The thrill of a well-executed kickflip, the sense of community among skaters, and the unique culture that surrounds the sport – if these aspects call out to you, starting a skate shop could be your path to entrepreneurial success. If you have a genuine love of the sport and eat, breathe, and live skateboards, then you might be well-positioned to open a skate shop of your own.
A skate shop means you’ll be immersed in the skateboarding world daily and have the chance to connect with and advise other skaters. But how do you go about it? In this article, we’ll guide you through the process, providing an overview of the business, industry trends, and steps to get started.
A skate shop is not only a place where skateboards, accessories, apparel, and gear are sold but is also a hub for the local skateboarding community. These shops tend to focus heavily on building the skateboarding community, and they become a go-to resource for skaters of all ages. Skate shops often sponsor competitions, local skating groups, or individual athletes and may also put on demonstrations.
The key to success in this business lies in building strong relationships with your customers, providing quality products, and offering expert guidance and service.
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The sport of skateboarding is well-known for its notable style. According to Martlet, while the sport originated as the “sport of outcasts,” today, skate style is nearly everywhere. Skateboarding has come far in its evolution as a sport and a culture. Since the 1990s, skateboarding has become tremendously popular, and it’s now an officially recognized sport, beginning with the 2021 Olympics.
During those 30 years, skateboarding has been normalized as a sport and pastime. The sport has become more accessible, and skate fashion is now normalized as a mainstream fashion. That style comes in phases, with certain trends gaining popularity and then circling back again.
The skateboarding industry has shown steady growth over the past decade, fueled by an increase in skateboarding’s popularity and its inclusion in international sporting events. This industry isn’t just about retail but encompasses manufacturing, media, events, and sponsorship.
According to Grand View Research, the global skateboard market is thriving and is predicted to be a $2.4 billion market by 2025. Increased awareness of overweight and obesity issues among children has led to more support for skateboarding and other sports that keep kids physically active and healthy. Increased construction of public skate parks and government initiatives for skate park construction has led to more parks and more opportunities for skateboarders.
The skateboarding industry is heavily influenced by trends, both in terms of skateboarding itself and broader cultural shifts. Here are a few key trends to note:
- Sustainability: As in many sectors, there’s a growing demand for environmentally friendly products in skateboarding. This includes boards made from sustainable materials, eco-friendly packaging, and ethical manufacturing processes.
- Diversity: Skateboarding is becoming increasingly diverse, with more women and people of color involved in the sport than ever before. This trend is reflected in the products and imagery used by skate shops.
- Technological iIt’s now an officially recognized sport, beginning with the 2021 Olympicsntegration: The integration of technology in skateboard design and manufacturing is another trend. Electric skateboards and longboards are gaining popularity. Additionally, apps and social media play a significant role in the skateboarding community, influencing buying decisions.
Skate shops market to children, teens, and adults who love the sport. Most shops market to local skateboarding enthusiasts, though shops with online stores may also market to national audiences. When shops connect with children who are just getting introduced to the sport, these kids can become long-term customers through their teen and adult years.
Checklist To Start A Skate Shop
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Starting a skate shop can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for the challenges ahead. Use this checklist to help get your business off on the right foot.
Step 1: Research the Market
Conducting thorough market research is a fundamental step before starting a skate shop or any business, for that matter. Ignoring this phase can lead to misguided decisions and unexpected challenges down the road.
Let’s explore why this research is so important.
Understand demand: Market research helps gauge whether there’s genuine demand for a skate shop in a particular area. It’s like testing the water before taking the plunge.
Identify competition: Knowing what competitors are doing allows you to find a unique angle for your shop and avoid saturating the market.
Assess customer needs: It helps you understand what products, services, or experiences your potential customers are seeking, thus aligning your offerings with their needs.
Reduce risk: With proper research, the risks associated with starting a business are reduced, as you’re basing your decisions on data, not just intuition.
While there is no amount of research that will guarantee success with any new business, here are a few ways to see if your community would support a skate shop:
Surveys: Use online survey tools to gather information from potential customers. You can ask about their skateboarding habits, preferences for brands, and what they’d like to see in a local skate shop. Share the surveys through social media and local online communities.
