Shop name: Escapist.
Year shop opened: May 2000.
Owners' names: Dan Askew, Adrian Frost, Nick Owen.
Your name and job title: Nick: Nick Owen, Co-Owner, jack of all trades.
Dan: Dan Askew, Co-Owner, multi-tasker, definitely a little bit of everything. I try to balance working in the store with handling behind-the-scenes stuff like setting up special events, advertising and flyering said events and getting press involved, building our Web site and updating it, designing and ordering Escapist product such as t-shirts, decks, etc,, as well as Team Manager stuff like getting our guys additional sponsors. Then there’s also helping with the books, checking in product, doing transfers to each store, the list--and the work day--just never ends, really. Owning a skate shop can definitely be a 24-hour job, as there’s always something that needs to be done.
Adrian is absent because he’s probably the worst person with email. If this interview was in-person, it would be a completely different story. That dude can hold a conversation about any given topic. His brain is a sponge. He handles store management and all the things that come along with that: books and number crunching. He’s a mathlete. He does inventory, displays and transfers, customer service and all the tedious, time-consuming tasks that come along with that, which no one ever realizes needs to be done when starting a shop.
Address: Two locations - 234 NE Barry Road, Kansas City, Missouri 64155, phone (816) 436-2504 and 11648 W 135th Street, Overland Park, Kansas 66221, phone (913) 814-7587
Shop hours: Monday-Thursday 12-8, Friday 12-7, Saturday 11-6, closed Sunday.
Web site: Escapist.
Adrian Frost, Nick Owen and Dan Askew.
How's the shop doing?
Nick: Pretty good. Things can fluctuate a lot, as I’m sure you’re well aware. We’re getting ready to move our Kansas City store, so we’re really excited about that. We have some great ideas for it.
Dan: Roll with the punches, baby! The skateboard industry has always had constant ups and downs. That’s what weeds out the people whose hearts aren’t in it, and it also serves as a nice reminder to the companies that core shops got them to where they are and support them even when skateboarding isn’t cool, and that they shouldn’t forget that. I almost welcome the death of skateboarding once again. Many people in the industry are saying that is where things are heading. What’s important is to still be there, giving the kids a place to go and supporting the scene, even through the tough times. But yeah, like Nick said, we’re really excited about our move. The location is about a billion times better, with great visibility and high traffic. It will be really good to be in a space like that for a change.
Dan and Adrian.
Who is your typical customer?
Nick: Skateboarders. We used to get a lot of non-skateboarders wanting to look like skateboarders, but it’s pretty much solely skateboarders now since PacSun opened down the street.
Dan: Yeah, we deal primarily with the core kids in the scene, kids who are out there skating every day. It’s cool to be dealing with kids you’re skating with at the park all day, and hopefully they feel the same way about coming into a shop where the owners skate and actually know what they’re talking about. It definitely has more of a communal vibe to it, and there’s something to be said about knowing people by name.
Do you have any interesting shoplifting stories?
Nick: Yeah, it seems like they’re all pretty funny. Adrian chased some kid down that stole shoes. He was on foot and had to walk home in his socks, because he had left his old shoes in the shop. I've seen some younger kids get smacked around a bit by their parents when the police release them.
Dan: Yeah, it’s really funny when people get mad at you when they stole from your shop. This one kid’s dad kept trying to get us to allow him back in the shop and was offended when we wouldn’t. It’s like, â€œDude, your kid is a thief, get him out of here!â€ But yeah, there’s definitely been some incidents. There was a kid who used to come around a lot who stole some shoes and I randomly ran into him at a skatepark…wearing the shoes! I made him hand them over, because I wasn’t about to sit there and watch him have a good time wearing my shoes! I told him he had until the end of the day to pay for them or we would turn the tape over to the cops. The funny thing was, the shoe was on close-out for around $35, but we charged him the full retail price of $70…and Adrian still turned him into to the cops. Ha-ha.
Do you get any crazy people coming in off the street?
Nick: Just the other day, some guy came in claiming that he went to school with Adrian, but they didn’t know any of the same people, and he kept insisting that Adrian help him with shoes. We found out he had come in a week earlier talking about where he went to school and asking Adrian where he went, which wasn’t the same place. Weird, right? The dude was in his 40s.
Name the most popular skate videos currently playing in the shop.
