“Bobsledding qualifiers, 2:30 p.m. Skating pairs, 4:00. Curling finals, 7:30.” Right now, as of production time for this issue, the Winter Olympics are in full swing. Who cares!

When I was a little kid, I adored the Olympic coverage because it meant my folks would be spellbound in front of the TV for hours while I ran freely through the neighborhood. So many years and so much lost innocence later, all I can see is the manipulation by the media looking for a heartwarming tale of some athlete’s triumph over adversity.

Recently it dawned on me-we don’t do that! The skateboarding industry and media capture real people right now: The players may fall in and out of the limelight many times over their careers, and each time we catch up with them, their stories more often than not are of the moment. How much better is that than gearing up for fleeting fame or colossal disappointment every four years, with some athletes only given one “Olympic” shot in a lifetime? Just reminding you that our culture is vastly superior to that of the mainstream world. We have our seasons-summer tours, trade shows, contests-and all is well.

Ten Shops, One Question operates under this premise: 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.

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

This issue’s question: How have your customers’ buying habits changed since September 11?

Per Friis at Street Machine in Copenhagen, Denmarkstreetmachine.dk

“We don’t do the big sales in January, it’s normally slow. I wouldn’t say our clients are affected, because our clients are quite young. But in Denmark overall, sales were down for September and October. It started going back up in November, and overall, retail business has been up twenty percent in December.

“I don’t think Danish people worried about war so much, but finances-loans, et cetera-what’s gonna happen financially. We’re only involved in the war with a few special forces. It’s not the same here as in the U.S. where it’s affecting people day to day. It’s out of the media and in the background, not in our daily news.

“We’re having terrible weather, and we’re still selling skateboards every day. We’re satisfied.”

Matt Roman at Coliseum Skateboard Superstore in Melrose, Massachusettscoliseumskate.com

“How has the nine-eleven tragedy affected us? In short, such as life, immensely. That is, for the few short weeks to follow, customers, neighbors, strangers, and friends all became a little closer. The world seemed to let up a bit, everyone was allowed a big breath. This time of great unity has since faded and people are back to their often fast-paced, centered selves. One’s memory just can’t stand the drain of time.

“We at the Coliseum closed its doors for the few days following the World Trade Center bombings. We were in the middle of building our new indoor skatepark, and that stopped as well.

“After a few days our doors opened, and skateboarders did just that. People were back to doing what they loved. To the people who surround and make up Coliseum, that is skateboarding. The Coliseum park, one like no other ever built, is near completion. Rudy has left office, and the UN is looking for 45-billion dollars to rebuild the country we just bombed. Life is crazy-Rudy for president.”

Mark Zitzer at Phase II in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

“Right now, it’s definitely slowing down, but that’s just the time of year. September eleventh did not change our buying patterns at all. We didn’t notice a slowdown. It’s normally a little slow right before the holiday season.

“This holiday we sold a lot of hardgoods. And the one trend ‘ve noticed is that the average age of our customer has gone down. So many young kids are interested in the Tony Hawk game, ESPN coverage. It was really noticeable this holiday.

“Over Christmas the majority of our customers are moms and dads, and I don’t think politics affected their buying habits. The fall of the stock market may have affected the economy overall, big department stores, but we’re a specialty store, and it really doesn’t affect us.”

Thomas Taylor at Stratosphere in Atlanta, Georgiastratos-atl.com

“Probably our least-selling Christmas ever. It seemed like it dropped a bit (after September 11), people weren’t buying as much. And people were using more credit cards than cash. I’m wondering if it really affects youths’ buying patterns. There’s no Armageddon in their world. They just keep buying, although they may not be getting as much from whoever gives them their money. But let’s just say they didn’t slow down in what they wanted to buy!

“We’re in the city-it’s just different in the suburbs, where there’re more kids. For some reason, suburban kids have more drive to skateboard because they’re more bored! Flat out we don’t have as many kids. I don’t know of the effect (of September 11)-I think we may be feeling other factors. There are now other shops in the area, different types of competition.”

Luis Lizo at SK8 Skates in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

“It was pretty normal (after September 11)-it was back-to-school, so we were still selling a lot of boards. Kids were still getting their completes together. It slowed down a bit, but at the same time we had a couple shops open up nearby. They’re not really taking away from our hardgoods business, though, which is our main thing.

“Holiday sales dropped a little bit, but I don’t now if that was for other reasons. Shoppers started early-like mid November-but then they slowed down a little early, too. Usually this time of year people would be in here cashing in their gift certificates, but it’s been a bit slow. The worst we thought was that it (the WTC attack) would start a recession, but we didn’t do as badly as we thought.”

Jeff Reeves at Pulse Board Shop in Tyler, Texas

“Well, the month of September to the end of November was actually pretty slow as far as sales were concerned, and the sales I had weren’t normal-fewer people per week. As soon as people got into the Christmas spirit-the first of December-it picked up. Since then it’s been about normal. I think people didn’t know if they should spend money when the stock market went down.