Local skateboarding events: Attend local skateboarding events to observe and interact with potential customers. This can give you firsthand knowledge of their needs and preferences.
Social media: Platforms like Instagram and Facebook are great for gauging interest in skateboarding in your local area. Look at the number of followers local skateboarding pages have and the engagement on their posts.
Competitor analysis: Visit other skate shops in your area or look at their websites to see what products they offer, their prices, and their customer service approach. Even if there are no other shops nearby, it doesn’t mean enough people are in your area to support yours.
Local community engagement: Partner with local schools, clubs, or community centers to conduct workshops or information sessions. Use these as opportunities to gauge interest.
Collaborate with local universities: If you’re near a college or university, consider partnering with business or marketing students for a project. They might conduct market research as part of their coursework at a minimal cost.
Online marketplaces: Check out online marketplaces like Amazon or eBay to see what skateboarding products are popular and read customer reviews.
By focusing on these cost-effective methods, aspiring skate shop owners can paint a realistic picture of the market landscape. This process isn’t merely an administrative hurdle; it’s the foundational work that guides every subsequent decision in the business. It’s about grounding your passion in reality, and these strategies allow you to do so without breaking the bank.
Step 2: Write the Business Plan
After confirming that a customer base exists for your business, writing a business plan for a skate shop is the next step. Just as a skater plots their course through a park, a business plan lays out the path for the shop, defining objectives, strategies, and potential roadblocks. In addition, it’s also a vital document for attracting funding as investors and lenders need to see a clear plan showing how you will use their funds and generate a return on investment.
While all of the sections of a business plan are important, there are a few sections lenders and investors will pay more attention to. These include:
Market analysis: This is where you showcase your understanding of your target audience, competitors, and the niche you intend to fill in the skateboarding community.
Marketing and sales strategy: Define how you’ll attract and retain customers. For a skate shop, this could include community engagement, hosting events, or offering skateboarding lessons.
Financial projections: Provide a sales forecast, expense budget, how much money is needed, and how it will be used. This section is not only important for the bank, but it also gives you insight into the financial feasibility of this business.
Also if your skate shop is impacted by seasonality (for instance, in areas where winter affects outdoor skating), this section should reflect those seasonal fluctuations. I
Management team: Detail your business structure, ownership, and management team. The success of a business is often related to the people behind it, so be sure to explain the personal and professional experiences of the team.
Related: How to write a business plan
Step 3: Source Funding
Once the ink on the business plan has dried, the next important step is to make sure you have the funding in place to continue on this journey. While the excitement of setting up your skate shop can be thrilling, understanding the financial aspects is a necessary step. I’ll dig into some of the more common sources of funding:
Personal savings: It’s very likely that you will need to dip into personal savings to get started. The benefit here is clear: no loan payments to worry about, but depending on the scale of your skate shop, your savings may cover all or just part of your startup costs. If additional funding is needed, there are other options.
Friends and family: A source of funding is loans or investments from friends and family. This can be an excellent way to raise funds, but it’s crucial to put agreements in writing to avoid misunderstandings. Also, consider the potential impact on your relationships if your business struggles.
Bank loans: Traditional bank loans are a common option when starting a business, but they often require the borrower to invest at least 15% of their personal funds, have a credit score above 650, and provide sufficient collateral. Banks are looking for a solid business plan and evidence that the loan can be repaid. If a bank feels the loan is too risky, they might utilize an SBA loan guarantee to mitigate some of that risk.
Microloans: If your investment needs are low or you can’t get credit from a bank, microloans could be an option. These are small loans, often with lower interest rates than traditional loans, and are typically offered by local economic development agencies.
Angel investors: Angel investors are individuals with high net worth who invest in businesses in exchange for equity. They can be a source of funding, however, they may be challenging to get as most are looking for scalable businesses in sectors like technology or biotech. That said, local angel investors interested in skateboarding or retail might be willing to invest in your shop.
Crowdfunding: Another innovative way to fund your skate shop is through crowdfunding. Crowdfunding platforms allow individuals to donate or invest in a business or project in return for a reward, equity, or simply the satisfaction of supporting a venture they believe in.
