The Board Blazers Blog


Skateboard Shops: Know Before You Go!

Is it time for new wheels? Want to buy a board for yourself (or someone else) for the first time? Are you grabbing a few copies of the latest Transworld Skateboarding magazine? Head to your nearest skate shop! Whether you’re a regular around there or a complete newbie, it’s best to be prepared before you go, and we’re here today to help!


First, you’re going to need to find a skate shop, if you don’t have one to which you’re already loyal. While Googling “skate shops near me” will definitely return results, we’d suggest you try Yelp.com if you haven’t already. It's a business search engine that allows you to narrow your search area by adjusting the map and then will return results to you based upon ratings and reviews by other users. And when it comes to skate shops, you want a good honest place. People are vocal about great stores, so trust the masses to help you find a killer business. Start by searching for “skateboard shop” with the area being the city or town where you live, and then go from there.


You’re likely to come up with loads of results ranging from the usual sporting goods stores (think the kind that also sells canoes, tents, and basketballs), to hardware stores (believe it or not, some do sell skateboards!), to colossal skate/punk retailers like Zumiez and PacSun. Amidst all of these choices, you will find a few diamonds in the rough – the local skate store owned and staffed by lovers of all things skateboarding. THAT is the place you want to go. While the other stores are satisfactory in their own right, a genuine skateboard shop will offer you the best experience and all of the benefits we are about to share with you.


Once you’ve got a place in mind (or maybe you’ve already got a great storefront you love!), here are a few things to remember. Firstly, you’ll want to have some idea of why you’re there, even if you know it's only to browse. Staff at great stores will offer to help you as soon as you arrive, and knowing what you want, even some small idea of what you might want is super helpful to the salesperson.


Let’s take a quick minute here and make a point that might seem obvious: Don’t try to impress the salesperson. Be honest about your knowledge of products or lack thereof. One of the worst things you can do is walk in and try to look cool or educated to the staff. There’s no need to impress anyone; if you’re looking to buy a board for your nephew or granddaughter and you know nothing about skating, say so! They won’t judge you, in fact, they will be of MORE help to you because they will know the right questions to ask as a follow-up. If you over or undersell your knowledge and skating ability, you might walk out of the store with the absolute wrong product, and that’s a bummer for no one but you, my friend. In our experience, the staffers at local skate outfits are very kind and not judgmental, so speak freely about your level of knowledge and skill.


The salespeople at these stores are basically like professors at a mini-skateboard university. Selling skate gear is what they do with their life, and they know a TON about it. We recommend asking as many questions as you can and then actively listening to the answers. Unless they say something totally off-the-wall (hasn't happened to us yet), trust their advice. It's their job, and they know what’s up. Let’s say you walk in hoping to buy a specific skateboard and based on your skills the salesperson recommends against it, listen up. Odds are they know what they’re talking about and you might be way happier shredding on a different piece of equipment. Look at it as an opportunity to build relationships with some of the most knowledgeable skaters in your area. The employees are a treasure trove of info. They should be your first ask when you’re looking for gear, recommendations, spots to skate, insider tips – anything!


Lots of people walk into a skate shop looking to buy a skateboard, either for themselves or someone else. If that’s you, RAD!! We are stoked you want to start skating, or continue shredding with a new setup! If you hit up your local skate shop you’re definitely in the right place, but be advised, you might not leave the shop with a skateboard that same day. Chat with the salespeople and get their advice. Choosing a board can be difficult (if you want to simplify the process, see our How-To here!), and it can be deeply personal. Don’t be disappointed if you leave without a board or need to gather some follow-up info before settling on your purchase. You’ll be glad you put in the effort and eventually ended up with the perfect product!


Although you might think that all skateboards are created equal (especially if you’re not a skater), it’s important to be committed to purchasing the correct gear for yourself or someone else. The right equipment can make all the difference in your experience of the sport! If you aren’t sure, and you NEED to make a purchase that day (I’m looking at you, dads shopping on Christmas Eve, ha!), we suggest a gift card and some skate stickers. Any skater will flip (pun intended) for money to spend on skateboarding gear, and skate stickers are always sick. Sometimes your local shop will toss some your way for free! And if you want to make the gift extra legit, throw in a set of Board Blazers - they'll elevate anyone's night skate experience for sure!


Getting to know your local skate shop is a great experience, and knowing what you need and what to expect before you head out the door will enhance your experience. So what are your favorite local haunts? Hit us up on Instagram @BoardBlazers and let us know! We blaze all over, and who knows? You might just run into us at your killer local skate shop next time you’re there!


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How To Choose A Skateboard 

How to choose a skateboard

 

Imagine this: your kid (or grandkid) looks deep into your eyes, clasps their hands over their heart, and tells you—all they want for their birthday is a skateboard.

Awesome! Exciting times ahead.

Except...you’ve never skateboarded. (Or if you did, it’s been a while.) And you have no idea which kind of skateboard to buy for them. How big? What kind? A longboard?

It can be overwhelming—which is why we put together this handy guide to take you through the process of choosing a skateboard, step by step.

 

Part 1: Picking The Board

Step 1: Figure out what type of skating your kid wants to do

The first and most important question in choosing a skateboard—what will the skateboard be used for? Just like you wouldn’t buy a cello for someone who wants to play music in their tiny apartment (a ukulele is probably a better match) or a pack of frozen dinners for a budding chef (maybe splash out on a KitchenAid), you want to make sure this board fits the function.

 Is the prospective skater just interested in getting to school or friends’ houses without needing to stash a bike somewhere? Or do they want to learn some sweet tricks? 

If the board is just for transportation, they’ll want a longboard or a pennyboard.

