When this Coronavirus / Covid-19 first hit, we’re sure most skaters’ first thought was, “Spots will be never be more open!” But as this thing extended into weeks, and our beloved skateshops and businesses are being forced to close down, we’re seeing our friends struggle, hardgoods may slow down shipping or cease all together. Security guards still seem to be working at a lot of businesses. Will the footage machine grind to a halt with fewer videos coming out? Will selfie clips at home fill the void? We tried to poll a cross-section of the skate industry to see how everyone is getting through it. We’re all in this together. Support your local skateshop.
Steve Caballero | Vista, CA
Are you still going out skating?
Since we’ve been asked to stay home, I have not left the house and if I have it’s been to buy food and groceries.
How are you passing the time?
Well when the kids are with me, we’ve been playing games, watching TV, doing artwork and cooking homemade meals and skating in the backyard. Since I got a new mini ramp built, it’s just been sessions in the backyard on the Panda Ramp.
Do you believe it’s as bad as the news is saying?
I believe it can get worse if we don’t take precautions and just chill for a bit ’til this virus passes through, but with anything, it’s easy for some to overreact and cause havoc and frustration among us all.
How long being quarantined to your house until you start to feel stir crazy?
I’m not sure, but I have a fun home so we’re good here and have enough to entertain one another, but I’m not gonna lie, I do miss my friends and family and wish I could hang and visit with them.
How are other skaters you know handling this?
I can’t speak for others, but I’m sure because they’re skateboarders, they’ll find new ways to entertain themselves and create new ways to have fun and enjoy our current situation—I have hope.
Paul Zitzer | Skatepark Of Tampa
Have you shut down to only online orders for the shop and no one in the skatepark?
Correct, we are doing online orders still, but the shop and the park are both closed to the public for the time being.
How has the online business been since this outbreak? Do you see an uptick? Will it be enough to keep you guys going for the next couple of weeks or months?
Online sales have been steady and strong, thankfully. We are seeing an increase in order volume each day, with no sign of slow down, which will help to keep the lights on here at SPoT.
Are all the supply chains still going strong for all the products? Have any stopped all together?
Several vendors have temporarily ceased operations, but a couple of distributors are still up and running.
How many people are working at the shop while this goes on? And how long before you feel the need to just keep everyone home?
We have five full time employees running our online department currently. As long as online orders continue to roll in, we will be operating.
Any positive outlook on this?
This has been tough for everyone in the country and the whole world and we’re just going to keep doing everything we can to do what we always do, and that’s to DELIVER SKATEBOARDING. The positive is that skaters are the best people in the world and we get way more back from the skate community than we’re ever able to give, so wherever skateboarding is concerned, we’re always optimistic about the future. Stay safe out there everyone.
Ben Colen | Photographer | Los Angeles, CA
You still going out shooting?
So far, I haven’t been out shooting at all. I went skating near some friends’ the other day. I figure if this thing stretches out I’ll end up out shooting (longlens), I think you can do it in a way that isn’t irresponsible.
Has it already affected your income being a freelance photographer?
I make most of my income from jobs, so this has immediately affected my income. I had my next job postponed indefinitely and don’t expect any to start happening again soon which is pretty scary. I have some random skate photos stocked up, but I don’t know how many of those will get used right now.
How are others you know handling it?
So far, I feel like some people are still out filming and shooting, but the majority of people I know are doing more self-quarantine type stuff, but I think people will get antsy and get back to it sooner than later.
Sean Kelling | Rose Street Skateshop | Encinitas, CA
How is it affecting your shop and your business?
As a new skateshop (four months old) and prior to Covid-19, we were having some great momentum in building our presence within the community slowly growing business and awareness. We were confident in the work we were doing to grow Rose Street into the shop we’ve envisioned. We couldn’t be any happier on the support the community has brought us. We’re stoked on the path we were on and very excited for this coming year.
That said, four months in and we’re still trying to get up on our own two feet; this will be a real test to ours and everyone’s business. We envisioned Rose Street as a space for the community and now we need to shift everything online. Its been stressful for Fay and I to figure out how we are going to survive as a business, while we juggle everything else that’s changed like figuring out how to homeschool our two kids.
All we can do is try our best: We’ve been talking to other shops to see how they’re handling things, hoping our landlord will help out with some type of rent abatement/assistance, and that there will be substantial state/federal relief assistance for small businesses. Hopefully the community will still support and we can make it through these rough months or however long its gonna take.
Are you making private appointments?