In conclusion, securing funding for your skate shop will likely involve a combination of sources. It’s crucial to consider each option and its implications for your business carefully. With careful planning and a compelling business plan, you can secure the funds you need to turn your dream of owning a skate shop into reality.
Step 4: Register the Business
With the often difficult step of getting the money, the next important step is registering the business and making sure it is legal to operate. The process may vary from state to state, but here are some of the common steps.
Choose a business structure: The first step in making your skate shop legal is choosing the right business structure. The four common types are:
– Sole proprietorship: Often chosen for its ease of startup and lower cost. It’s simple but doesn’t offer personal liability protection.
– Partnership: An option if you plan to run the shop with one or more partners but has the same lack of liability protection as the sole proprietor. Partnership agreements should outline responsibilities and profit-sharing.
– Corporation: Offers the liability protection for the owners, but is more complex and costly to set up.
– Limited Liability Company (LLC): Combines the benefits of a corporation and a sole proprietorship, offering liability protection. It’s a popular choice for small retail businesses as it is easier to administer and usually less costly than the corporation.
For skate shops, an LLC is likely the most appropriate structure. It provides liability protection, which can be particularly important given the potential for customer injuries in a skate shop.
Related: Comparison of business structures
Business name registration: After registering the business structure, you may need to register your business name. This process will vary depending on what business structure you pick. Sole proprietors and partnerships will often be required to register a “Doing Business As” (DBA), while corporations and LLCs register with the state during the formation process.
During this time, it’s also a good idea to check if the name you want is available as a web domain, even if you’re not ready to set up a website yet.
Obtain business licenses and permits: Depending on your location, there will likely be a variety of general licenses or permits needed before opening. This could include a business license, sign permit, seller’s permit, occupancy permit, and Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Step 5: Select a Location
Finding and preparing the perfect location for your skate shop is an exhilarating step, and finally starts to take all of the hard work done so far and have something to show for it. Finding a location is not just about picking a place; it’s about creating an environment where skaters will feel at home and where your products and services will shine.
Finding the right location will depend on your target market, competition, and budget. Consider areas where your target customers frequent and where there’s sufficient foot traffic. Ensure you have enough space for your inventory, customers, and any additional features like seating or display areas.
Location is everything for a skateboard shop, so scout potential locations carefully. Locations near skate parks, schools, and competition venues tend to do well. Try to get a sense of the local area and the popularity of skateboarding. Finding a location where there are already local competitions and an active skateboarding culture is ideal.
Consider not only offering in-person sales but branching out into online sales, too. Going online can increase your audience and help to drive sales. There’s lots of competition online for more general skate merchandise, but if you can stock some specialty products or items with unique personalization options, you can appeal to a broad skating audience and expand your shop’s reach. Check out online platforms like Shopify, Wix, Squarespace, and others.
Before signing any contracts, it’s crucial to have your funding secured. The process of securing funding can take longer than anticipated, and you don’t want to commit to a lease or purchase agreement before you’re sure you have the necessary funds.
Related: Choosing a business location
Step 6: Source Suppliers and Purchase Inventory
Once you’ve got your business registered and a location secured, the exciting task of stocking your shelves with the best skateboarding products awaits. Most suppliers in the skateboarding industry will not provide pricing or set up accounts until your business is officially registered and you have a physical location.
Trends and items that are in demand can vary greatly between different locations and demographics. Before opening your shop, get a sense of what’s popular in your area. Head to a local skate park and look at the boards skaters are using and the clothes that they’re wearing. If your friends are part of your target audience, ask them about the gear that they most prefer.
To stay ahead, consider attending skateboarding trade shows and exhibitions (it is tax deductable after all!). It’s a perfect opportunity to network with suppliers, view products, and even negotiate deals.
Step 7: Set Up the Store
Once you’ve secured your location and inventory is on the way, the preparation of the store begins. Setting up your skate shop is an adventure that requires both creativity and practicality. A few items to consider when setting up the store include:
Make necessary repairs: Before you can start setting up, you’ll want to make sure everything is in good working order. This includes plumbing, electrical wiring, heating and cooling systems, and any structural issues. If needed, hire professionals to make the necessary repairs.
