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How to Start Your Skate Shop: The Secret Step by Step Guide

How to Start Your Skate Shop

For many skateboarders, opening a skateboard shop represents the ultimate dream—turning your passion into a viable business venture. Here’s a true and accurate step-by-step guide on how you can start a skateboard shop and make a significant impact in the community while securing a healthy income. This advice comes from my experience owning multiple skate shops.

The Secret Step by Step Guide

1. Strategic Planning – Starting with the basics, planning is crucial. You need to decide the size and name of your shop, select an ideal location, and set a realistic opening date. It’s important to understand that initial investments can be significant. For example, launching a physical skate shop typically requires at least $50,000. This capital will cover most of your initial expense, from leasing your space to stocking up on initial inventory. 

Here are a list of expense that people tend to overlook:

  • Payroll (Estimate $2,160) – even without staff. Budget 20 minimum wage hours/week for 3 months. This covers you, potential staff, or contractors. Emergencies arise, and you’ll be glad you have these funds.
  • Store Sign (Estimate $3,000) – this includes permit fees, fabrication, and installation. Permits are required for most signs, even simple ones. Avoid fines and delays by budgeting for signage upfront.
  • Build out (Estimate $2,000 – $8,000) – Don’t fall into the “we can do it ourselves” trap with build-out. Trust me, even slapping on a coat of paint can quickly turn into a multi-day process with unexpected trips to Home Depot. Don’t forget about the lunch breaks of ordering pizza or other food too! Get quotes from professionals before you sign a lease. This will save you a ton of headaches (and takeout bills) down the line.
    Helpful Tip: For accurate quotes, get a contractor you trust, then schedule a visit (ideally with your landlord) for the most precise estimate.
  • Tech Essentials ($1,500) – POS system, internet, phone, security system (ADT or similar), and surveillance cameras.  Don’t skimp on security – you’ll thank yourself later.
    Don’t forget about those computer programs that you’ll need such as Adobe (marketing/advertising), Quickbooks, website host, etc.
  • Lawyer ($1,000 – $5,000) – Get a lawyer to review your lease before you sign. Take it from me, as a business owner with multiple skateparks and shops under my belt, let me tell you: leases favor landlords, and you want to fully understand everything. Skate shops are different beasts – skateboarding’s inherently loud (think wheels clacking, music pumping, skater hangouts). Even “no skate” signs won’t deter everyone. You need to ensure the lease allows the noise, activity, and potential for outdoor skating. Remember, boards are loud, planned or not. Address this upfront to avoid future headaches with your neighbors – trust me, I’ve seen it all before.
  • Insurance ($1,000 – $2,000) – This covers your initial down payment, not the full monthly cost. Depending on your lease (lawyer review it!), you might need a policy between $1 million and $3 million. What you want insured will also impact your premium.
  • The Most Important Investment: Yourself ($500 – $3,000) –  Never stop learning! Whether it’s buying books or subscribing to business newsletters, continual learning is crucial. Consider investing in a business coach, mentorship program, or classes. Surround yourself with experienced individuals who have faced similar challenges and can offer guidance. This might seem expensive upfront, but it can save you thousands in the long run, preventing headaches and even potential business closure.

Keep in mind, These overlooked expenses are just the tip of the iceberg. There will be ongoing costs, and it can take 1-3 years to see a return on your investment if all goes according to plan.  Factor in your own salary as a business expense – you deserve to be paid for your hard work! This initial investment is essential to build a strong foundation for your long-term success.

2. Market Analysis – Understanding your target market is essential.  I suggest creating a Business Facebook Page before you even consider signing a lease. This will truly help gauge the interest in the area. Additionally, you’ll be able to begin creating a following and excitement prior to opening. Trust me, you want to ensure people know you’re opening before day one. The phrase “build it and they will come” doesn’t exist in business. I promise you that.

By having a Facebook Business Page, you’ll also be able to engage in conversations with people to gather the research you need on trends, products, services (maybe some people want lessons!), events, etc. This step not only helps you meet customer expectations but also helps set your business apart from competitors.

3. Legal Foundation – Registering your business as an LLC, obtaining necessary permits and licenses, and sorting out tax registrations are foundational tasks that ensure your business operates within legal frameworks. Don’t overlook the importance of business insurance to protect against potential liabilities. 

When it comes to registering your business, the process depends on your ownership structure.  For skate shops with one owner, online services like LegalZoom can be a convenient option. However, if you have a partner or plan a more complex business structure, hiring an attorney is highly recommended.  An attorney can advise you on the best setup for your specific goals.  For instance, if you have dreams of franchising your skate shop someday, incorporating in Delaware could offer tax advantages.

4. Start Investing – Invest in the aesthetics and functionality of your shop. Furnishings like couches, shelves, and skateboard racks can not only enhance the shopping experience but also effectively display your products, making them more appealing to potential buyers. 

5. Financial Management – Opening a dedicated bank account for your business helps in managing finances better and prepares you for potential expansion. It simplifies accounting and is generally a requirement for various business functionalities including receiving payments and paying suppliers. 

Also, sign up for a business credit card so that you are rewarded for your purchases as well as building your credit. See my blog about this here.

6. Connect with Distributors – Establishing relationships with distributors is key to getting the best deals on products such as decks, wheels, and apparel. Direct partnerships with distributors can significantly reduce costs and improve your profit margins compared to purchasing items from resellers. See my blog about this here.

Additionally, Consider creating your own line of skateboards, apparel, and accessories alongside established brands. This not only increases your profit margin but also helps you build a unique identity within the skate community.

7. Staffing – hiring employees with skateboarding knowledge can enhance customer service and improve operational efficiency. The size of your staff should reflect the scale of your operation and customer demand. Consider building a team with a mix of skateboarding experience and well-rounded retail experience.

Even if you’ll be the sole operator initially, factor in paying yourself an hourly wage or salary. Tracking your own work hours will give you valuable insight into future staffing needs. This helps you determine how many employees you might need down the line.

8. Marketing and Outreach – Effective marketing strategies can range from in-store branding like posters and signage to hosting community events to build a local following. Digital marketing should not be overlooked, as it’s critical in today’s market to connect with a broader audience. Remember, your marketing begins before you sign the leas.

9. Patience and Persistence – Not every day will yield high profits—seasonal fluctuations are normal in retail. Even SoCal shops experience seasonal ups and downs. Focus on reviewing weekly and monthly sales to avoid getting discouraged by daily fluctuations. Patience and a positive outlook are key to navigating slower periods.

10. Embracing Digital Platforms – Consider establishing an online shop to complement your physical store. This approach helps tap into a wider market and accommodates customers who prefer shopping online.

11. Planning for Growth – Future expansion could include adding new store locations or even branching out into related ventures like offering skate lessons or opening a small skatepark, similar to Skate The Foundry. This can enhance your brand’s presence and provide additional revenue streams.

How much can you earn from owning a skate shop?

According to an article by Alex Ryzhkov on Finmodellab, potential annual profit from a skateboard shop can range between $50,000 to $100,000 annually, though this can vary widely based on factors like location, market saturation, and operational efficiency. Rent, inventory costs, payroll, and marketing are among the chief expenses that can impact your bottom line. By following these steps and staying committed to your business strategy, you can successfully transform your passion for skateboarding into a profitable and rewarding business. 

Need Our Assistance? We’re here for you! Just drop us an email with any questions or if you need any assistance in starting your very own skate shop, and we’ll help you get started on how to begin.


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