Dan: Enjoi Bag Of Suck, Baker Baker 3, Zero New Blood: Special Edition, Blueprint Lost and Found, TransWorld A Time To Shine. Also, a local vid called Through Being Nice! featruing Sean Malto, Ernie Torres and a lot of other dudes who skate for us. It’s for sale on our Web site.
Nick: Emerica This Is Skateboarding, Habitat Mosiac.
Dan. Photo by Sam Smith.
Do you do any special events like video premieres, signings or demos?
Dan: Definitely, we’ve done demos with Real, Toy Machine, Girl/Chocolate, Zero, Zoo York, Foundation, Hollywood and probably a few others I’m spacing right now. I always loved going to demos as a kid, and still love when pros come through. It feels good being able to have a hand in carrying on that tradition and exposing the new generation to the skateboarding world. We do video premieres, as well…set up a projector, rent chairs and crank the surround sound. It’s a pretty nice set-up, and kids love seeing the vids before they come out.
Do you have any future events coming up?
Dan: We just did Emerica’s Wild Ride and the éS Game of SKATE. Girl/Chocolate is next week, with a few others that are tentative. (éS team, come out…hint, hint.) Plus we’ve got an Escapist teaser vid called Ante dropping soon, and we’ll do a premiere for that. We're doing a few skatepark openings, as well.
Are there any skateparks near your shop?
Dan: Yeah, but it’s pretty busted these days. It was the first park in the Kansas City area. Local contractors, who obviously didn’t know the first thing about building a skatepark, built it. They used angle iron for coping in the bowls and round coping for the ledges. There are quite a few parks out here now, though. Of course, they all have something wrong with them, though, like wavy trannies, coping issues, poor design, etc. The Overland Park store has a park right by it that seems to be really popular, even though the trannies are lumpy and wavy, because it’s one of the only parks that's lit up at night and the flat is really smooth.
Nick: Yeah, there are parks by both of our shops and all over the Kansas City area. But, pretty much all of the parks suck, for the most part.
Who are your shop team riders?
Nick: Sean Malto, Ernie Torres, Ryan Pearce, JW Hall, Arthur Dachiardi, Justin Hackel, Joseph Lopez, Garrett Olinger, Max Chilen, Mike Webb, Spencer Benavides, Corey Lawrence and us owners, if that counts. We’ve got a full Team section on the Web site, with bios, photos and video that’s updated often. It’s been great seeing these kids come up since they were little runts and turn into seasoned rippers. Malto definitely has a bright future ahead of him, and, of course, Ernie is quickly becoming an established pro. These dudes are on a mission, for sure. Keep your eyes out for Ryan Pearce. That kid is amazing.
We’ll have a full-length video out late next year. What I like most about the team is they all rip, but they’re also cool people--really level-headed instead of just a collection of random kids who came in with good sponsor-me tapes and are only out to get free stuff and don’t necessarily care from whom they get it. We like to keep it tight-knit and family-like. We all skate together. A lot of kids don’t understand that there’s more to getting sponsored than just your skills on a skateboard. Personality and outlook on skateboarding are just as important. Nobody likes to hear a list of tricks you did every time they see you. Let your skating do the talking.
Nick. Photo by Sam Smith.
Do you have any shop team riders who are flowed by éS Sales Reps or team flow?
Nick: Arthur Dachiardi just started getting some éS rep flow, and he’s psyched. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him skate anything other than the Accel in the six years I’ve known him.
What's the best part of running a skate shop?
Dan: Hot moms.
Nick: Demos are the best/worst.
Dan: Really, though, although many things are irritating about running a shop, which can easily make you bitter, what makes it all worth it in the end is just being involved in something you love and being able to pass it along to the next generation. It keeps me heavily involved with the skateboard industry, which in turn probably keeps me skating more than I might otherwise. But then again, who knows? I could definitely be spending more time skating if I had a job where I clocked out at 5:00 and left my worries at the office. The best part definitely isn’t the money, that’s for sure.
Which éS shoes sell the best in your shop?
Dan: The Accel, beause it's a classic and it's still the best skate shoe after all these years.
Nick: The Accel. It's simple and low-priced, with good style and no frills.
What's the best part about éS?
Nick: It's a true skate company with a good team and a good image.
Dan: The steez, of course! Ha! No, the solid team and solid skate shoes.
Taylor Corner (third from left) learns how to grip a board.