Outlaws, my ass!

With the ubiquitous presence of skateboarders on mainstream TV, it’s hard to remember the good old days when skateboarding was basically an outlaw pastime and no beverage company of any sort could be bothered to recognize its existence, much less a multinational megaconglomerate. Just last night a brief TV snippet promoting some teen-oriented show that’s part of the new WB fall lineup had a character doing a flip trick down a set of stairs! Suddenly, skateboarding (and skateboarders by association/necessity) is “it”¿you know, the hot, hyped thing. Unlike Tae Bo classes with Billy Blanks, not everyone wants to actually participate in skateboarding, but an awful lot of folks wouldn’t mind taking it for a ride, so to speak.

Which isn’t to say that all the attention is a bad thing¿just amusing. From the recent X-Games with Tony Hawk’s amazing 900 to the Tarzan promotion at McDonald’s, skateboarding’s profile has never been higher. And here’s where our ten shops come in: over the course of the year, we’ll contact these same ten shops in various locations around the U.S., and one each in Canada and Australia, and ask a question that pertains to the magazine’s theme as well as to the industry in general. 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 they 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 television events like the X-Games translate into more sales for your shop?

Todd Jacobs at Vanguard in Redondo Beach, California

“I couldn’t really say¿I think skateboarding in general is what’s happening. In our area a new skatepark was just put in. I think that’s been more of a factor than the X-Games. The Games help, though.

“After the X-Games, some people talked about the 900 and were impressed, but no real extra sales. No one can skateboard like that all the time, but it does show the professional athlete side. The true skateboarder is generally a little more rough around the edges, and more into the street scene. And it’s those skaters who are more bummed about the TV coverage.

“The Sprite commercials are super cool¿puts a little plug in people’s heads, keeps it out there. I get more bummed when the skate companies sell to major chain stores than when mainstream media uses skateboarding. When skate companies sell to the major retailers, we have to cut back. Although we don’t carry them in the shop, I have to say Vans does a good job with TV advertising for being mainstream, and they put back into skateboarding.”

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

“We don’t seem to get as much coverage during prime viewing hours, but we do get it. Some people get ESPN, but a large number don’t. We have TSN, The Sports Network. They buy feeds from ESPN, so we’re at their mercy as to whether they’ll pick up a show or not. They also may put skate stuff on at strange hours. I watched some of the San Francisco X-Games coverage, but not any skateboarding. The hours for that were like after-school, when I’m here at the shop. It’s also not advertised so much up here.

“I have a feeling the coverage does affect sales¿maybe bringing older skaters back. But it’s hard to measure. I think it helps for young kids to see it, but also the twenty-year-olds who maybe stopped skating and see it on TV, thinking, ‘I really want to start up again.’

“We have the Warped Tour, and Paramount Canada’s Wonderland¿a big Disney World-type amusement park that’s done a skate/BMX demo. Everyone’s trying to do something extreme. And for the last 80 years we’ve had the Canadian National Exposition¿which features a skatepark f the two weeks it’s on, and they host a competition including the Canadian National Championships. The Outdoor Life Network has given our sport a big push here. All these things give skaters another reason to continue. In Eastern Canada, skateboarding is really still growing, and the TV coverage can only help.”

Aaron Costa at Krudco in Rochester, New York

“I’ve felt a little bit of increased interest, but nothing major. I had people call the shop after the DC ad ran, though, asking for stuff. I had a kid come in today, he seemed new to skateboarding. He said, ‘You guys have the new Andy Macdonald shoe? Tony Hawk is the best skateboarder ever!’ It was funny¿about eighteen years old and all he knew was TV skateboarding, all about the X-Games. My business increased by one customer, at least.

“Most skateboarders take it televised skateboarding as whatever¿in the outside world, the 900 was this big deal. But for us, not such a big deal. All his Tony Hawk’s friends were amped there, and it was cool, but skateboarding keeps on going, It wasn’t the pinnacle of skateboarding. Maybe some little kids who’re caught up in the TV world were really into it, but I don’t even watch TV!