“I was sick (September 11)! When I woke up, I started getting phone calls, ‘Have you seen what’s happening?’ It was so unreal, it blew me away. I was depressed for a while! So I understand. A lot of the kids (customers) understood what was going on. That whole three months was kind of a blur.

“Our Christmas sales were actually higher than last year. People were fighting for stuff the week before Christmas and literally shopping up to the last minute. And after, too. That’s fine with me.”

Matt Loftin at Brothers Boards in Denver, Colorado

“Um, actually for us, the only time it affected us was immediately following the attack. Since then we haven’t noticed any slowdown at all! We have sold a lot more flag-theme and ‘Americana’ stuff in skateboarding. I think Americans have rallied around the skateboarding industry. It may have even increased a little bit because it’s a good distraction.

“The attack affected our snow side more. We were amazed at how well skateboards have sold this winter. It hasn’t affected skateboarding-it’s in its own little world – until a plane flies into a skateboard distributor or something!”

Rob Aragon at Exit Real World in Portland, Oregonexitrealworld.com

“We’re still new (two years old), so we’re still establishing a customer base. The recession/September eleventh hasn’t really affected us at all. Skateboarders still need skateboards. Burnside is nearby, and another shop in town is opening an indoor park-hopefully that’ll go through soon. We always joke that all the indoor skateparks are in California, and not where you really need them!

“Skate biz does taper off a little in winter just because we’re in the Northwest and it rains so much. But it was nothing more than normal.”

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

“Um, I don’t think it changed my sales at all. September’s a bit of a slow month as it is. Some people came in and shopped more to show loyalty and help us out. Wait, let me think back-it did affect us a little bit. We’re in a higher-end community, so a lot of people here have investments that shot down after the eleventh. Our mail order stayed about the same-not up, but not down.

“Our sales are up a tad overall-fifteen percent from last year. During Christmas it’s standard-the last ten days before are always super busy.”

Takeya Matsumoto at Stormy in Tokyo, Japan(translation by Stormy’s Miki Nozue)stormy.co.jp

“I believe that everyone-no matter the nationality, the color of skin, or the religion-was so shocked and terrified to hear the news (of the) attack in New York September eleventh. I surely hope such a tragedy will never happen again.

“After the attack, in Japan, of course, there’re many delays in delivering goods and wares from the U.S.A., and cancellations for visiting Japan by famous pro skateboard and snowboard riders living in the U.S.A. So we had some difficulty at the start of fall/winter season until October.

“The differences from previous years are, number one, about skateboard goods: this year customers are more likely to buy only a part of skateboard gear, such as purchasing only wheels, decks, or trucks instead of purchasing a complete skateboard set that sold very good in the previous year.

“Number two, about skateboard wear: skateboard-brand wear sold as much as like every year, but it seemed that more customers who don’t skate or know anything about skateboarding are purchasing skateboard-brand wear; maybe more people have started to categorize skateboard wear as so-called ‘street wear.’

“Total amount of sales last year was pretty good in Stormy. However, as you know, Japan is under a business depression and bad influences. I guess we are going to have some difficulty selling all the goods like every year.”ed skateboards. Burnside is nearby, and another shop in town is opening an indoor park-hopefully that’ll go through soon. We always joke that all the indoor skateparks are in California, and not where you really need them!

“Skate biz does taper off a little in winter just because we’re in the Northwest and it rains so much. But it was nothing more than normal.”

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

“Um, I don’t think it changed my sales at all. September’s a bit of a slow month as it is. Some people came in and shopped more to show loyalty and help us out. Wait, let me think back-it did affect us a little bit. We’re in a higher-end community, so a lot of people here have investments that shot down after the eleventh. Our mail order stayed about the same-not up, but not down.

“Our sales are up a tad overall-fifteen percent from last year. During Christmas it’s standard-the last ten days before are always super busy.”

Takeya Matsumoto at Stormy in Tokyo, Japan(translation by Stormy’s Miki Nozue)stormy.co.jp

“I believe that everyone-no matter the nationality, the color of skin, or the religion-was so shocked and terrified to hear the news (of the) attack in New York September eleventh. I surely hope such a tragedy will never happen again.

“After the attack, in Japan, of course, there’re many delays in delivering goods and wares from the U.S.A., and cancellations for visiting Japan by famous pro skateboard and snowboard riders living in the U.S.A. So we had some difficulty at the start of fall/winter season until October.

“The differences from previous years are, number one, about skateboard goods: this year customers are more likely to buy only a part of skateboard gear, such as purchasing only wheels, decks, or trucks instead of purchasing a complete skateboard set that sold very good in the previous year.

“Number two, about skateboard wear: skateboard-brand wear sold as much as like every year, but it seemed that more customers who don’t skate or know anything about skateboarding are purchasing skateboard-brand wear; maybe more people have started to categorize skateboard wear as so-called ‘street wear.’

“Total amount of sales last year was pretty good in Stormy. However, as you know, Japan is under a business depression and bad influences. I guess we are going to have some difficulty selling all the goods like every year.”