Longboard Shop on Lower East Side Expands to Meet Sport's Growing Demand
LOWER EAST SIDE — Size matters at this skateboard shop.
The growing trend of longboarding — skateboarding on a longer, wider board that's more reminiscent of surfing — has forced one Lower East Side skate shop to expand to meet the demand of its increasing clientele.
"The growth of longboarding has been explosive," said Rob Perry, 34, manager of the Longboard Loft at 132 Allen St., an offshoot of Brooklyn-based Bustin Boards, which nearly doubled its retail space to accommodate the increase.
What was once a "fringe activity" is now a sport that is captivating everyone from lawyers and plumbers to the average skateboarder, Perry explained.
"It can turn a boring half-hour walk across Manhattan into a seven-minute adventure, or a trip across the Williamsburg Bridge into a snowboard-like downhill run," said Perry, who only picked up the sport himself a few years ago.
For downhill longboarders, who wear helmets and leather racing suits, they can reach speeds of up to 60 mph.
The Longboard Loft first opened in 250 square feet of space near Bustin Boards' warehouse in Williamsburg to give riders a retail option.
Then, in April 2011, the shop moved into 750 square feet at the Allen Street address before expanding again this month.
DeNell Todd, 50, a retail assistant at the store, said customers from all backgrounds come in to obsess over their longboards.
"We have guys who are electricians, guys who are pilots, plumbers," he said. "Some guys pull up with a Bentley."
The products at the store are also diverse. Customers can walk out with a street-ready ride for $170 to $2,000. A pair of expensive trucks, which connect the wheels to the board, can sell for $500.
Todd, who has been riding for five years and also got his kids involved in the sport, can be found most mornings in Central Park.
For Todd, longboarding in the city requires "hyper-awareness" — with texting pedestrians and skittish cabdrivers clearing his mind of any other distractions.
"You are not going to be thinking about anything," he said, "except where you are."