Words by Ryan the Longboarder
The community, in my opinion, is one of the most.. if not THE most important entity that propels the scene forward. More than innovation in board design, more than new wheels and urethane formulas, more than lowered prices and new companies coming up with new technologies, more than races and the prize money that people profit off of.
I think a community of riders is single-handedly one of the few engines that keeps the scene running and healthy; and local shops and stores are at the center of these communities.
My city doesn’t have the greatest scene. It’s nowhere near the size of the Vancouver scene or NCDH (North Carolina Downhill), but we have had a lot of influential people come through: G-mack, Alex Hannigan, Riley Harris, Mischo Erban, among many, many others. How did we, such a small community, pump out so many sponsored riders?
The answer is that we have an incredibly supportive community. There is only one central boardshop in our city. This board shop holds weekly clinics, finances every semi-decent race, gives out discounts and stocks the best stuff and employs the best people. Or at least, they used to.
This used to motivate people and make them confident. People would pick up their first longboard endlessly. New people would stream through that store’s doors, many times having more than 10 people in it at the same time. Nowadays, we barely get more than 1 person in there at any time of the day. Not many people come to the clinics anymore. Fact is, our scene used to be a lot more lively.
I was there while this all happened. And I can tell you that all of this was caused by online shopping. Big brand online retailers such as Amazon and Ebay, sometimes even bulk buyers like Costco these days are stocking longboards. Not even good ones, but I’ll explain that another day. These big brand retailers are saturating the market with cheaper $80, alternative longboards that people pick up more readily and more easily than people go and buy a good setup for $190.
This is single-handedly destroying the skateboard market. Actual brick and mortar stores are going out of business everywhere. The ones that are left have boomed, and many are just shells of what they used to be capable of when skateboards were to be bought at a longboard store, not at a big-name online retailer.
The fact that so much money is being diverted away from the hands of active skate stores is also diverting money away from the skate scene. For example, my local store has long stopped giving proper sponsorships to riders, mostly because they can’t afford it. They only get a 20% discount off of stuff, they don’t get paid to go to events or get paid to review new things. The shop doesn’t support our local outlaw races anymore either. This is a pandemic that is pretty visible in all corners of the skate scene nowadays, apart from a few scenes where the shops really thrive.
There are things that you, as a rider and a skater can do to support your local skate scene.
Always, always try to buy from your local shop. Whether it be bushings, a new helmet, or some obscure board that you’ve wanted for a year and a half, your local shop probably has the connections to get it for cheaper or at least the same price that you can. All you have to do is ask them and wait. For example, I wanted a full-face helmet and they didn’t have stock. I went into the store and I asked them if maybe they could get one from distribution, and they said that they would order me one, just wait a week. And a week later, I had a brand new fullface helmet for less than I would have paid if I had shipped it from a big-name retailer.
Also, go to the events that your local shop holds! There may be a small entrance fee, but these entrance fees all go towards holding more events and giving out prizes to the winners! For example, there was a sponsored race that I went to a few months ago. There was a 5 dollar entrance fee, but it turns out, all the money was pooled and it went towards renting a garage (a carpark for UK readers) for a garage race the following month.
Truth is, skate shops only want to further their local skate community, and so do most skaters. However, every dream needs funding and with the increase of people who don’t support their local communities, it’s definitely getting harder.
Now, you might say, why do we need the community? Can’t we make progress without having the support of shops and stores?
Well, not really. The shops are the ones who distribute new technology, make them accessible to more people, and make those people join the sport. I never would have gotten into the sport if there had not been a board shop that explained the basics of building a board to me. That first complete would have been very impossible for me, and it goes for many others as well. Many of the people who we see with new longboards are usually fresh out of the local skate shop. Nobody really thinks to buy one before they see one.
So, whether you are a new rider or an experienced one, I beg of you to remember your local shops and community in your journey to progress. It is highly important towards the survival of the sport.
See a picture of the Magneto Drop through below, one of my fave longboards
WEAR A HELMET. Ryan the Longboarder, Magneto Longboards Team