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Choosing the Right Distributors for Your Skate Shop

Choosing the right distributors is crucial for your skate shop’s success, but navigating their offerings can be challenging. Unlike retail stores, distributors often require you to establish an account before accessing their full inventory details. This makes selecting the perfect partners a critical decision.

One key distinction lies in the types of brands distributors carry:

  • “All brands” distributors: These distributors offer a diverse selection from various companies, allowing you to cater to a broader customer base and test the market before committing to specific brands.
  • “Brand specific” distributors: These distributors represent a single brand or a limited group of brands, often those they create themselves. Partnering directly can offer unique products and deeper brand relationships, but requires a proven track record and larger order quantities.

Below, we’ll go into these options and provide additional details to help you identify the ideal distributors for your shop.

When to order from a “All Brands” distributor:

As a new shop, consider starting with one or two “all brands” distributors (see below for the list). Here’s why, with additional information:

  • Variety is key: “All brands” distributors offer a diverse selection, allowing you to cater to a broader customer base, encompassing beginners, experienced skaters, and specific style preferences (street, park, bowl, etc.). This helps you test the market and gauge demand before committing to a “brand specific” distributor.
  • Testing the waters: Before going direct with “brand specific” accounts, you can test the popularity of specific brands with your customers. Monitor sales data and customer feedback to identify top-selling and high-demand brands. This information will be crucial when establishing direct brand relationships later.
  • Building your inventory: “All brands” distributors are a great way to stock up on essential gear quickly and efficiently. They often offer competitive pricing and bulk discounts, making them ideal for building your initial inventory without breaking the bank.

Going Direct: When to create a Brand Relationship

Once you’ve established your shop and identified top-selling brands, it’s time to consider direct brand accounts. Here are the signs, with additional details:

  • Proven track record: You’ve demonstrated consistent sales of a brand’s products over a period of time, making you an attractive partner for them. This typically takes at least a year of consistent operation.
  • Filling the gaps: The brand isn’t available through your “all brands” distributors. Some niche or independent brands might only have direct distribution options.
  • Investing for the future: You’re committed to building a long-term relationship with the brand and willing to invest in larger quantities, which often leads to better pricing and exclusive benefits.

Beyond Transactions: Building Relationships with Brands

Unlike “all brands” distributors, going direct opens doors to a deeper collaboration. Here’s why, with additional details:

  • Mutual success: Both parties are invested in your shop’s success. Brands offer various forms of support like marketing materials, training programs, and co-branded events, while you promote their products and contribute to their brand loyalty.
  • Nurture the bond: Stay connected with brand representatives. Engage on social media, share their content, and participate in their marketing initiatives. This demonstrates your commitment to the brand and strengthens the relationship.
  • Reaping the rewards: A strong relationship can lead to exclusive products, marketing support, and even co-branded merchandise. This not only benefits your shop by offering unique products but also helps you stand out from the competition.

Need a Helping Hand?

We’re here to guide you! Send us an email with details about your shop, including your location and brand preferences. With this information, we can help you identify the best distributors and potentially connect you directly with brand representatives.

Let’s Explore Some Options:

“All Brands” Distributors:

AWH: Incredible for sales, specials, and a vast brand selection. Offers half-off shipping on orders of $1,000+ and free shipping on orders above $2,000. Ships from Illinois, ideal for East Coast shops. They are known for their competitive pricing and extensive selection of past-season products.

Eastern Skate Supply: Carries a vast selection of skate, surf, snowboard, and roller skating gear. Offers online browsing and order requests for customers. Ships from North Carolina, benefiting East Coast and Midwest shops for 1-2 day delivery. They are known for their wide variety of products and their customer-friendly online platform.

South Shore Distribution: Extensive brand selection. Ships from Houston, Texas, convenient for East Coast and Midwest locations. They are known for a wide selection of brands and fast shipping.

Ocean Ave: Extensive brand selection. Ships from Satellite Beach, Florida, ideal for quick delivery for East Coast and Midwest shops.

Brand Specific Distributors:

Triple 8 NYC: Focuses on safety equipment, carrying brands like Triple 8, 187 Killer Pads, Moxi, and Wipeout

NHS: Brands include: Santa Cruz, Creature, Independent, Krux, Ricta, OJ, Slime Ball, MOB. NHS is a powerhouse, offering unique collaborations (remember those Pokemon decks?), sweet sale items, and even faster East Coast/Midwest shipping thanks to their new warehouse in Tennessee.

DGK (Dirty Ghetto Kids): Owned by the skateboarding icon Stevie Williams, DGK boasts sought-after products. But maintaining a diverse selection often requires going directly to them, as their availability through other distributors is limited.

CrailTap: Home to Girl, Chocolate, and CrailTap, CrailTap is a staple in the skate world, offering top-notch products and a loyal following.

Mother Distribution: Mother Distribution brings emerging brands like Glue (owned by Leo Baker) alongside established names like Quasi. Every season, you can find some incredible sales through them. 

Skate Jawn: This East Coast skate magazine is more than just words and pics. They actively support shops by sharing your media and showcasing your shop videos on their website.

Mesa Distribution: They offer diverse options, featuring established brands like Ace Trucks and Pepper, alongside Uma Landsleds, owned by the legendary Evan Smith.

Sidewalk Distribution: Sidewalk carries brands like Opera (owned by Bill Weiss), Jacuzzi (owned by Louie Barletta), and Slappy Trucks.

Baker Boys Distribution: They’re the go-to for edgy and iconic brands like Baker, Deathwish, Shake Junt, Heroin, Psockadelic, Birdhouse, Piss Drunx, and Sour.

Deluxe Distribution: They’re the heavy hitters, carrying brands like Spitfire, Real, and Thunder Trucks. Go direct with them for exclusive products, and don’t miss their “Skate Shop Day” initiative showcasing independent shops like yours!

Skate 1: Skate 1 brings back classic brands like Powell Peralta and Bones Brigade with highly successful reissues and top-quality Bones Bearings. They also offer comprehensive support for their partner shops.

Understanding the offerings and benefits of each distributor can help skate shops make informed decisions for their businesses. Whether it’s accessing exclusive products, building relationships with supportive distributors, or saving money with special offerings,  these insights can guide your path to success in the skateboarding industry.

Need Our Assistance?

We’re here for you! Send us an email with details about your shop, and we’ll help you identify potential distributors and brand partners. We may even be able to connect you directly with brand representatives to kickstart your journey.

With the right knowledge and strategies, securing those wholesale accounts and getting your shop stocked with the hottest brands is totally achievable.


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