The previous owner and I started Infinity skateshop back in 1999. We wanted a skateshop in a location that no one else seemed to care about. Altered Skates was all the way up in U-City, and was the only legit shop in St. Louis back then. There was also Splash in West County and Crestwood, Mr. Rags in Crestwood Mall, and SOKA out in the Ballwin/Manchester area. Those were your only local choices to buy skateboards at the time. This was before skateboarding started to increase in popularity and receive mainstream attention in the 90s. There were no skate parks, no TV shows, and no Tony Hawk video games. We wanted to make the store as core as we could.
With the exception of Altered, every other place that sold skateboards was more worried about soft goods and shoes. If you don't know, there is more money in shoes and soft goods (clothing) than in hard goods (decks, trucks, wheels and the like). Ironically, since companies that deal in soft goods are frequently image conscious and wish to attract a certain market (in this case, skateboarders), most require that a shop carry hard goods in order to open an account.
We decided that we didn't want companies like DC and Volcom because they were starting to branch out to other things that didn't seem skateboard related to us: typically malls, mall culture, and mass media. We left such brands alone and aimed more at hard goods. Perhaps not the best business strategy, but it was the stuff we knew most about, the stuff we cared about. After all, you need a skateboard to go skateboarding, not new clothes.
The first three years were the worst. I don't want to bash on the previous owner, but he didn't do the greatest job of running a shop. After 3 years the previous owner decided it was best to step down. The store was in bad shape by this time. There were few decks on the wall, and we were falling fast. So the previous owner called it quits on May 31st and I took over the shop on my own on June 1st - Exactly 3 years after we opened. I sold everything I had to help fund the rehab of this shop. And for the last 6 years I have put everything I have into it. I think it shows.
With the rehab, I started to focus more on soft goods without sacrificing my beliefs. The shop went from having no shoes, to having over 90 styles, from 75 decks to over 300. You get the picture. We have done what no other shop in St. Louis has done: We have survived by carrying only core skate products, and having only skateboard customers. We know that the majority of our customers actually skateboard. They are not here to pick up trendy shoes or clothing to "look the part" because they are the part. We have not had extra help by carrying snowboards, bikes, rollerblades, roller-skates, paintball guns, and mall clothing, and I am proud to say that we have never carried those things. This, and the fact that we are the only skateboarder owned and operated shop in St Louis should make people proud of buying product from us and supporting us. If you are a skateboarder, please consider where you spend your money. What stores are more likely to give back to the skateboarding community, a core store owned by skaters? Or stores owned by people that don't skate, and are only concerned with making money?
I am very thankful for all of your support over the last nine years. And I am 100% sure we will be celebrating our 10th year next June. I want to thank you again. You have no idea what it means to me. Infinity isn't just a job to me, it's my life.
Owner of Infinity Skate Shop