NO. The last day we shut down (March 20) I still had customers coming to the door. Then Fay’s parents showed up—that drew the line for me when I had loved ones that are susceptible to COVID 19 stop by. I was attracting the public to leave their homes when we were all instructed not to. As stressful as it is trying to keep our business afloat, it’s not worth it to endanger peoples’ lives. So we shut down to regroup and figure out our online business.
Are people ordering online?
Not yet. But we’re moving all of our hard goods online with free shipping to California and free shipping over $75 domestically. We want to be contact-free to aid in the help of slowing this thing down and at the same time supporting our community with their skateboarding needs.
What’s going on with the scene?
The scene needs to stay home, stay out of the skateparks, and buckle down. Going out and hanging with your friends because you think you are “healthy” or believe that “I don’t have it” is going to prolong slowing down this beast that is COVID 19. SO PLEASE DO YOUR PART, PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING. WASH YOUR HANDS.
HOWEVER**** We love seeing the driveway/backyard clips doing their thing SOLO. Keep doing your thing and post those clips.
Are there any positives to this?
I’ve been able to spend more time with my daughters. Connect with people I haven’t talked to in a bit. Learning how to de-stress, learning how to adapt. Channel my anger/frustrations into positivity. Hopefully this pandemic leads into the change our country desperately needs.
PMA PMA PMA PMA – ROSE STREET CREW
Chris Larue | Lurkville pro and Pacific Drive employee | San Diego, CA
As far as the shop goes, we only have Pac Drive product on our website. So we can’t afford to turn the faucet off and close the doors. We are making appointments to make sure our skate scene can still get their skate needs. From a business standpoint, I can’t see anything positive in this. From a skateboarder’s standpoint the spots are open! It’s Tony Hawk’s Wasteland out there to a certain extent. For myself personally, I’ve chosen to stay home the past weekend and not go out skating. I’ve gotten hit up to roll out, but I’ve also talked to homies that don’t want to add to the problem and have been doing a good job at social distancing. I’ve definitely got a couple spots and tricks I wanna get during this whole thing, but I’m trying to do my part staying home and drunk, so you can’t leave 🙂
“It’s Tony Hawk’s Wasteland out there to a certain extent”
Carl Aikens | NYC
It’s raining a lot this week and New York is on lockdown. We aren’t supposed to be outside, the National Guard is here. I’ve seen tanks!
Blake Johnson | Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona is pretty crazy right now. The amount of deaths from coronavirus has passed China as the cases grow to 50,000 plus. No one is allowed outside unless you’re going to the store, doctor, pharmacy, or work which barely anyone has. It’s gnarly, I miss skating this place, but I hope this all ends soon man, it’s insane. It looks like The Twilight Zone, but we just have to keep fighting this with social distance and we can overome it.
Mike Bricke | The House | Vista, CA
How are you guys navigating the current situation?
It’s tough. We’re taking it very seriously.
Are people still doing pick up orders and online? How are those going?
Pick up is available at the moment, but is to be determined. Our hours to provide pick up are also subject to change. Online store is offered 24/7 and we’re working on setting up local free shipping thehouseofvista.bigcartel.com
Any thoughts about how fucked this is for small businesses?
It’s really scary. I think 90 percent of the people I personally know have been affected. Small and big business are all being hit.
People can still help right? With online orders and gift card purchases?
Online and gift cards are always offered. Contact us through our online store, DM us on Insta @thehouseofvista or call 760-724-1355. Stay safe and healthy and practice all necessary precautions. The main thing is to get through this, not just our skate shop, but the community as a whole and we all need each other to do that. We’ve also started a physical education initiative in regards to social distancing on Instagram called @Socialdistanceanddestroy with @Pickpocketmfg if people want to check that out. Thanks everyone for the support!
Lannie Rhoades | Creature, OJ, Independent Filmer | Oceanside, CA
Man, at first I guess it was like exciting to think, “All schools and businesses are gonna be shut down, it’s gonna be a free for all out here. Time to get on it.” Then a couple trips with the Creature boys we had in the works started fizzling out with travel bans kicking in and such. So now it’s like, “Okay, we’re stuck in our zone at the moment. All good, there’re so many spots we can skate that usually aren’t a go. Let’s go wreak some havoc and make some spots skateable.” Next thing you know, we started discussing some approaches at home and unfortunately more and more news is coming in of the severity of this virus. Everyone has their own approach in this uncertain time and some people are down to be out and about getting after it, and some just wanna be on the program, ya know? Stick it out at home. Totally understandable. For me personally, as everything came about and it got more and more serious, I just think about my close friends and family and what’s best for us. Weird how shit starts to go through your head of what is important. If my people are ready to jump and no else is down to film, I’m in. But if y’all got a filmer sorted, Imma kick back. Pretty much just kind of started working on projects at home more and a couple more beers than normal. Not too bad all things considering.