Design the layout: You’ll start by defining the vibe and functionality of the space, considering how to display your products. This process often involves purchasing specialized equipment like shelving and display cases tailored to showcase skateboards and accessories.
Skateboard shops often have a distinct vibe that resonates with the skateboarding culture. Plan a layout that allows for easy movement and browsing while also creating engaging display areas for skateboards, clothing, and accessories.
Decorate with style: Consider adding murals, artwork, or other design elements that reflect skateboarding culture. Engaging a local artist who knows the scene could lead to a unique and appealing aesthetic.
Comply with regulations: Make sure you understand and comply with local building codes and regulations. This might include accessibility features, safety measures, and signage requirements. Consulting with a local inspector or permitting office early is a good way to prevent delays.
Install essential equipment: From lighting fixtures to shelving units, you’ll need to install various pieces of equipment that match the style and functionality of your shop.
Implement security measures: Consider security cameras, alarms, and other measures to protect your investment.
Create a community space: If possible, create an area where skaters can hang out, watch skate videos, or discuss their favorite hobby. It can turn your shop into a community hub, not just a retail space.
By focusing on these steps and working with a clear understanding of what skateboarders look for in a shop, you can create a space that’s not only a store but a destination for skate enthusiasts. It’s a chance to build a place that reflects the creativity and energy of skateboarding itself, ensuring your shop is more than just a retail outlet, but a true part of the local skateboarding community.
Step 8: Get your Marketing Plan in Place
Promoting a new skate shop business demands a fresh and innovative approach that resonates with the vibrant skateboarding community. Also, as the skateboarding market continues to grow, it’s crucial to stay on top of the latest trends and innovative marketing strategies. Here are some creative ways to promote your new skate shop:
Leverage social media platforms Instagram and TikTok are popular platforms among skateboarders. Post engaging content like behind-the-scenes footage, skate tutorials, and customer testimonials. Use relevant hashtags to increase visibility.
Partner with local skateboarding teams: Collaborate with local skateboarding teams for mutual promotion. You could sponsor their events or offer discounts to their members. This not only helps you reach a wider audience but also builds your reputation within the community.
Create engaging video content: Videos are a powerful marketing tool. Create a series of videos showcasing your products, featuring pro tips, or even documenting local skateboarding events. Don’t forget to share these videos on your social media platforms and YouTube.
Influencer marketing Partner with influencers in the skateboarding community. They can promote your shop on their platforms in exchange for free products or a sponsorship deal. This is a great way to reach a larger audience that trusts the influencer’s recommendations. Skate shops will also sell, or in some cases, give away t-shirts and stickers that their customers display and become walking advertisements for the stores.
Register on business directories Registering your business on Google Business Profile allows customers to easily find your shop online. Include your address, contact information, and operating hours. Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews. Also, consider listing your shop in other relevant directories like Yelp or Yellow Pages.
Join the Chamber of Commerce: Joining your local Chamber of Commerce provides opportunities to network with other local businesses. They often host events where you can promote your shop and learn from other successful business owners.
Exclusive in-store experiences: Host in-store workshops or skateboarding art exhibits, encouraging community participation.
Loyalty programs: Introduce a loyalty program for frequent customers, offering points, discounts, or exclusive access to events and products.
Step 9: Hire Staff
If you plan to hire employees to help run the store, there are some legal obligations to be aware of. Each state is different, but here are some common tasks to take care of before hiring.
Employer Identification Number (EIN): Obtain an EIN from the IRS. This is required for tax reporting.
Labor laws: Familiarize yourself with federal, state, and local labor laws. These cover minimum wage, overtime, child labor, workers’ compensation, and more.
Tax obligations: As an employer, you’ll need to withhold certain taxes from your employees’ wages. You may also need to pay unemployment tax.
Employment eligibility verification: Ensure each new hire is eligible to work in the U.S. by having them complete Form I-9.
Employee records: Maintain comprehensive records of each employee, including their application, resume, tax withholding forms, and any employment contract.
