A deep love for all things skate and a driving effort to maintain a thriving local skate scene are at the roots of Apparition Skateboards. Founded in Austin, Texas in 2008 by Owner Troy Bozeman, Apparition prides itself on being a shop that not only local skaters, but local artists and musicians as well, can call a second home. Sharing its home city of Austin with the South By Southwest (SXSW) music and arts festival, Apparition keeps active in the local skate community via hosting events with both local and touring SXSW musicians, in addition to collaborating with local artists on various events.
While Troy is often the only one manning the shop on a day-to-day basis, Apparition has an in-house skate team of around a dozen local shreds that, in addition to representing the shop, work with Bozeman to keep it afloat. Troy, an avid skater himself, and his crew of local skaters are working hard to keep the local skate scene alive and well. Apparition is also a significant supporter of the roller derby community, particularly the Texas Roller Derby and the Texas Roller Girls, and the shop stocks a hefty amount of roller derby gear, from pads and skates, to mouth guards and wrist guards.
We caught up with Apparition founder and owner Troy Bozeman to learn a bit more about Apparition Skateboards and its spot in the local Austin scene:
Tell us a little bit about Apparition. What inspired the shop? What were you up to prior to opening?
Prior to opening the shop, I was in search of employment after being thrust off by a local start-up that I felt like I helped make successful; I was basically trying to find the correct place that I fit in at in that time in my life. I felt like I wanted to take a chance on myself. I suppose my train of thought was that I would at least get out of it some of what I put into it.
What influenced the business model you run Apparition on?
I started skating in ’85 and was a pretty dedicated skater all throughout junior high and high school. I graduated in ’93 and had the luxury of connecting with the Plan B team at that time at a demo in Jackson, Mississippi and then the next day in Mobile, Alabama. It was a Beach Plus demo, wherever that was. It was like the only time I saw Mullen skate in person. It was enlightening, as you might imagine. In any case, my skating sort of died off there a few years later due to real world nonsense. I think when I decided to open the shop I basically held on to the ideas from shops that I remember from the late 80's and early 90's. The other major factor of influence is current industry standards and practices. I have to do what I can, and sometimes that is limiting. For example, I never dreamed that if I had a skate shop open, I would not be able to carry Vans skate shoes, the one brand that I skated all of my days. I have some great brands, but times have changed, so you have to do what you can and roll with the punches a bit in this era.
What percentage of your inventory is comprised of the following: hardgoods, men's apparel, women's apparel, accessories, footwear?
I would say that we are probably 75 percent hardgoods and accessories, with maybe 15 percent shoes and 10 percent apparel. I also think as we grow, that changes. I have seen a much greater hardgoods selection come in within the last year and I am currently working to bring in more shoes.
Who are the top three reps that service your shop?
Reps in Texas are an interesting thing, and the industry seems to be going through a lot of change in that arena. I can tell you that one rep that sticks out in my mind is Matt Stinzi. He is my Tum Yeto rep for Dekline, Toy Machine, and Foundation. Of all the people that I have had the pleasure of working with, he truly seems to understand the big picture of the sales world and works hard to forge a prosperous relationship between the two ends.
What are your three best-selling brands overall?
I have to say without a doubt Bones gets most of the shop’s money. I think they have always provided a quality product and have always stood behind it full force. That being said, I know that Independent and OJ are also big ones for us. There is, however, a new board I am having trouble keeping in stock and that is Welcome Skateboards‘ decks.
How many people does the shop have on staff?
I am the only one here most of the time, but if you stop in on a Monday you will most likely meet the homeboy that helps me keep this board on the skate track: Wesley Grumbles. He is literally the only dude on the shop’s payroll, but Jesse Woodward is our Team Manager. He puts all of the work in with the team and has been a huge help in spreading the word about the shop. He also rips. We have a nice team and all of those dudes pitch in and do what they can to help out around the shop.
Tell us a little about the skate team. What do you look for in a rider representing your shop?
Apparition has always had a "team" of a few rippers who are tight with the shop. Last year the team was revamped to include some of the long time supporters and we've added some new guys as well. The team is a key factor in contributing to the growth and development of the local skate scene as much as possible. Our team headcount cap is around 15 and we're a little below that right now. Team riders are an extension of the shop, so first and foremost they have to embody the shop's values: have a good attitude, be honest, loyal, and above all else, truly love skateboarding. There's no room for inflated egos; we skate for fun and the "cool-guy" syndrome just detracts from that. We've been lucky to put some guys on the team who are nice and genuine people and also great skateboarders.
Check out the video below to see a video of some local Austin shreds making good use of Apparition’s shop space:
At what point in running a shop do you consider yourself successful?
Success is a weird term; I think it is relative to your perspective. When I set out to open the shop, I thought that I would be able to consider myself successful if the community accepted me and I was able to provide them with what they need while promoting Texas skating in a positive light. I have had friends that have watched the skateboarding scene in Texas for over 40 years and note that I am now some tiny part of skateboard history. I think there is some truth to that, and being born in Temple, it is a heartwarming sentiment. I guess I am successful if in some way I have been able to contribute in a positive way to skateboarding and the spirit that it embodies here in this rad city.
What have been some of the biggest achievements for the shop, as well as some of the greatest obstacles?
I think some of our biggest achievements have been the work that we have done with local artists. We were called to task by the RAT tour in ’09, ’10, and ’11 and lucky enough to have some great local artists contribute their time and talent to making the events successful. Tim Kerr, Alberto Kroeger, and Jaie Devore spent time and cranked out some rad pieces that ended up, most honorably, benefiting the family of a fallen beloved local DC rep, Luke Ceballos. I know that the good folks at Capitol Skatepark did a lot for that as well. Another other cool thing we have been able to be a part of is the Kids Are Alright Fest, benefiting local families struggling with autism.
Who makes up most of your customer base? How, if at all, have you seen this change over the years?
Our customer base is mostly local support, folks who live in the neighborhood or who have heard about us somewhere and found what they want in a skate shop here. The biggest change I have seen, I suppose, is growth. There have been other local shops that have closed for various reasons and I think that the true core skate community of Austin takes it upon themselves to keep it real when it comes to supporting local shops. Over time the shop has slowly gathered more support and a fair amount of repeat business.
Apparition is significantly involved with and supportive of the Texas Roller Derby and Texas Roller Girls. How did the shop's relationship with derby begin? How do derby gear sales stack up compared to sales of skate goods?
Ever since I began the shop, I wanted to support the derby community as much as possible since there is no current brick and mortar derby shop. They have a great community and are made up of tons of awesome people spanning every denomination and workforce. They are very locally minded and understand how difficult it is to maintain the scene. Derby is pretty big in Austin, since it is its rebirth place. I am not sure exactly how the sales stack up, but I know that it has been support from the derby and the local core skate scene that has allowed me to continue to be here. I don't think I would be able to make it without that support.
What changes, if any, have you seen in the skate industry over your years running Apparition?
We really haven't been open for a terribly long time, since 2008, but I think the major change that I have seen is a sort of corporate corruption that has taken over the industry. But, it seems like in the past few years, there has been some notice taken to that, and with it, efforts to help promote core shops and rebuild that aspect of the industry. I think when giant companies that really have had no place in skateboarding historically step in and try to overtake the scene through monetary means, there is bound to be a collapse. No one owns skateboarding except skateboarders and it is up to us to keep it that way.
For more on Apparition, check out the shop’s website here.