How to Start a Small Skate Shop Business

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Some skate shops are very successful, while others go out of business within a few months. Reasons for failure include bad locations, the wrong inventory for local tastes, too much money spent establishing the shop--and not enough money held aside to pay for at least six months of operating expenses. A little research into what local skaters want and can't find, plus some careful and realistic planning, can make the difference that leads to years of successful operations.

Plan Your Skate Shop Business

Plan your business in detail, listing what brand-name boards, trucks, wheels, grip tape or grip coating you will carry, and whether you will also sell clothing, shoes, safety gear, accessories and repair services.

Successful marketing to the skate crowd requires a savvy noncommercial approach, so plan your marketing around events, pro demonstrations and classes that will provide your customers with a way to learn how to do tricks and avoid injuries. Consider locating near a skate park and providing simple snacks and a place for local kids to hang out.

Write your business plan, including a detailed financial section that lists your start-up inventory costs, store rental and utilities, insurance, advertising and marketing costs, employees, and any services you will need, such as bookkeeping and billing, legal, packaging and delivery.

Take your business plan to your local SBA office for review and advice on how to work with a bank or finance company to obtain inventory financing.

Negotiate with your vendors for inventory financing or inventory on consignment. Take advantage of all opportunities to conserve cash or lower the cost of your inventory. Many sports equipment manufacturers supply racks, posters and handouts for free to shops that order a certain amount of products or that host demonstrations and skill-building clinics.

Tips & Warnings

  • The skate culture favors a rebel image, so don't consider a large showroom in a popular mall--instead, seek out a location near schools or on the way to skate parks. Keep current on what the local skateboarders want to buy, so focus on creating a comfortable authentic-feeling atmosphere that encourages your customers to hang around and talk about gear and technique. You will also need a website where you can have an events calendar, your product catalog for online orders and an online community where your customers can chat and send pictures of themselves doing tricks.
  • Some skate shops install ramps and half-pipes. While these are attracting young customers, the shops will run a big risk if someone is injured while using their equipment or facilities. If you are considering putting in ramps, consult a knowledgeable attorney and obtain plenty of liability insurance. You may find that the expense of providing a place for your customers to test out equipment does not translate into additional revenues. That is why locating near a skate park and providing free soft drinks and snacks might be a better idea than installing ramps in your store.

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