Five Points Skate Shop
2787 East Main St.
Five Points Skate Shop is roughly 3000-square-feet and has been in business for close to 26 years. For the past 20 years Dave Balton has been the main man found behind the counter, and has helped grow the local skate scene by providing free maintenance and information on everything skateboarding. Balton has been skating since 1976 and can be found ripping his skateboard everyday in local skate parks.
We caught up with Balton to find out how the store is doing and what current trends he has been seeing in the world of retail.
What is the story behind opening up the shop?
The shop has been open since 1984, and there weren’t too many skate shops around at that time—most stuff was sold at bike stores —so [Brad Spann] the owner decided that he wanted to start selling skateboard stuff with a partner [Jimmy Clifford]. It was a lot different back then, there was only one shop in all of Ventura County.
Since the opening of the shop what lessons have you learned?
Stay true to yourself. That is the only way to succeed in this business, just keep it street and keep it real. Cater to real skateboarders. It’s kind of hard now because skateboarding is so gigantic, but it is just about staying true to skateboarding, knowing what you’re selling, and having real skateboarders selling skateboards.
How important has it been for you to sponsor skaters and why?
It used to be more important. Now, it’s like every kid wants to be sponsored. But I think it is important for the best guys in our area to know we are the real deal—a real skate shop, where they can come get there skateboard worked on
Have you noticed Mike Anderson signature product to move quicker than other?
His product does move very well, but it is because of Mike himself as a skateboarder and he is an awesome person. The coolest that I have been lucky enough to deal with in the 20 years I’ve been working here.
What major challenges have you overcome as a core skate shop?
Just getting business in the door as often as possible. With the Internet, big-time mall stores, and people with a lot of money opening shops with people that don’t skate it becomes a challenge at times.
When you are one little store it is hard to get people to keep coming in, but we have a good reputation.
Do you have an online store?
Not at the moment. We have thought about it a bunch of times, but with the downturn in the economy it was a little much to just dive in, and between getting it up and running with the three people that work full-time at the store it is hard to find the time.
Who are your top local competitors?
Within three blocks of us we have a mall with a Zumiez, Vans, PacSun, Mr. Rags, and there is a chain of skate shops called One Way that is here in town.
I think we have a harder time fighting with the Internet than anyone else. It is so easy to put the cursor on and click.
How do you anticipate your store doing for the next six to twelve months? What’s your strategy?
Same strategy as before—keep the stuff that is current here for people to buy, treat people how they should be treated, and keep skating—if we keep skateboarding core in Ventura we will stay alive.
What are the best selling brands in the shop right now?
For decks I’d say Krooked, Anti-Hero, and we also sell a lot of Creatures. All the guys are just trying to ride bigger boards in general.
For shoes, it would be éS and Emerica.
What are some current trends you are seeing in retail?
That is the hardest thing to put your finger on now.
It is so hard to look at product and know if it is going to hit or not, much harder than it was 5 or 10 years ago because of how wide-spread stuff is all across the board. Plus, with the economy right now, people don’t know what they are trying to spend their money on.
Usually, the newest thing is kind of what sells. If kids see it and are into it, they get it. If they think its old, they don’t want it.
In general I guess I’d say thinner, older style of shoes and plain graphics for clothing – more of a work-wear look.