I rarely get any free time outside of the shit I would be (and wanna be doing) for Creach, OJ and Indy. Between wanting to go out and skate with my friends, who are also team riders for the brands I work for, and editing, I stay busy. I’ve been stoked to get some idle time to try out new stuff I’ve never really had the opportunity to take a stab at. Jake Smith (Creature Brand Manager) asked me to make a commercial to hype this Milton graphic coming out featuring a Milton inspired cartoon. Jake rev’d up getting me to take a shot at animating the artwork, which I have zero idea how to do. Ultimately with everything going on I had a bit more time to give it a little more focus. It ain’t even close to being the best, but I am really stoked on how it came out [laughs]. If this whole thing keeps up and we really have to stay at home longer, definitely would try to learn more with animating and shit. Seems fun. If I wasn’t a computer dork, I’d imagine it would be cool to do some woodworking with Fig, Stoogs and Collin or something. Probably just gonna go skate with my brother Bobby and my wife a bunch in reality though. There’s always something to do to pass the time, might as well learn some shit. Just gotta keep the hand sanitizer on deck and a brew in hand. Life is good, stay healthy out there gram fam.
David Toole | Bluetile Skateshop | Columbia, SC | bluetilesc.com
How are you guys doing right now?
I’m obviously worried. Right now, we have some money in the account due to some successful Nike releases. So far, we’re operating with locked doors and asking people to shop our website. We have options for curbside pick-up and same day delivery. We’re trying our best to wipe everything down with disinfectant wipes and sprays, but that stuff is going to run out if it’s not restocked in stores soon.
Are people still doing pick up orders / online? How are those going?
The first week wasn’t so bad. This second week is going to dry up, I think. We’re still trying to make Bluetile product and offer it to folks who have some cash, but we’re asking people with limited resources to hold onto what they have and take care of themselves first.
Any thoughts about how fucked this is for small businesses?
So many levels. I’ve definitely taken in how fragile and precarious this capitalist machine is that we rely on. Everyone is so confused and angry politically right now and that’s not helping anyone. I’m trying to do what’s best for my employees, but there are different stories coming from both sides and I don’t know what the best option is. I ask the guys every day if they want to just stay home. The option to be “laid off” and collect unemployment is there, but one of our employees, Irving Juarez, is a DACA recipient and although we have to take taxes out of his check he doesn’t see any sort of tax returns or incentives that other tax paying Americans see. Man, I could go on. Basically, I have enough in my account for about two months of mortgage at home…if I don’t eat. Currently my healthcare auto-pays from the business account. That’s 512 bucks a month, so I’m faced with, “Do I let my healthcare bankrupt me or do I take it off auto-pay and just go without health insurance?” I really have no idea. I’m looking into programs this week but something we have that a lot of people don’t is federal disaster relief loans from the 2015 flood—so do I just take out another giant loan on top of the giant loan I’m already paying off?
How long before it screws up your situation really bad?
I can’t imagine how to go past a couple months, but I have faith we will somehow make it out. Bluetile is kinda like the A-team.. or cockroaches… we will survive whatever you throw at us. It’s just gonna suck.
People can still help right? With online orders, gift cards purchases?
They can purchase stuff at bluetilesc.com, but everyone is going to be in the same boat. I know there are people out there with stacks of money—I hope they’re feeling really generous! We’ve been making YouTube videos going over new product and whatever we’re feeling at that moment. That’s just “David Bluetile” on YouTube. We just don’t want to ask people to give more than they can. We all have to survive this weirdness and in no way do I want to pretend that we’re alone in this struggle.
Alex Papke | Photographer | Long Beach, CA
Weren’t you on a trip when this all started to go down?
I was in Argentina when all this started going downhill. We were out skating every day, and it was crazy because it seemed like no one out there was really reacting to it while I would see grocery stores in the States selling out of toilet paper in minutes. Every day, the news was getting worse and worse, then all of a sudden the government announced they were closing boarders and we had to come back early. The last few days we were there everything started feeling weird, we made jokes about how when we would go out to eat we shouldn’t talk so they don’t know we’re American. When I got back home, I had shoots the first few days and it felt weird being out and about with all of the homies while the whole world was shutting down around us. After those two days, I was pretty over it and have been keeping it tight minus going to the grocery store. It doesn’t feel right being out skating right now.
