Denver Skate Scene, 2015 Dew Tour Shop Showdown, and Continuing Growth

Name: 303 Boards

Location(s): 1338 East Colfax Denver, CO

Owner/Mgr.: Sam Schuman

# of storefronts: 1

Square footage: 1100 and never enough

303 Boards was started in 1997 in Denver, CO out of pizza delivery and a pure love for skateboarding. Started by Sam Schuman, 303 Boards serves as a core skate shop to the Denver skateboarding scene. Fresh off a win in the 2015 Dew Tour Shop Showdown, Sam sits down with us to discuss 303 Boards’ history, their successful private label line, and the future outlook for the shop.

Background on how/when/why you started this business:

I started this business in 1997 with pizza delivery money just purely out of a love for skateboarding, nothing else.

What were you doing before running this business?

I was delivering pizza and managing a pizza shop.

How would you describe your shop? What makes it unique? What do you think you're best known for?

We are the perfect neighborhood dive-bar of skate shops. We have exactly what you need, all the time at the right price… Even when there's a foot of snow on the ground. We are best known for our 303 and CLFX products and our exceptional customer service.

How many employees do you generally have at one time?

5

How do you recruit, train, and retain good employees?

When we find out we'll let you know! Most of the staff has been here a while and will be here for awhile. Lifers!

What have been some key milestones in the shop's history since you opened?

I think our main milestones are the 10 videos we have put out over time. A big thanks to all past, current, and future team riders!

Do you have an online storefront (e-commerce)?

Yes, for 303 and CLFX products only.

Do you operate a private label brand? 

Yes, 303 and CLFX.

Are your private label sales a significant percentage of your business? If so, what percentage? 

Yes, they are very significant. Over half of our business.

Describe your typical customer:

Our customer base is mainly Colorado skateboarders. But we have a very wide variety of customers being in the city.

What percentage of your inventory is dedicated to…

Hard goods 50%

Men's Apparel 10%

Women's/Juniors Apparel 1%

Footwear 40%

Accessories 9%

We always give 110% to our brands. Being in the city in Colorado its mainly shoes and hard goods all year round

What brands have you carried the longest? 

NHS, DLX and 303/CLFX

What are currently your three most profitable product categories?

As our focus has been, and always will be, meeting the needs of Denver skateboarders, hard goods make up the majority of our sales.The volume we sell makes it profitable. Second would be shoes. Third would be clothing and accessories.

What has been your best selling brand over the past 6 months?

303 and CLFX

What's your overall impression of the local market over the past year?

It is growing like crazy with tons of new skaters. We have new customers to stoke out every day.

What are some things that brands are doing to help your business?

Brands like Fucking Awesome and Es not selling to everyone on the block and keeping some exclusivity are a good example of how it should be.

Are there any brands or programs that really stand out?

We love what brands like Fucking Awesome, Quasi, Farm, Lunchbreak, and Welcome are doing. We always strive to carry all the best and newest products for our customers.

What brands have stood out as the best overall "partner" since you've been in business?

Brands like Sole Tech, NHS, and Deluxe.

How have you altered the way you buy over the past few seasons?

We haven't really.

Are you altering the way you buy for next year?

No.

Are there any profound trends that you're noticing right now in your region? Overall?

The biggest one is people supporting smaller brands when they can.

What are your expectations for your business over the next 6-12 months? 1-3 years?

Just to keep moving and continue to expand and grow as a business. We see a lot of opportunity within the Colorado market that we are pursuing.

Where are you seeing the best margins?

Shoes

What new brands are gaining traction for you?

Street Trash and Farm Skateboarding

What's one key lesson that you've learned through running this business?

Never take it for granted. It has been and always will be hard work.

What makes you optimistic about your business and/or the industry right now?

The continuous growth for the smaller good shops and brands.

What are the standout events that you host or programs that you run for consumers?

Local video premiers are always the best.

Do you expect your business to grow over the next year?

Yes definitely, it has for the last 5 years so we don’t see that trend changing.

Are you currently considering expanding or opening a second location?

We definitely have some growth in the works.

Last specific moment that really made you love your job?

Winning the Transworld Shop Showdown.

Do you sponsor a shop team?

Yes, always.

Who are some of your standouts?

The ams such as David Reyes and Windsor James. Our OGs such as the Fredricksons, Angel Ramirez, and Trevor Uriona.  The new guys Isiah Sanchez, Valen Sabin, Spencer Semien,Gus Tanaka, and John Herrera.

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