If they want to do tricks, you’re looking at a traditional skateboard—a shortboard.

Choosing a penny board, longboard, or skateboard can be tricky if you don't know what you want to use the board for.

 

OUR FIRST BOARD RECOMMENDATION: If you’re not sure, go with a shortboard. You can cruise AND do tricks on a shortboard, but a longboard is too heavy and bulky to perform tricks.

 

Step 2: Pick the right board shape 

You might think all boards are flat, but you’ll soon discover there are a ton of options to choose from. Radial, progressive, w-concave, flat-cave, asymmetric, convex...all of these are helpful for experienced skaters who want to perform certain tricks better, but for first boards, they’re not super helpful.

 

OUR FIRST BOARD RECOMMENDATION: Beginners should always go for the simplest option available. You can always complicate things later.

  

Step 3: Pick the right size board

There are four main sizes of skateboards decks, all measured by the width of the board: micro, mini, mid size, and full size. Micro boards are 6.5 – 6.75 inches wide and are for kids 5 and under, while mini boards are 7” wide and are ideal for slightly older kids.

The most common beginning deck size for kids is mid-size, which correspond to shoe sizes 7 and 8.

Beginning adults will want a full size board, which are 7.5” or wider. This handy chart from Warehouse Skateboards does a great job explaining the differences:

Skateboard Deck Sizes--consider the size when you choose a skateboard for the first time.

 Also check out this handy and informative article from Wheels Compared. It's a great resource for sizing  your board among other things!

Step 4: Choose a material

In the construction of skateboard decks, Canadian Maple is the most common material. The two other most popular board-making materials are Bamboo and Baltic Birch plywood.

Plastic is another alternative that is much cheaper, and is usually found in penny boards. There are also aluminum and fiberglass decks that work in a similar way.

Canadian Maple’s popularity comes largely from the quality of the wood and stability it provides.

 

OUR FIRST BOARD RECOMMENDATION: Can’t tell Canadian Maple from Baltic Birch? No worries. Talk to your local skate shop employee and let them guide you with their wisdom.

  

Step 5: Decide on COMPLETE vs BUILD YOUR OWN


Yes, you CAN build your own skateboard by purchasing the deck, wheels, trucks, and bearings separately, and then assembling it on your own. In the rare case that your prospective skater knows exactly what they want (i.e. wheel size/material, custom deck shape, etc.), steer away from those murky waters—ESPECIALLY for a first board.

Instead, go for a “complete.” That means a pre-assembled skateboard that includes all components.

Once your prospective skater has developed some skating preferences, you can always upgrade piece-by-piece.

 

 

Part 2: Buying The Board

Step 6: Decide where to buy

 The safest way to make the best choice, especially if buying a board for your child, is to visit a local shop. Yes, you can buy skateboards (and literally everything else) online, but it’s difficult to get a feel for a board’s physicality when all you see is some pictures.

If you visit a local skate shop, you’re getting the benefit of their expertise. Plus, some shops even allow customers to take boards for a short test ride—and you get to support the local economy! As an extra bonus, you can ask the salesperson about local places to skate, and if you’re spending more than $50 on a new board, you can also ask for some free extras like skate stickers or skate wax.

A word of warning--be careful when buying skateboards from supermarkets or big box retailers, because the quality is generally lower, which means they’re actually harder to ride and more dangerous. This brings us to the all-important quality inspection.

 

Step 6: Inspect the quality of the board

On a good quality board, the wheels will roll more easily, it will be easier to turn (that’s a good thing!), and it’ll be more stable than cheaper boards. Before you pull out your wallet, check out the board’s quality. As an easy rule of thumb, you’re checking for the amount of plastic. More plastic = bad.

Here’s what you’re looking for:

  • The trucks connect the wheels to the deck. If the trucks are plastic, that’s a bad sign.
  • Pass on plastic or rubber wheels. Wheels should be made of urethane (often a whitish clear color), which provide a smoother ride and better grip. Ask a salesman if you’re not sure.
  • Spin the wheels. Do they spin freely, without any grinding or wobbling? ABEC is a scale of the preciseness of a bearing. You want ABEC 5 or 7 for skating.

 This guide to avoiding cheap skateboards will give you more information about how to test a board for quality. Please make sure you pick a high quality board!

 

Step 7: Expect the right price 

Warning: Don’t cheap out.

In general, here’s what you can expect to pay for a complete skateboard at a skate shop:

Shortboard: $49.99 - $99.99

Longboard: $99.99 - $149.99

Penny Board/Plastic Cruiser: $89.99 - $124.99

We know that can feel like a lot of money, but see above in re: quality and safety. If you have more time to invest, you can always search for secondhand boards on Craigslist or at other consignment stores—or through friends who have barely-used skateboard gifts sitting in their garages, waiting for a tuneup.

  

Conclusion 

We know giving a skateboard as a present can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not super familiar with the sport. But if you carefully follow these seven steps, you’ll have a perfect gift in no time!

 

If you have any questions about your specific skateboard-buying situation, please email us at greg@grenadainnovations.com—seriously! We’re not joking. Send us an email and we’ll do whatever we can to help you out.

 

 Note: This is a revamped version of an article originally written by Yogin Patel. To read some of Yogin's other articles, check out 7 Benefits of Skateboarding or Top 5 Summer Skateboarding Camps in the United States

 

Photo credit: Max Garcia


Let's hang out!

Hit us up in your favorite spot.

Drop into Discounts!

Snag secret savings, super sweepstakes, and sweet swag!

Got the write stuff?

Now welcoming guest posts from our skate fam! Send us your topic ideas.