Are you practicing social distancing?
Minus my roommates and maybe a handful of friends, I’m trying to but its tough when you’re somewhere like the grocery store or any place that’s close proximity. I’ve been washing my hands as much as possible and am burning through hand sanitizer faster than ever.
Just in the first week of all of this, almost all of my clients have frozen their budgets for photographers and I don’t expect to get paid for a lot of work that I’m owed from a handful of companies. It’s really weird, I see a ton of my friends getting laid off from their jobs and it’s crazy to think of where this is going to leave everyone. I have nothing to shoot right now that I’ll make money off of and have to live off of savings and credit cards for the foreseeable future, minus the one small retainer that I still have.
I see some people out skating and it kind of feels crazy. It’s an ideal time to be out with lack of people out and about, but I’m not trying to risk anything. The week this all started happening I was in seven airports over a few days and the last thing I want to do is get anyone sick, even if I’m not showing symptoms. I walked down to the beach yesterday to get some fresh air and was really surprised how many people were out. I guess that makes me part of the problem, but it’s tough sitting inside everyday. I have a feeling a lot of freelancers that are shooting and filming skating are going to take a huge hit from this. As for skaters, as long as the companies they skate for stay afloat I think they’ll be all good, but we’re only a week into this so who knows what’s going to happen.
Ando Caulfield | FTC | San Francisco, CA
SF is slow, lots of social distancing, but there’re a lot of people in the parks and beaches, kinda blowing it, but it seems like it’s mellowing out a bit now.
I quit my job with a photo agency a few weeks before this because I was gonna travel a bunch, so those plans got cancelled. If anything it’s made me more healthy and more aware of my habits and things I could be doing to make my life better, like simple at home workouts and longer walks. So I’m trying to just learn from it and make the best of it.
FTC has been shut down at our physical location on Haight St, but our mail order is still going strong. We’ve taken a hit, but everyone has for sure, so again just gotta make the best of it and push through.
Seems like most skaters are chilling. I’m sure some are going out and skating, now’s a great time to hit those hard to hit spots so people are going for it, but a lot of skaters are laying low.
I came up with the FaceTime project kinda as a joke being bored. I had all my studio stuff set up at my house to shoot some nudes for this book I’m working on and shot a friend on FaceTime as a joke and the birth of the idea just came from that. It’s been really fun tapping in with people I haven’t talked to in a long time and some people I’ve never met. Cool to get people’s stories from around the world and to just have something to do also.
Richie Jackson | London
Danny Wallace | Tum Yeto | San Diego, CA
How is it different working from home, doing sales?
The actual work isn’t any different being at home versus in the office, it’s the current state that we’re in as a people and the industry that makes this a unique time. We’re a small group of people here at Tum Yeto. The fact that we’re all working remotely really puts the situation into perspective.
Has the virus negatively impacted your sales? Or are people stocking up like its toilet paper?
Man, if we could turn the Toy Machine and Foundation “baker’s dozen” into the Charmin shopping cart craze, we’d be in a pretty good place, right? In all honesty, sales have been pretty steady from our retail partners out there, given the circumstances. Even with mandatory closures of non-essential businesses, shops are still finding ways to supply their customers with skate goods.
Is it harder to get product to shops and/or the team riders?
Getting product out the door hasn’t been a problem. Our “Director of Affairs” Matt Barker has been Sheltering in Place at Tum Yeto HQ during shipping hours. As long as our UPS truck continues to show up each day, we’ll be shipping out orders.
Have you noticed shops or team riders ordering less due to skating less?
Shops are definitely ordering less frequently since many of them have closed their doors temporarily to help slow the spread of the virus. The skateboard community is a resilient group of people. Skateshops are the backbone of this industry, and seeing their dedication to keeping business moving through times like these inspires me to do everything I can to help keep the dream alive. In regards to team guys, we have riders like Myles Willard buying goods in order to provide his shop sponsor, Vu Skateshop, a credit on their future Tum Yeto orders.
Tum Yeto urges you to do everything you can to purchase skate goods from your local skate shops, especially during these tough times. If you are unable to purchase from your local skate shop due to COVID 19 closures, Tum Yeto will issue a 25% credit from your Foundation, Toy Machine, and Pig Wheels purchases directly to your local shop
Thanks to everyone we spoke to for this article and we hope you all stay safe, stay inside and keep washing those hands. We will get through this! Love.-TWS crew.