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How to Run a Skate Shop - Getting and Keeping Customers and Shop Tips
The one thing that you always need to remember about running a skate shop is that each customer is valuable. A skate shop is not like a Walmart, where customers may not expect individual attention. You have to make sure, whenever possible, that every single customer who walks out of your skate shop leaves with a smile on their face. There is a very limited crowd, even in a big city, that will even walk into a skate shop. Because your customer base is very limited consider market research and advertising to gain repeat customers.
Although there is a limited customer base, skate shops also have one distinct advantage, little competition. The majority of cities don't even have skate shops, so the chances of there being more than one skate shop in your city is rare. If a skateboarder needs a new board, trucks, bearings, or wheels, they will likely come to your shop. Check out some of the following tips on how to run a skate shop:
- Have a passion for skateboarding - If you don't possess that passion and you are opening the skate shop just to make money, you may not put forth your best effort or sales techniques. The majority of skateboarders have a deep interest for skateboarding, and they have even coined the phrase "skate or die." Thus, if you have a passion for skateboarding, you will be able to connect with customers, speak their lingo, and make sales.
- Learn how to skateboard - You don't have to be a pro, but it wouldn't hurt to at least learn how to ollie (an airborne jump that is considered the basis for all skateboarding tricks). The base of this concept goes back to the previous point, have a passion for skateboarding.
- Carry clothes and apparel - The majority of skateboarders are heavy into skateboard clothing lines as well. You don't see too many skaters rolling around with preppy or fashion-type shirts so carry a line of shirts skateboarders seek. Shoes and hats are equally important. Hats carry the same concept as clothes, but shoes are essential for skateboarding. Look for the brands DC, Zero, Element, Spitfire, and more.
- Have a clean, organized shop - Display the skateboard decks on the wall. This is the absolute best way for customers to browse your inventory without having to ask you to see a specific deck. Keep the shop clean at all times. Remember, your customer base is largely populated by tweens, teens, and young adults. Some kids will come in with their parents and a clean, pleasant, and professional environment gains favor points for that mom or dad that is looking to buy their son or daughter a skateboard.
- Host skate contests - As much as it shouldn't be, skateboarding is still looked down upon in many cities. Business don't like kids skating around on their property and law enforcement tend to enforce this rule when asked. A skating contest near or around your shop gives kids a place to chill. If they win, why not give them a free skateboard, t-shirt or new wheels? This is a budget-friendly way to reward your customers. Alternatively, if you have the money, you can open up a skatepark near your shop. This can be a very profitable business move.
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How to Run a Skate Shop - The Business Part
Initially, a skate shop does not have a very elaborate business model. Basically, you need to be able to pay rent, utilities, buy inventory, and make money. Keep track of your revenues, costs, and expenses to stay organized and profitable. Remember, with a skate shop, you control the prices of the items you sell. Find skateboard part wholesalers that offer discounted items and set your prices to make money. As stated above, there is little to no competition for skate shops, giving you more market control.
As your business grows, consider expanding. If you don't have the cash, you can apply for business funding based on past performance. Use networking tools to advertise and attend industry trade shows to gain even more ideas for your shop. If your shop is a hit, ask for advice on small business success by obtaining free help from the SCORE, a division of the Small Business Administration to help you succeed.
Learning how to run a skate shop may be uncomplicated at first, but as you grow, seek the advice you need to stay profitable and make a name for yourself in the world of skateboarding.