger wheels. Right now the roads are pretty rough, too. The people who do skate the city use a 56 or somewhere around there.

“We’ve actually been doing a lot of dual durometers, about a quarter of our wheel sales¿a lot of the vert skaters seem to like those, too. The Livewire wheels with the weird hubs were going really well at the beginning of the year because they’re so light and fast¿we had a group of guys who started a local trend with them. But then some people were breaking them and stuff, so now we don’t carry as many as we did.

“Obviously white always does really well. We do carry the solid colors, and they do better than swirly colors. Solids like orange and black do well. We sell a majority of Spitfires, and we go with Powell Mini Logos for blank wheels¿we get those in colors like blue and white. And as far as wheels people ask for, that’s mainly Ghetto Child, Think, and Landspeed.

“We special-order bigger wheels for people who ask for them, and we have been doing a lot of longboard wheels¿here the guys hit the hills on those things or jet around campus. We don’t usually carry the X-treme wheels knobbies for off-roading; that’s special order. Kids are into them here, you take them to the resorts and ride the trails on ‘em.”

Melanie Loveland at Daddies Board Shop in Portland, Oregon

“Oh yeah¿we’re real big into longboarding and luging, so we sell a good deal of Kryptonics, the 75 millimeter ones, and Gravity makes a 76, so we sell a lot of those. We had slight interest in core dual durometer wheels, but kids still tend to pick wheels for graphics¿and also, no one really understands the science behind them.

“Generally little guys are drawn to the colored Spitfires, but the older more experienced skater will always pick white. I usually only bring in a few of the colored wheels. We sell the dickens out of 58s, 59s, and 60s¿Burnside’s right near here, and guys who skate there tend to want the slightly bigger wheels, 59, 60 millimeter.”

Ray Clantz at Vanguard in Redondo Beach, California

“Darkstar dual durometers are going off. I don’t know what it is, I just know they’re good. Everyone at the store pretty much rides them. We’re close to World Industries here, Daewon Song and Shiloh Greathouse come in here a lot. There’s nothing bad I can say about dual durometer. I started riding them three or four months ago. They don’t flat-spot easily, they’re faster on concrete, they’re smoother. They have like a solid seal when you’re riding them. I haven’t had any problems with any of them.

“Spitfires are our best sellers overall. The most popular size is 50 to 54. We carry down to 45, but we don’t carry a lot of them.

“Multi-colored wheels don’t do that great; we sell some. Most of what we sell are blanks, and we pretty much only carry Powell blanks.”

Suzan Kanzic at 808 Skate in Honolulu, Hawai’i

“We’re around that same average for wheel sales. Younger kids like the colored wheels¿eight, nine, ten years old. Older skaters like the plain white. We carry dual durometer¿they do okay, nothing too great. We don’t have people coming in asking for them. And as far as the really big soft wheels, the longboard people are a little more interested in things like that.

“Fifty is the smallest we carry, and they don’t sell that well. Fifty-two to 56 range is what sells. We do sell a lot of blanks, especially for people starting out; they’re just happy with something that’ll roll. We have the Powell blanks¿they do okay. We have one shelf of Esport in Salt Lake City, Utah

“I’d say for throughout the middle of the summer, we went through a small phase where we sold 50s to 53s, and then we slowly started going back around to 54 to 56. I think it was just what time certain kids skate¿kids getting their setups for summer who usually go a little smaller. And here, when the weather changes, people go to the indoor ramps and skate bigger wheels. Right now the roads are pretty rough, too. The people who do skate the city use a 56 or somewhere around there.

“We’ve actually been doing a lot of dual durometers, about a quarter of our wheel sales¿a lot of the vert skaters seem to like those, too. The Livewire wheels with the weird hubs were going really well at the beginning of the year because they’re so light and fast¿we had a group of guys who started a local trend with them. But then some people were breaking them and stuff, so now we don’t carry as many as we did.

“Obviously white always does really well. We do carry the solid colors, and they do better than swirly colors. Solids like orange and black do well. We sell a majority of Spitfires, and we go with Powell Mini Logos for blank wheels¿we get those in colors like blue and white. And as far as wheels people ask for, that’s mainly Ghetto Child, Think, and Landspeed.

“We special-order bigger wheels for people who ask for them, and we have been doing a lot of longboard wheels¿here the guys hit the hills on those things or jet around campus. We don’t usually carry the X-treme wheels knobbies for off-roading; that’s special order. Kids are into them here, you take them to the resorts and ride the trails on ‘em.”

Melanie Loveland at Daddies Board Shop in Portland, Oregon

“Oh yeah¿we’re real big into longboarding and luging, so we sell a good deal of Kryptonics, the 75 millimeter ones, and Gravity makes a 76, so we sell a lot of those. We had slight interest in core dual durometer wheels, but kids still tend to pick wheels for graphics¿and also, no one really understands the science behind them.

“Generally little guys are drawn to the colored Spitfires, but the older more experienced skater will always pick white. I usually only bring in a few of the colored wheels. We sell the dickens out of 58s, 59s, and 60s¿Burnside’s right near here, and guys who skate there tend to want the slightly bigger wheels, 59, 60 millimeter.”

Ray Clantz at Vanguard in Redondo Beach, California

“Darkstar dual durometers are going off. I don’t know what it is, I just know they’re good. Everyone at the store pretty much rides them. We’re close to World Industries here, Daewon Song and Shiloh Greathouse come in here a lot. There’s nothing bad I can say about dual durometer. I started riding them three or four months ago. They don’t flat-spot easily, they’re faster on concrete, they’re smoother. They have like a solid seal when you’re riding them. I haven’t had any problems with any of them.

“Spitfires are our best sellers overall. The most popular size is 50 to 54. We carry down to 45, but we don’t carry a lot of them.

“Multi-colored wheels don’t do that great; we sell some. Most of what we sell are blanks, and we pretty much only carry Powell blanks.”

Suzan Kanzic at 808 Skate in Honolulu, Hawai’i

“We’re around that same average for wheel sales. Younger kids like the colored wheels¿eight, nine, ten years old. Older skaters like the plain white. We carry dual durometer¿they do okay, nothing too great. We don’t have people coming in asking for them. And as far as the really big soft wheels, the longboard people are a little more interested in things like that.

“Fifty is the smallest we carry, and they don’t sell that well. Fifty-two to 56 range is what sells. We do sell a lot of blanks, especially for people starting out; they’re just happy with something that’ll roll. We have the Powell blanks¿they do okay. We have one shelf of Element, Ghetto Child, Think, Girl, Alien Workshop, Landspeed, Chocolate, and then we have one whole shelf of Spitfires.”

Correction:In Volume 11 Number 1, I misquoted Westside shop’s Nick Halkias as saying, “The Atlanta Surf Expo is the same … ” when he actually said “Orlando.” He knows there’s no trade show in Atlanta¿I’m the goofball. Sorry, Nick.¿Sharon H.of Element, Ghetto Child, Think, Girl, Alien Workshop, Landspeed, Chocolate, and then we have one whole shelf of Spitfires.”

Correction:In Volume 11 Number 1, I misquoted Westside shop’s Nick Halkias as saying, “The Atlanta Surf Expo is the same … ” when he actually said “Orlando.” He knows there’s no trade show in Atlanta¿I’m the goofball. Sorry, Nick.¿Sharon H.