By Erik Badia
When thinking of skateboarding, images of southern California may pop into your head — beautiful people, warm weather, palm trees. Long Island is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. However, the skateboarding industry in this area is strong and vibrant. If you are in your twenties or older, you have probably seen your share of skaters, skate parks, and skate shops rise and fall. Even though there are skate shops in Long Island that are relatively new, several have been around for many years and are staples in the Long Island skating community. They continue to support, sponsor, and equip thousands of local Long Island skaters.
For residents of Nassau County, the list of skate shops is not only extensive but includes several high quality, full service stores. Jeff of I.N.S. Boards in Cedarhurst (call them at (516) 792-3165 or log on to insbaords.com) says his shop provides "friendly service" and a full line of top-notch skateboards and apparel. In addition to being a fully equipped service center, I.N.S. provides sponsorship for local skaters and an exclusive service that, according to Jeff, is "very popular" — custom image grip tape jobs.
In Valley Stream, Mass Transit (call them at (516) 561-2521 or log on to masstransitny.com) retails a wide array of skateboards and apparel in an upscale setting, and is also a full service facility. “We are Nassau County’s premier exclusive skateboard shop, we have been in business for three and a half years and business is strong,” reported Tom, owner of the popular facility.
On Jericho Turnpike in Mineola you can find Mineola Bicycle Fitness Mower (contact them at (516) 742 5253). While that title may be an unusual name for a skate shop, rest assured that this multi-purpose store can provide anything you need to give your skateboarding habit a fix. Audrey, owner of Mineola Bicycle Fitness Mower, said that the skateboarding portion of her business has "grown quite a bit in the last four years." She reported that they are open seven days a week and carry everything from sneakers to helmets, and can build or repair any skateboard.
Doug at District Board Shop in Massapequa (call them at (516) 797-5216) reported that he carries hot brands such as Zero, Enjoi, Almost, and many others. Doug also sponsors local skaters and strives to keep his young customers safe. District carries equipment and apparel, as well as being a full service facility.
According to Mercedes of Off Beat Skate Shop in Long Beach (call them at (516) 431-4306), you can find more than just skateboards at this hip local store. In addition to selling exclusive high-end skateboard parts, accessories, and apparel, "we do art shows with local and national tattoo and graffiti artists." Off Beat also sells exclusive spray paints and carries an extensive line of sneakers.
Bodega Skateboards in Bellmore (bodegaskateboards.com) is Long Island’s distributor of Bodega skateboarding equipment and apparel, in business since 1996. Oscar of Bodega said they supply Long Island skate shops such as Special Sauce, Rick’s Action Sports, and many others. While the majority of Bodega’s business is wholesale, they do offer online shopping for the public on their website. In addition, Bodega sponsors a large skate team, including well-known rider John Reeves.
Skaters in western Suffolk County have their share of quality shops as well. Huntington Village is home to two skateboard shops within one mile. Heli Sport (call (631) 549-1127) offers a unique variety of outdoor equipment and apparel, and it is no slouch when it comes to skateboards. The Board Shop (boardshop1.com, (631) 424 7873) on Main Street has 7,000 square feet of snowboards, surfboards, wakeboards, skateboards, and apparel. The Board Shop also features trained technicians and sales people that ride what they sell.
Xtreme Surf And Sport in (Xtremesurfandsport.com, (800) 877 4602) is 5,500 square feet of everything surf, snow, and skate. According to Tony, owner of Xtreme, "We are the largest shop on the Island, as far as products go." Tony says that on any given day, Xtreme will have between 200 and 250 boards in stock as well as everything from bearings to grip tape. "Anything that's hot, we have it in stock," adds Tony. In addition to the latest products, Tony says Xtreme also has an "old-school" section with many vintage boards. Xtreme has been in business for 12 years and offers surf and skating lessons, and sponsors local skaters.
Perhaps the best known as well as the most established skate shop in the Island is Special Sauce (specialsauce.com, (631) 666 3290) in Bay Shore. Founded in 1994, this purveyor of skate, surf, and snowboards now has three retail locations. Pete from Special Sauce says that European skating is much different than traditional U.S./west coast-style skating. He wanted to bring that European feel to his store, so Pete imported lines such as Cliché from France and began retailing them. Special Sauce naturally carries all of the top brands of skateboards and apparel such as D&K, Baker, Chocolate, Girl, and many more. Special Sauce also has a local skateboarding team, and Pete reported that a fair share of skateboard pros were developed in this area – renowned pro skater Gino Iannucci is from Westbury, while superstar Anthony Pappalardo hales from Massapequa. Both make sporadic appearances at Special Sauce.
Grind Skateboard Shop (grind-skateshop.com, (631) 285-7812) in Ronkonkoma features a huge line of equipment and apparel. Marc from Grind says that they are "all about skateboarding. It's got to have four wheels; we don't do anything with bikes, etc." Grind has a full skate team with many riders, and they hold regular events at the store. "We'll put out a rail and box or a ramp," says Marc. However, he says that Grind has a new full skate park facility in the works and that construction has already begun. "The park will be about three blocks from the current shop and should be completed by mid-September." Marc says that their customers ride right through the winter as well, "If there isn't snow on the ground, they're on the board." So to keep the customers coming in during the colder months, Grind will bring in video games and host events in the store. Rick's Action Sports in East Islip (ricksactionsportsandsurfshop.com, (631) 581-2299) can help any skater – from novice or a pro – with everything from entry level "completes" (completely assembled boards) to top-of-the-line equipment. Rick's also carries a full line of apparel, as well as all of the latest skating DVDs.
