For the skaters, by the skaters
Bobby Ingle, Tom Sorci and Todd the Barber
The MTV spotlights, the obstacles (mega ramp, anyone?), the paychecks—skateboarding is huge. Yet in this fast-paced and deluded world of skateboarding, there’s still room for three skaters to open their own shop and hold ground against the savage storm of mall/Internet stores—even with an imploding economy? I spoke with Nine16 skate shop (east of Midtown at 3200 Folsom Boulevard) owners Bobby Ingle, Tom Sorci and Todd the Barber about new boards, where to skate some stuff and even a place for a good haircut. That’s right: It’s a skate shop and a barber shop.
Parents see Tony Hawk winning gold medals and think, “My kid can make a living skating”?
Ingle: It’s exciting kids can make a living doing that! When we started, your top pro was just barely getting by doing what they love to do. That’s what it still should be, but it’s exciting that there’s enough money in skateboarding to where a kid can aspire to be a professional skateboarder for a living.
Will skateboarding go back to its roots, once there’s no more money to be sucked out of it?
Ingle: It would be nice to see it go back to that, but there’s that trade-off again. But it will always be grassroots. There’s kids in crummy neighborhoods with horrible families, and skateboarding’s all they got. They live to skate.
Todd the Barber: It’s that rush you get from skating. Once you feel it, you’ll be hooked and go out of your way to make sure you have money for that new board.
Sorci: All these industries, like car businesses or expensive clothes, are going out of business. We’re not pushing hundred-dollar stereos or whatever. Boards are 50 bucks, max. A skater isn’t going to hold out on buying a new board if he’s low on cash.
Ingle: Our stuff is affordable, shitty economy or not. We’re not trying to get rich off nothing; we’re just in it for the love. Especially more than anything, it’s about camaraderie. The longest relationships I’ve had are the people I skated with. You meet up with people you haven’t seen in years, you go skating again, it brings you right back. Skating keeps you young, whether you’re 14 or 40. You can’t replace that with anything. That’s why we started this. I come to work and spend the day with my two best friends in the world doing what we love to do. That’s why the shop’s called Nine16, we want to represent everything Sac and the people here.
Sorci: We don’t only own the shop, but we’re out there with these kids all the time. We don’t hide at home; we skate every day with them and we want to give these kids a home and provide a positive atmosphere.
Ingle: Skateboarding is just an outlet. You put your energy into it, and you get something positive out of it, and that’s the image I want skateboarding to portray everywhere it goes.
So when did youguys decide to opena skate shop?
Ingle: I’ve been skating with Tom for going on 20 years, and we’ve been talking about doing this since we were 12 or 13. It’s always been a dream of ours. It got to the point where we got the cash and decided to make the move. Todd’s been skating with us forever, too; we all grew up on the same street. We’ve talked about it for days, and Todd’s been cutting hair for seven years, so we thought, “Let’s open a skate/barbershop. That’d be tight!” About eight months ago, we started looking for retail locations. We got into it in this shit time when everyone else is going out of business, so we got some prime choices. This ended up being the perfect spot for us.
It’s legit. It looks like a skater’s skate shop.
Ingle: For sure, that’s what we want it to feel like when you come in. We want everyone to feel welcome. You don’t have to spend money when you come in; we’ll just put on a skate video and hang out.
With our economy, how do you think these skate shops will be affected?
Ingle: The shops that are already in existence will be affected more than us, just because we started when a lot of places were going out of business, so we got a smoking deal on our retail spot. I’ve got some reactions from people in the industry though, like, “You’re starting a skate shop in the worst economy in 80 years? What are you thinking?”(Laughs.)
It’s just a leap of faith. We get really good feedback from the local community and all the local skaters around Sac. Very few skate shops are actually run by skaters now. The work here was done by us and bros. One of our buddies is an electrician; he came here and wired all our stuff. It was all a community effort.
Skateboarding as an industry has gotten away from that. The amount of cutthroat activity going on from shop to shop, we’re not involved in that. If you skate, we got the common ground. Skateboarding wasn’t popular when we started 20 years ago. We skated in the Safeway parking lot and got chased out by the cops every day. Since the X Games, though, skateboarding has become more accepted.