“I hope it televised skateboarding does generate some business for skate shops. It’s been fairly positive overall. But I’m not in a ‘cool’ place, I’m in Rochester! It may have helped me to communicate with the parents who come into shop for or with their kids. And I try to show them there’s more to skateboarding as well. I like to educate¿can’t go around thinking that X-Games is how it is. Parks have opened up¿the X-Games may be partly responsible for that.”

Nick Halkias at Westside in Tarpon Springs, Florida

“I’ll be honest: I haven’t really heard too many skaters kids talk about the televised stuff, it’s been more like their parents and grandparents who come in all stoked after the events are on TV. And we get some little kids who’re just graduating from little plastic toy-store boards. The shows do a great job of editing and conveying the importance of accomplishing certain tricks to those who have no knowledge of skateboarding.

“Anything positive definitely helps skateboarding. I can’t really say it stimulates sales, but we get the younger kids, and also it makes skateboarding more legitimate in non-skateboarders’ eyes. I was disappointed at not seeing the street X-Games coverage; I’m not sure if vert is pushed harder by them ESPN because it translates more easily to viewers onscreen. I’ve seen Sprite commercials, and those commercials for McDonald’s with Tarzan, and it brings skateboarding to people who normally don’t see it. If a skateboarding company advertises on TV, though, I think it scares away the ‘core audience.

“I love seeing people I know in commercials, and I’m not down on skating on TV at all. I just wish anyone who made money off skateboarding would put money back into skating¿and not drop it like they did after the 80s. I don’t want to see skateboarding go through that again. I just hope anyone prospering from using skateboarding is putting money back in.”

Chuck Mitsui at 808 Skate in Kailua, Hawaii

“I’m not sure, I’d probably say no. I don’t have television!

“The Warped Tour was here the last two years, and that definitely made people excited and sales go higher, but that’s true of any demo around here¿this is a small place.

“People did come in talking about the DC ad on TV¿I think it’s good to have someone inside the scene, an ad made by a company within the culture. I think it’s more accurate than the X-Games showing what they think skateboarding is.

“It’s X-Games coverage definitely good, though¿here people surf, but the more they see skateboarding, they may think, ‘Hey, I’ll get a longboard skateboard or something.’ And the more they see it, the more credibility it has. It’s not just for drug addicts, it’s a legitimate sport! As soon as there’s money involved and you can make a living at it, it’s more acceptable. We actually do a lot of ads on television for back to school and whatnot¿it’s a good medium for us.”

Justin Ryan at Subsect Skateboards in Des Moines, Iowa

“Yeah, I think we’ve gotten a lot more first-time skateboarders after they’ve seen that the X-Games. ESPN shows it as a sport instead of as a hooligan thing, and the parents hit on that¿it’s legitimate. When they see ESPN, ABC, and Mountain Dew getting behind skateboarding, it puts it in a different realm, like NFL football or NBA basketball. I think it’s better than having people see like a 151 video first; that shows a side of skateboarding, but maybe it’s better they see it as a competition instead. Then if the kids get into skateboarding and grow up in it, they’ll see the rest. I do think it’s kinda strange, though, that the street skaters at the X-Games may not be the best ones¿maybe there’s someone better who couldn’t make it to all the qualifiers.

“We definitely sold a lot of Tony Hawk boards that week after the 900 at the X-Games. We’re in the Midwest where skateboarding doesn’t have such a high profile¿just at the point where we’re thinking about getting a skatepark. It definitely exposed people to skateboarding who weren’t exposed to it before.

“I liked the DC ad, I’d rather see that than a skater thrown in a Golden Grahams ad, or Sprite, or Mountain Dew.”

Melanie Loveland at Daddies Board Shop in Portland, Oregon

“It X-Games coverage translated this year into kids wanting Tony Hawk’s stuff¿name recognition. I don’t know if the sales increase was significant, but it did affect the sales of anything having to do with Tony Hawk. And the Games held the interest of the kids’ parents, too¿it gave skateboarding validity.

“Real high interest all-around, though. Kids did come in the shop and comment on it the 900. I think 85 percent of people around here have the cable access to the shows. We’ve gotten a big kick out of seeing skateboarding being incorporated into the commercials¿like McDonald’s Tarzan. There’s a huge skateboarding influence right now in mainstream media, and I’m very happy with that. I see it as totally positive¿showing another side of skateboarders than others see, not ‘the dark side.’ And the DC ad was surprising! For the little guys whose parents don’t know what skating’s all about, it’s great. The more the merrier.”