Related: Hiring your first employee
Step 10: Prepare to Open!
Embarking on the adventure of opening a skate shop is filled with excitement and potential, but before the wheels hit the pavement, there are some common loose ends that may need attention. While the exact requirements may vary for each business owner, these are some common tasks:
Business insurance: Business insurance is essential to protect your shop from potential risks. Here are some types you might consider:
– Liability insurance: Protects against claims from injuries or damages to third parties. It’s vital for skate shops where customers may try out products.
– Property insurance: Covers damage to property and inventory. Costs may vary based on location, building size, and coverage.
– Employee insurance (if applicable): Workers’ compensation is required if you have employees, covering them in case of work-related injuries.
Bookkeeping: Accurate record-keeping is the backbone of a successful business. Whether it’s a simple Excel spreadsheet or specialized software like Wave Accounting (FREE) or Quickbooks, managing finances should be a top priority.
Bank account: Separating personal and business finances is a good decision, especially for an LLC or corporation. Open a business bank account to manage expenses, profits, and taxes efficiently.
Accepting credit cards: If not using a POS system that includes credit card processing, you will likely want to accept credit cards as a way to encourage purchases. A few popular options include Square or Stripe.
Preparing for the grand opening: This is the time to shine. Plan an engaging event, offer opening-day specials, and reach out to the local skate community. Involve local skaters or influencers to make a splash.
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Common Questions When Starting A Skate Shop
How much does it cost to start a skate shop?
Starting a skate shop requires a careful financial plan, as the total initial costs on average range from $50,000 to $100,000, depending on various factors such as location, size, and inventory.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of the costs involved:
Location: If leasing, expect to pay first and last month’s rent plus a security deposit, ranging from $3,000 to $10,000. If purchasing the cost will run much higher.
Store build-out and renovations: Includes flooring, lighting, display cases, signage, etc., and can cost between $10,000 and $30,000.
Inventory: Skateboards, clothing, protective gear, and other related skateboarding gear can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 initially.
Business insurance: The initial cost for liability and property insurance may range from $1,000 to $2,000.
Legal and licensing fees: Registering the business, obtaining necessary permits, and legal fees can add up to $200 to $3,000.
Initial marketing and advertising: Grand opening promotions, website setup, and initial advertising may total around $2,000 to $5,000.
Equipment and fixtures: Shelving, cash registers, computer systems, etc., can run from $5,000 to $15,000.
Point of Sale and management software: Expect to pay around $1,000 to $2,500 for industry-specific software.
It’s also worth considering adding a buffer of three to six months of operating expenses on hand. This financial cushion will help to manage any unexpected challenges or slower-than-anticipated initial sales, ensuring that the business has the necessary resilience to grow and succeed.
What skills are needed to run a skate shop?
It doesn’t take a business degree to open and run a skate shop, but certain skills and experiences are valuable and helpful when running this type of business.
Skateboarding experience: Experience in and knowledge of skateboarding is essential. This experience will help a business owner choose quality products that will appeal to customers and help the owner advise customers and make good product recommendations.
Knowledge of skateboarding trends: A knowledge of skateboarding trends is needed to keep a shop well-stocked and deliver the products its customers will want. Awareness of current and emerging trends can help a shop stand out, encouraging customers to turn to it for information on the newest must-have products.
Customer service skills: Great customer service skills are important in building relationships with customers. This is particularly vital in a shake shop since a customer who’s a child may turn into a returning customer for decades to come.
Management experience: Experience in hiring, training, and managing staff can help a business owner keep a business running smoothly and find staff representing the store well.
Marketing knowledge: Most skate shops do at least some of their own marketing, so a knowledge of social media marketing, advertising techniques, and even event marketing will be valuable.
Passion for skateboarding: Above all else, a skate shop owner needs to have a genuine passion for skateboarding. This enthusiasm will come through in his or her interactions with customers.
What is the NAICS code for a skate shop?
The NAICS code for a skate shop is 451110, which is classified under Sporting Goods Stores.
The NAICS code (North American Industry Classification System) is a federal system to classify different types of businesses for the collection and reporting of statistical data.
Related: What is a NAICS code?
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