For those of you on the east end, there are several excellent skate shops sprinkled throughout the area. Jeremy from Skidmore's Sports And Styles in Hampton Bays (skidmoresports.bizland.com, (631) 728-0066) says that his store "carries everything for skateboards." Apparel, equipment, and hardware are not the only items available for the avid skater. "We repair and fully build skateboards as well."
Khanh, owner of Khanh Sports in East Hampton (khanhsports.com, (631) 324-0703), is living the dream: "I'm a skater myself. I've been skating since I was a young kid." Now, Khanh has set up shop 10 minutes from the local skate park and equips local skaters with everything they need. Khanh says they have a big selection and "We try to do it all, so that any kid can come in and get what they need." They also carry GFH Minis for younger skaters and the unique Carve boards.
For skaters who live at "the end," Air & Speed Surf Shop in Montauk serves both skaters and surfers on the far east end. Stew at Air & Speed says that even though "business has slowed down the last few years," they continue to carry skateboarding equipment and service. The proprietor says they have seen a lot of action with other types of skating, "so now we carry quite a bit of long boards."
Anyone who has skated in Long Island during the last 10 years knows the state of skate parks is volatile, to say the least. Over the years, dozens of parks have vanished – but there are still a handful of bona fide skate parks, indoor and outdoor, in the area.
Inline 1 Extreme, an independently owned park in Mount Sinai (inline1.com, (631) 474-2900) is a climate-controlled 34,000 square foot multipurpose facility with a roller hockey arena, outdoor skate park, pro shop, and deli. Tom, a partner in Inline 1 Extreme, says the outdoor skate park is “the largest in the tri-state area.” Tom says the entire park is constructed with Skatelite, which is very fast and smooth. Inline 1 also has “X Camp,” a skating camp for kids ages five and up. According to Tom, “kids will train with the best,” and their camp instructors have ridden with pros such as Tony Hawk. Their pro shop offers a large selection of equipment and apparel, and the deli has a full selection of reasonably priced snacks and meals.
Possibly the best known skate park on Long Island is Oil City Skate Park in Oceanside (oilcitysk8.com, (516) 594-1888). Oil City has been in business five years and continues to provide skaters from around the Island with a superb arena for skating. The 15,000 square foot indoor facility is one-of-a-kind in the area, with a 12-foot vertical ramp, seven-foot half pipe, a four-foot mini-ramp, and a full street course featuring rails, ramps, boxes, and a pyramid. Membership and protective pads are required to skate, and packages from five sessions to full-year unlimited sessions are available. The park is open seven days a week and the schedule includes BMX only sessions, Monday nights from 7 to 11pm and Friday nights from 11pm to 1 am. Open skating is from 4 to 10 pm Tuesday through Thursday, 4 to 11pm Friday, 11am to 11pm Saturday, and 11 am to 7 pm on Sunday.
On Moores Lane in Greenport (greenportvillage.com, (631) 477-1133), the town has built a skate park that is open to skateboarders, inline skaters, and BMXers. The outdoor park features a 12-foot vert-ramp and two mini-ramps that are connected by the spine, tabletops, and a street course with ledges and rails. Greenport Skate Park is not a free park; annual membership and day passes are available. Helmets are required, pads are not.
For skaters at the far end of the Island, there is Montauk City Skate Park on South Essex Street in Montauk (call them at (631) 324-2417). This outdoor park is all concrete and features a nine-foot kidney shaped pool as well as half pipes with rail copings. The park is open from March through December and is free for Hamptons and Montauk residents. For out-of-towners, it is $11 for the day. Helmets and pads are required, which is wise, given the rough surface of this park.
South shore residents should try Baldwin Skate Park at 3232 South Grand Avenue (townofhempstead.org, (516) 379-3779). This town-owned skate park is an 11,000 square-foot outdoor facility featuring a smooth skating surface, 12-foot quarter pipes, a half pipe, launch ramp, street spine, and partial pyramid with a wall and rails. With bleachers for spectators, you can bring your friends and family along as well.
For those of you in the Hamptons, be sure to check out Red Creek Skate Park, located at 102 Old Riverhead Road in Hampton Bays (town.southampton.ny.us, (631) 728-8585). This asphalt-based 15,000 square-foot outdoor facility is owned by the Town of Southampton and features a street course, vert walls, half pipes and an above-ground bowl as well as a beginner's section. Helmets and full padding are required for skating. Red Creek is not a free facility—annual passes as well as day passes are available.
The Town of Riverhead Skate Park is another excellent town-owned outdoor facility, located in Stotzky Park on Pulaski St. in Riverhead (call them at (631) 208 3826). Riverhead is open to inline skaters, skateboards, and BMXers (BMXers get independent sessions) and features a 13,500 square-foot expert area with a wide array of equipment including half pipes, quarter pipes, fun boxes, mini-ramps, and a street course with rails, planters and speed bumps. There is also an 8,000 square-foot beginner’s area with the appropriate equipment. The park requires helmets and full pads, and is open through September 1, Tuesday through Sunday. The park is not free, however; daily and annual passes are available.