Ed Zolat at Point Break in Houston, Texas

“I think the most important thing is that it perpetuates the sport of skateboarding, and along those lines, more exposure actually makes us more business. It’s the X-Games finals still the buzz¿not only with the skater kids, but with the moms and dads who never paid attention to how much talent and work goes into it. He’s Tony Hawk been a great ambassador to that sport ever since he’s been doing it.

“I think the overall effect of televised skateboarding events is going to be tremendous¿it’ll propel skateboarding into the public eye. Anytime something is brought to you in a respected medium, more attention is paid to it. That’s what’s going to happen to skateboarding.

“I think when you see guys like Bucky Lasek and Tony Hawk, who want to set a good example for the kids¿bring it as a healthy lifestyle into people’s home, it does skateboarding a great service. Over the years the sport itself has improved with better hardgoods, identifiable clothing, and better skateboarders. It’s been increasing since I started in this business around ’89.”

Matt Sickels at Milosport in Salt Lake City, Utah

“We didn’t really notice a rise in sales, but the regulars come in noticing the rise in coverage! As far as shoes or product sales, with Tony Hawk, he’s the man anyway, so it’s product that’s gonna go no matter what. For the younger generation who see it skate coverage on TV before they see videos, it’s different ere’s money involved and you can make a living at it, it’s more acceptable. We actually do a lot of ads on television for back to school and whatnot¿it’s a good medium for us.”

Justin Ryan at Subsect Skateboards in Des Moines, Iowa

“Yeah, I think we’ve gotten a lot more first-time skateboarders after they’ve seen that the X-Games. ESPN shows it as a sport instead of as a hooligan thing, and the parents hit on that¿it’s legitimate. When they see ESPN, ABC, and Mountain Dew getting behind skateboarding, it puts it in a different realm, like NFL football or NBA basketball. I think it’s better than having people see like a 151 video first; that shows a side of skateboarding, but maybe it’s better they see it as a competition instead. Then if the kids get into skateboarding and grow up in it, they’ll see the rest. I do think it’s kinda strange, though, that the street skaters at the X-Games may not be the best ones¿maybe there’s someone better who couldn’t make it to all the qualifiers.

“We definitely sold a lot of Tony Hawk boards that week after the 900 at the X-Games. We’re in the Midwest where skateboarding doesn’t have such a high profile¿just at the point where we’re thinking about getting a skatepark. It definitely exposed people to skateboarding who weren’t exposed to it before.

“I liked the DC ad, I’d rather see that than a skater thrown in a Golden Grahams ad, or Sprite, or Mountain Dew.”

Melanie Loveland at Daddies Board Shop in Portland, Oregon

“It X-Games coverage translated this year into kids wanting Tony Hawk’s stuff¿name recognition. I don’t know if the sales increase was significant, but it did affect the sales of anything having to do with Tony Hawk. And the Games held the interest of the kids’ parents, too¿it gave skateboarding validity.

“Real high interest all-around, though. Kids did come in the shop and comment on it the 900. I think 85 percent of people around here have the cable access to the shows. We’ve gotten a big kick out of seeing skateboarding being incorporated into the commercials¿like McDonald’s Tarzan. There’s a huge skateboarding influence right now in mainstream media, and I’m very happy with that. I see it as totally positive¿showing another side of skateboarders than others see, not ‘the dark side.’ And the DC ad was surprising! For the little guys whose parents don’t know what skating’s all about, it’s great. The more the merrier.”

Ed Zolat at Point Break in Houston, Texas

“I think the most important thing is that it perpetuates the sport of skateboarding, and along those lines, more exposure actually makes us more business. It’s the X-Games finals still the buzz¿not only with the skater kids, but with the moms and dads who never paid attention to how much talent and work goes into it. He’s Tony Hawk been a great ambassador to that sport ever since he’s been doing it.

