It’s a phrase you hear over and over again. “Support your local skateshop”. The idea seems simple enough but if you look across the country, skateshops are dropping out like flies. There are a few simple reasons I can think of as to why one can’t seem to stay open.
Is it logical that a skateshop can thrive in every American city with a population of more than 100,000 people? You’d certainly think there should be at least 50 skaters in a town that size. I’m not sure what the metrics say but let’s delve into the issues at hand. Let’s examine what’s going on here and see if we can band together as skaters and truly support our local shops.
Let’s just go ahead and talk about the elephant in the room. The internet. I’m pretty certain that most of the problems associated with any locally based business can be attributed to the internet. Just like video killed the radio star, the internet has absolutely destroyed local businesses. I might also add that there has been a resurgence in supporting local going on in urban areas across America.
Shopping local has been gaining steam in cities in the United States in the last couple years. It’s the hipster thing to do no doubt but let’s face it. Online shopping is usually so much easier.
Homegrown skateshops simply can’t carry all of the inventory in store that an online shop can display. The online store actually doesn’t even have to have that particular item in their inventory at all. They simply sell it on their website and then a third party usually takes care of the rest. The packaging and shipping may come from some warehouse halfway across the country or maybe even the world. Hello China!
Have you looked at all of the skateboarding companies out there today? It’s a complete zoo and there’s no way to carry everything to suite everyone out there looking for a new deck or setup.
Retail space is expensive. How many pieces of plywood do you have to sell in order to just pay the rent and keep the lights on? A two thousand dollar a month space would have to sell roughly 100 skate decks JUST TO PAY THE RENT that month. Then there’s next month…and the next. See where I’m going here?
In a city the size of Lexington, KY I’d say there are roughly 100 kids that actively skateboard. That may be a gross estimation but the town has two excellent skateparks and there is usually a crowd at both. You get your core group of about 25 kids and adults that frequent the place and then the other straggling crew of say 25 more that come as often as they can hitch a ride from their parents or friends. Then I’d say maybe there’s 50 others skittered throughout the metro area that kick around from time to time.
So in a city of 350,000 I can honestly say that there may be a core of about 50 kids who would even step foot into a skateshop to buy something. The shop has to sell a whole lot of goods to that select group of people to even consider make any sort of profit.
I don’t know what the solution is for the local skateshop. It’s a really sad reality but obviously the business model in general has to morph in order for the local skateshop to survive in mid town America.