Shop name: Skatepark of Tampa.
Year shop opened: January 1, 1993.
Owner’s name: Brian Schaefer.
Your name and job title: Owner. I do a little bit of nothing.
Are you still involved in the day-to-day operation of the shop?
No, I’m more on the creative side. I just work with everybody. I’m a little bit of everything, which doesn’t really give me a title.
That’s okay, titles are overrated.
I piss off everybody and just show up for the cool events (laughs).
Address: 4215 East Columbus Drive, Tampa, Florida 33614
Phone: (813) 621-6793
Monday-Thursday: One session from 12:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Friday: One session from 12:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.
Saturday: Two sessions from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.
Sunday: Two sessions from 10:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. (age 12 and under only, full pads required) and 2:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. (BMX allowed 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.)
Wednesday: BMX allowed.
BMX always allowed on the outside ramps.
Summer/Holiday/Spring Break Hours:
Monday-Thursday: Two sessions from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: Two sessions from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.
Sunday: Two sessions from 10:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. (age 12 and under only, full pads required) and 2:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. (BMX allowed from 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.)
How did your website get so big?
It just kind of developed, because the Webmaster, Rob Meronek, is 100% skateboarder and a super computer genius. So, it slowly turned into more than just a simple page for information. It kind of turned into a web magazine. We travel so much now, and we’re fortunate enough to bring everybody with us to document all of the events and traveling. Once again, Rob is so good on the computer, it all comes together very easily. Rob is a one-man machine who is able to manage it directly on his own with a little bit of our input.
Have you ever got in trouble for anything that’s on your website?
Minorly. We always go through small hassles with people who don’t appreciate our opinions, stories or comments. We try to keep it PG-13 and stay politically correct, but sometimes we have to go above and beyond that, and sometimes people don’t like it.
How’s the shop doing?
The shop’s doing great. We’ve doubled in size just over the last year. We’ve also been doing mail order for two years, and that’s totally growing just like the website slowly grew.
Who is your typical customer?
I’d say our typical customer is more skateboarding-oriented, for the most part. But, our shop’s big now, and we’re able to accommodate a lot more apparel and shoes. Since we also get outside customers, our shoe sales tend to dominate, but I would say 60% of our customers skate here.
How old is your typical customer? Older than at other places?
I don’t really have a general consenus of the age bracket that is shopping out there, but the ages we usually get range anywhere from 10 to 18. But then we have an older crowd, too—mostly older than super-young, but it all varies. Since we’re also a park, it’s not just the one kid that casually likes skating or is just a fair weather fan, we have some dedicated people that have been skateboarding for a long time.
Do you have any shoplifting stories for us?
Back in the day, you’d feel bad about stealing from the gang that you were a part of, but over the years, as you know, skateboarding has become more mainstream. So, we do get the occasional shoplifting kids coming through here. Right now, we have a no tolerance policy. If we catch somebody stealing, we call the cops. We’ve actually called them several times. Sometimes our locals also rough the shoplifters up enough to where we just kick them out and don’t call the cops.
Do you get any crazy people coming in off the street?
We have our vagrants that are always outside in the parking lot trying to sell everyone “used” radios. We constantly have cars broken into, and we get our occasional psycho kid that comes through the door. We have to lay him straight, call his parents and put him in therapy. We basically try to rehabilitate some of the locals that really need serious help.
Any specific stories?
I can’t really think of them, there have been so many. There are all types of stories. You name it, it’s happened here at the skatepark over the twelve years that we’ve been in business.
Which are the most popular skate videos currently playing in the shop?
You could probably guess them. The éS Menikmati video. Not because I’m giving an éS interview here. Most of the TransWorld videos do good. The CKY videos are always popular—they were the most highly requested back in the day. The Girl Yeah Right video was good—that lasted for a while. That’s all I can think of off the top of my head.
What special events do you do?
We do special events like the Game of SKATE we just did with you guys at éS. We’re constantly doing video premieres, we have a projector and a screen set up. We just did the Volcom Chichagof one. We also have an art gallery where we try to show different artists every other month. We’re starting to do punk rock shows again a couple of times a month in the art gallery. It’s a separate area, so it’s smaller now. Last Saturday, we had a punk rock show with four bands, and 70 people showed-up throughout the night, so it was actually successful. We’ll see where it goes. Hopefully, we can just keep moving forward with it and see how it progresses.
What sort of future events do you have planned?
Anything big—other than the Tampa Am and Tampa Pro—is not good. We’re kind of maxed out with our space. Our future goals are just to grow the shop, the park and sustain what we do and make it better. Maybe we’ll need more space in the future and have to re-arrange everything, because everyone comes here and says, “Hey, wow. I thought the park was much bigger than this.” We’d like to be able to accommodate everyone a little bit better—spectators and skaters—and build a bigger and better course. That is the most important thing.
Who are your shop or park team riders?
We have a whole list, actually. Brian Howard, Paul Zitzer, Anthony Furlong, Matt Milligan, Elissa Steamer, Ed Selego, Jeff Lenoce—those are just the pros. We just added Kyle Berard to the team. We also sponsor bunch of upcoming amateurs like Ian Gow, Abdias Revera and some other local ams that will hopefully make a dent in the rest of the world, kind of like how Selego, Lenoce and people that ride for the pro team did.
Are there any local riders flowed by éS Sales Reps or on team flow?
I don’t keep track of who is riding for who, for the most part, because we have so many guys that ride for our team, and so many employees. But, Mike Andruszko definitely hooks up the employees and some of the local kids when needed, just to keep them going. He always participates in everything we do over here at SPoT.
Well, that’s good to hear. Mike’s a good guy. What’s the best part of running a skate shop?
The best and worst part is being self-employed and having a business that actually runs itself, so the owner can actually goof off and be a loser when he wants.
So, that’s the best part?
The best and worst part.
Why is that also the worst part?
I don’t know, because you can take advantage of it, if you want to. No, the best part about it is being able to do what I’ve always wanted to do with the right people, and the employees. Ryan Clements and I are partners on the property, actually—it makes it good to work with people that really make a difference. Pretty much working, having the park and self-motivated employees is the key to making everything run a lot better, where you don’t have to do everything yourself. It’s the American dream, in a sense.
Which éS shoes sell the best in your shop?
I don’t have the answer for that one. I’m not involved enough with the shop sales all the time, so it’s really hard to keep track. If it were up to me, I’d be able to give you all the answers regarding the stuff that I like, but that won’t help.
What’s the best part about éS?
Just seeing the company grow like it has and being involved with people like yourself and those that I’ve known in skateboarding throughout the years. You’ve got Paul Lowes, Mike Andrussko and everybody associated with éS that I’ve met who give SPoT support, which is great. But, the best part of éS is that it’s still supporting the true skateboarders out there.