Skateboarding passion becomes a business

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The Washington Post
By: Kristi Tousignant
October 21, 2010

Two Poolesville teen skateboarders are catching more than just big air in their final year of high school.

Sid Egly and Rudy Martin, both 17, went from skateboarding fiends to entrepreneurs in May when they opened the Skate Shack, a skateboard merchandise store on Fisher Avenue in Poolesville.

Dreams of owning their own skate shop are about as old as the boys' friendship. They have known each other so long, they can't even remember how they met -- although their mothers say it was during elementary school. They have talked about opening a skateboarding shop since they were in sixth grade, Sid said.

The friends recently sat casually, but proudly, in the space they created. Hunched in the same position, they wore almost identical shoes and finished each other's sentences as they talked about merchandise, future plans and goals.

The boys started skateboarding their first year at Poolesville High School. They would skate for hours after school along curbs and sidewalks, racing through the small, rural town.

Although they skated less as they got older, their skate shop dream never faded. The idea went from playground planning to retail reality this spring.

Sid's mother, Stephanie Egly, owns Stephanie's Secret Garden flower shop, which is next to the Skate Shack. Rudy's mother, Nancy Martin, works in the flower shop. The women used to run the flower shop out of the space the Skate Shack occupies. In May, the women moved to a bigger space next door, and the boys moved into the room their moms vacated. Both stores rent from the same landlord.

"This place opened up, and it just seemed like the logical thing to do," Rudy said.

Soon the tiny room's flower arrangements and blooming fragrance were replaced by skateboard decks and the teenage scent of AXE deodorant spray. The boys painted the walls bright yellow and orange and the door green, spotted with a few accidental footprints from the painting process. The first dollar the shop made hangs next to the door.

Once they had the right space, the boys needed funding. Their parents fronted them about $3,500 to start the business, and the boys are slowly paying them back.

"I think this is a really good experience for the two of them at their age in a small town like this," Martin said.

The boys also got some business advice from their parents: Their moms taught them how to do inventory and price merchandise.

"They came up with some really good ideas, and we are just kind of the steering committee," Martin said.

The boys started a Facebook group and handed out fliers, even as far away as Frederick and Ocean City, but news of the skate shop mostly spread through word of mouth around school.

The shop opened just before a new skate park opened on Wootton Avenue in July. The park has boosted business, Sid said.

The shop sells all kinds of skateboarding gear. The biggest-selling items are axles, wheels and skateboard trucks. The boys created personalized T-shirts and hats with the Skate Shack logo on them that are sold next to T-shirts branded with the logos of famous skateboarding companies.

Sid also paints customized skateboarding decks -- the actual board part of the skateboard. The store sells blank, wooden decks that he will paint to order with special skateboard paint. Usually customers come in with an idea, or a picture of what they want, and Sid will re-create it in about two days. He paints a couple of boards a month, Sid said. The custom boards cost $40. Others that Sid paints with his own designs cost $30.

On a good day, the shop gets 10 customers, and on a normal day two or three people come in, Sid said.

The boys plan to keep the shop open through the winter but said they are nervous about sales in the colder months. Theirs is the only skateboarding shop in Poolesville.

"It's definitely a goal," Rudy said. "If we gave up on a goal, it would be a bummer."

The boys are not profiting off of the business yet, as they are paying back the loan from their parents. Rudy said the two hope to be out of debt by the end of their first year.

Sid and Rudy are the only people who work in the shop.

Next year, the boys will go to college. Rudy hopes to go to Towson University or Salisbury University to study business. Sid wants to study soundboard engineering, because music is his other passion. They plan to keep the shop running in their absence. They said they will come back on some weekends and hire employees to run the shop.

"It's kind of a responsibility," Sid said. "And we definitely want to pay back our parents."

Skate Shack, in the back of 19900 Fisher Ave., in Poolesville, is open from 1 to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays.

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This page contains a single entry by CFED published on October 21, 2010 4:04 PM.

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