SHOPTALK: Los Altos Skateworks opens as popular place for teens by Mary Beth Hislop
James Anderson peruses the skateboards that adorn the wall of the new Skateworks on State Street in downtown Los Altos. There’s a new board on the block at 379 State St. with the soft opening of Jason Strubing’s Skateworks. And with school out and warm summer weather in, the shop nestled between Jolie Madame Salon and FastFrame is already a cool place for teens and others to hang and check out the latest trends in skateboards, wheels and protective body gear.
With Peet’s Coffee & Tea a few doors down, the future opening of Oregon-based Little Big Burger at 363 State, a bike store rumored to be setting up shop nearby and summer’s Thursday Farmers’ Market, Strubing said he hopes Skateworks will breathe new life into downtown.
“I think those will be great, complementary businesses,” he said. “The response so far – from young and old – is a two-thumbs up.”
First established in Boulder Creek in 1988, Strubing’s family later moved the business to Santa Cruz, where it remains, and tried other locations on the Peninsula. Another location in Redwood City recently closed.
“That was sort of the catalyst for this store,” Strubing said.
Custom-designed boards of all shapes and sizes line the walls inside – many created by his brother, Justin Strubing, a professional skateboarder. Customers can purchase boards with wheels already attached, or mix and match wheels to boards for their own designs.
Helmets, shoes and elbow and knee pads line another wall, necessary gear for anyone four-wheeling on two legs and a piece of wood. Still, all the armor wasn’t enough to protect 14-year-old James Anderson from a serious scraping to his left shoulder.
“They don’t make shoulder pads,” Anderson said. “I was wearing a tank top.”
Anderson said his wipeout was due to speed wobbles, a condition created when a skater drags a foot alongside the board to slow and steer. And though his dad was a little mad about the accident, it was his mom who told him about Skateworks. He visited the shop last week with his pals Colin McGrath, 18, and Tim Maddalena, 14.
McGrath, a skateboarder for four years, has advice for Anderson, who is two years into boarding.
“You need a one-piece leather suit.” McGrath said. “When you fall, it feels like you’re falling on cushions.”
Maddalena said Skateworks is a great place to visit and share stories with others into the sport.
“All the people coming here are interested in skating,” he said. “We usually just went to Walgreens to get food.”
And Skateworks is a great place to pick up tips, McGrath said.
“You meet some pretty interesting people who have their own lingo and a strong sense of skating fashion,” he said.
The most interesting thing McGrath has worn skating – “my Spartan outfit and a suit and tie at graduation.”
All three Los Altos residents are quick to point out their boards, etched in at all corners.
“If there weren’t these cutouts, the wheels would be hitting the boards,” Maddalena said.
One Los Altos mom checking out the inventory said she was glad to see the shop open.
“The extra spin is – this is open and it’s full with people of all ages,” she said.
So far, the most popular items are longboards, Strubing said, because Los Altos doesn’t have a skate park.
“With longboards, you don’t need a skate park per se – just hills or flat land,” he said.
Strubing said he supports a skateboard park for youth in Los Altos, a project currently in the city’s pipeline.
“I would like to add my energy to that – to give to that,” he said.
And Los Altos residents needn’t worry that skateboarders will converge on their city.
“All the cities down the Bay have their own skate parks,” Strubing said.
In the meantime, Strubing’s father, Bill, oversees the Santa Cruz shop, and his mother, Paula, manages the accounting. For now, Strubing is fine-tuning the shops’ hours, currently open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.
“I have noticed that the town really does shut down after six,” he said.
In the meantime, Los Altos Mayor Ron Packard will lead a ribbon-cutting ceremony, scheduled noon Friday, as Strubing continues to stock the shop with more inventory in preparation for Skateworks’ grand opening 11 a.m. Saturday.
“It’s a good thing, indeed,” he said.
For more information, visit www.skateworks.com.