Brian Peech photo
“We are not just selling skateboards;
we are selling skateboarding.”
Location: Squamish, B.C.
Size: 1,200 sq. ft.
Years in business: 7
Years as owner: 7
Years skating: 28
What are the advantages of being a niche skateshop?
It’s about the customer knowing when they walk in my store, they know it’s a place that is dedicated to skateboarding, and it feels better for my skate customers to support that.
How about the negative side of being a skate-specific store?
It’s really easy to lose out on a lot of different categories that your average Joe assumes you carry. People come in and think you should be carrying the same shit they can find at big sports stores.
How do you and your store contribute to the local skate scene and help it grow?
We like to get involved with what the local skaters are doing. There have been a lot of DIY projects going on around here, and we’ve been a big part of them. Ultimately, the more spots we create, the more accessible it’ll be to kids.
How do you differentiate yourself from the mall or big-box stores that may offer similar products?
When you look at shops like mine, Antisocial or BLVD, we are doing some real-life things to support skateboarding in our regions: demos, park-building projects, contests and events. We are not just selling skateboards, we are selling skateboarding.
“A lot of brands try to soften the blow of mass penetration by offering us limited this, limited that or quick-strike shit. People don’t want any of that stuff, man. We’re not gangsters; we just want good shit.”
Has your customer changed over the years?
Essentially, skateboarders will always be skateboarders, and what they want and how they shop will not really change too much. But for new kids getting into it, there is just too much stuff; it can be overwhelming. The guys that know what’s up are way more focused and way more brand loyal to specific products, and the new kids coming in don’t have as much mentoring, because there just aren’t enough good skateshops to help guide them.
What is the biggest issue that affects sales?
My mouth [laughs]. But seriously, it’s price. You can order shit online, plus I’ve got Zumies and West 49 as my competition in North Vancouver. Also, people just don’t have as much disposable income anymore, and my property tax and my rent keep going up.
How can the vendors and distributors help your business?
I honestly don’t think there is really anything the distributors can do to solve the problems we have with things like duties and tariffs that jack up the prices in Canada. Distributors can’t control people shopping online in the U.S. One thing I would like to see is a fair playing field when it comes to price and some people receiving products direct. Some of these mall stores, because of buying power, can bypass the distribution channels, which gives them better margins. That makes it hard for us little guys for sure.
No matter what I create in my retail environment, if a kid finds a board way cheaper at the mall, he’s going to buy it at the mall. A lot of brands try to soften the blow of mass penetration by offering us limited this, limited that or quick-strike shit. People don’t want any of that stuff, man. We’re not gangsters, we just want good shit.
“I don’t think it’s in a slump at all; it’s just very saturated….we are all getting flooded with shit we don’t need. So many big-box stores are carrying skate shit, and so many new stores are opening up. I actually think skateboarding is the strongest it’s ever been.”
What are your thoughts on some non-endemic brands finding a solid place within skateboarding?
I don’t carry any of them. There are so many brands that have done great things for skateboarding for so long—these are the brands I want to support. These bigger brands come in, they don’t need my money. They make all their money from hockey, basketball and soccer. Skateboard brands only make money from skateboarding. I want to support skateboarding.
What will the skateboard retail landscape look like in five to 10 years?
It’s going to get better and better. These big brands that have invested in skateboarding will start to realize that there are no big bucks to be made and they’ll pull out. It’ll stabilize and rebuild. Hopefully a lot of these new kids getting into skating will stick with it and we’ll have a whole new generation of skaters. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again.
Is the skate industry in a slump?
No, I don’t think it’s in a slump at all; it’s just very saturated. There are a lot of brands coming into skating, and there is so much money out there now. Everybody thinks skateboarding is so hot right now, and we are all getting flooded with shit we don’t need. So many big-box stores are carrying skate shit, and so many new stores are opening up. I actually think skateboarding is the strongest it’s ever been.