“I think the overall effect of televised skateboarding events is going to be tremendous¿it’ll propel skateboarding into the public eye. Anytime something is brought to you in a respected medium, more attention is paid to it. That’s what’s going to happen to skateboarding.

“I think when you see guys like Bucky Lasek and Tony Hawk, who want to set a good example for the kids¿bring it as a healthy lifestyle into people’s home, it does skateboarding a great service. Over the years the sport itself has improved with better hardgoods, identifiable clothing, and better skateboarders. It’s been increasing since I started in this business around ’89.”

Matt Sickels at Milosport in Salt Lake City, Utah

“We didn’t really notice a rise in sales, but the regulars come in noticing the rise in coverage! As far as shoes or product sales, with Tony Hawk, he’s the man anyway, so it’s product that’s gonna go no matter what. For the younger generation who see it skate coverage on TV before they see videos, it’s different than for the older guys who have exposure through magazines and videos. I’d say most of the people around here have ESPN. I haven’t seen any of the X-Games in forever¿but because the kids see it, it must run after school in the afternoons or something.

“I haven’t decided yet whether it’s good exposure yet or not. Any exposure should be good, but I’ve heard a lot of people who are bummed with skateboarding ‘going mainstream.’ I think skaters really want to promote it the right way, so they’re bummed unless it’s done correctly. It sounds like DC is trying to do it the right way with that ad, but for the most part, skaters are going to be critical of that kind of viewing mainstream. Like if Hollywood released a mainstream skate movie¿it’s something you’d want to see, but you’d be really critical of it.

“Exposure is good for getting skateparks built and respect for actual ability. If we could promote it in a way that doesn’t make it ‘wild and crazy’¿using words like ‘radical’ and ‘extreme’ in MTV coverage, it would let skateboarding speak a lot more for itself.”

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

“We do get X-Games coverage, but to get that channel we have to go through a cable service that’s really expensive, so a lot of people don’t have it. But out here we have a different version of the X-Games, run by Sony PlayStation, I think¿it’s just a short morning-show version with five minutes of each sport.

“Coca Cola used skateboarding in an ad out here about three years ago with three local Sydney guys. Just lately Ed Templeton for G-Shock was the first skate ad I’ve ever seen on TV¿it was rad, it blew me away.

“So no, the coverage isn’t really adding up to any sales for us.

“Warped Tour comes in summertime¿the kids get a six- to ten-week holiday then. The festivals do increase the clothing and shoe sales¿the kids see what the skaters and musicians are wearing. But that doesn’t really make us board sales.”ent than for the older guys who have exposure through magazines and videos. I’d say most of the people around here have ESPN. I haven’t seen any of the X-Games in forever¿but because the kids see it, it must run after school in the afternoons or something.

“I haven’t decided yet whether it’s good exposure yet or not. Any exposure should be good, but I’ve heard a lot of people who are bummed with skateboarding ‘going mainstream.’ I think skaters really want to promote it the right way, so they’re bummed unless it’s done correctly. It sounds like DC is trying to do it the right way with that ad, but for the most part, skaters are going to be critical of that kind of viewing mainstream. Like if Hollywood released a mainstream skate movie¿it’s something you’d want to see, but you’d be really critical of it.

“Exposure is good for getting skateparks built and respect for actual ability. If we could promote it in a way that doesn’t make it ‘wild and crazy’¿using words like ‘radical’ and ‘extreme’ in MTV coverage, it would let skateboarding speak a lot more for itself.”

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

“We do get X-Games coverage, but to get that channel we have to go through a cable service that’s really expensive, so a lot of people don’t have it. But out here we have a different version of the X-Games, run by Sony PlayStation, I think¿it’s just a short morning-show version with five minutes of each sport.

“Coca Cola used skateboarding in an ad out here about three years ago with three local Sydney guys. Just lately Ed Templeton for G-Shock was the first skate ad I’ve ever seen on TV¿it was rad, it blew me away.

“So no, the coverage isn’t really adding up to any sales for us.

“Warped Tour comes in summertime¿the kids get a six- to ten-week holiday then. The festivals do increase the clothing and shoe sales¿the kids see what the skaters and musicians are wearing. But that doesn’t really make us board sales.”