Grassroots Research And Development

Imagine if Black Label offered a signature Anthony “Ragdoll” Scalamare necktie. Or if War Effort came out with signature Brian Young floor lamps. What if Flip had a signature Andrew Gordon toolbox?

Considering the broad-based growth of interest in skateboarding, these thoughts could one day become a reality.

Anyone who’s flipped through the pages of most major skateboard catalogs over the past year or so–or anyone who’s attended a recent trade show–has likely been unable to help but notice that accessories (in the broadest sense of the word) are “all the rage” in skateboarding today. From Black Label’s Swiss Army knife to Element’s incense holder and Independent’s license-plate frame, the examples go on and on. A number of companies, including Spitfire, offer Zippo lighters. Virtually everyone offers a studded belt. And these items are just the tip of the accessory-berg.

So when this issue of SKATE Biz rolled around, I figured what better way to promote accessories than at the grassroots level by a group of sponsored skateboarders.

I mean, anyone who lives in the modern Western world–moreover, in the United States Of America–knows there’s no better place to find accessories than at a garage sale. Culturally, garage sales are the pinnacle of thrift, bargains, and well, creativity.

So a date was set to go garage-sale shopping for accessories with a group of prominent skateboarders–some established trendsetters and fans of accessories, and others just keen kids. I invited fourteen guys on this accessories research-and-development mission, hoping and expecting at least half of them to show up. As is the nature of skateboarding and skateboarders, making plans rarely works, especially when the plan is to meet at eight o’clock on a Saturday morning (prime garage-sale season).

Invites were sent to a gripload of skateboarders. Namely Bill Weiss, Josh Beagle, Justin Roy, Charlie Thomas, Richie Belton, Kristian Svitak, Brian Young, Harold Daltin, Anthony “Ragdoll” Scalamare, Adelmo Jr., Andrew Gordon, Kevin Staab, James Atkin, and Gautam Sahi, a 27-year-old up-and-coming am from Lafayette, Louisiana who rides for Killing Machine Hardware, 35 mm, and Brown Beanies. Weiss and Svitak couldn’t accept the invite due to previous commitments. Everyone else gave me the, “Yeah, cool.” Beagle even pinkie-swore he’d make it but canceled the night before–apparently upon realizing he would have to leave the vicinity of San Diego. Justin told Charlie to tell me that he didn’t want to wake up at seven in the morning. I called Richie the night before to remind him to show up in the morning, but he had already gone out. So Richie’s mom and I had a nice little giggle over the phone about the probability of Richie showing up to a coffee shop at 8:00 a.m. He didn’t. And Charlie slept through the whole thing.

So in the end, we had a crew of eight guys. Perfect.

The objective? To take these skateboarders on a research mission to a slew of Encinitas, California garage sales to shop for goods they believe may redefine the direction of accessories in skateboarding.

We had a solid accessories R&D crew comprised of the eight people who showed up.

Miki Vuckovich arrived to shoot the photos, and I offered generous amounts of support (“Yes, that jacket looks great on you.”), and even direction (“Guys, we’re supposed to be looking for accessories, not a new couch for your living room.”).

So once everyone had their nonfat lattes and decaf triple-shot mochas, as well as their shopping allowances of twenty bucks each, we were on the road. We hit up twelve garage sales in four hours. That’s three an hour, including driving time.

The purchases made were, well, interesting. Brian scored a floor lamp at the first garage sale, where James bought a rather stylish pair of black leather boots, and Staab picked up some wonderful baby toys.

At the next sale, Ragdoll found the perfect purple plastic scooter, little Andrew found a nice hammer, and Harold found a television set for five bucks, which the guys later skated (Andrew crooked grinded it, and James threw out a fastplant on it).

The mission continued and so did the bargains! Ragdoll and James got matching Dukes Of Hazard watches for $4.99 each, not to mention the pink pseudo-psychadelic hanging lamp that Ragdoll picked up for only a dollar. Adelmo bought many, many blankets. Incredibly stoked at the end of the day after counting his six blankets, he exclaimed: “Now we have more blankets for the Brazilians at our home.” He also bought two ice-cube trays. Gautam bought a few pairs of women’s shoes–especially noteworthy were the blue faux-crocodile slip-on pumps that he wore to skate the television set.

Our mission was accomplished. This group of skateboarders had hooked up stuff they didn’t even know they needed, like kids going into a skate shop for a board and walking out with a new wallet and skate tool. “It’s great,” says Ragdoll when asked about the accessorization of skateboarding. “I’m all about accessories.”

So much can be said about garage sales. They offer great bargains and a certain insight into people’s minds–both the sellers’ and the buyers’. In most countries, people take their old stuff to the marketplace, but in the U.S. they invite strangers right into their homes to haggle over nickels and dimes.

Shopping, bargains, consumption, and moreover, accessories–it’s all so wonderfully American.