By Reggie Ellis
Encourage skateboarding to downtown. Discourage skateboarding in downtown.
It's a fine line to balance for new business Lulu's Board Shop, but owners Lisa and Josh England have plenty of practice navigating slippery slopes.
"People see skateboards and think the kid is a punk," said Lisa, who along with her husband, Josh, has been snowboarding since high school. "For the most part these are good kids who just have a lot of energy. When I arrive at the store they ask me how they can help and if there is anything else they can do."
Lulu's, 179 E. Pine St., opened its doors last week. The board shop carries brand name skateboards and skateboard equipment and accessories. The board, or "deck," only runs from $18-$50, but with the wheels and axles, or "trucks," and the decals, a complete board costs between $70-$110. Next summer they will carry surfboards and body boards, and this winter they will carry snowboards.
"We carry generic and top of the line," Josh said. "You can customize and build your own skateboard just how you want it."
One of the more popular items - with parents, kids and city leaders - is a board bag. This $35 backpack can carry schoolbooks and even has a pouch to slide in a skateboard, an easy way to walk through downtown without getting into trouble.
"We will be reminding them to respect the law and not skateboard in the downtown area," Lisa said.
Safety equipment is also sold, often at cheaper prices than in Visalia. Helmets, elbow and knee pads are all under $20. Sweatshirts run about $35, jeans $20 and T-shirts $20. Shoes for $30 are found in popular brands such as Shorty's Black Label, Bam Heartagram, Think, Element, Flip and Duff and NSS shoes. All the clothing is skateboarding-themed but isn't vulgar or violent.
"If I won't let my kids wear it then we won't carry it," Josh said.
"This is a place the kids can come, hang out and talk about skateboarding," Lisa said.
But winning the kids over is easier than convincing businesses things will work out. That's why Lulu's grand opening will attempt to pay dividends in the community as well as for the board shop. Pine Street will be closed from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13, for the grand opening in front of the store west of E Street. Live entertainment will be provided by "Smokestack Lightning." Professional skaters from Los Angeles will be performing demonstrations at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on ramps provided by the Exeter Boys & Girls Club. From noon to 2 p.m., Lulu's will donate 10% of all sales to the Boys & Girls Club. PS Photography will be shooting pictures for anyone who would like to purchase them and the Wildflower Cafe will have specials on beverages. Everyone is invited to attend the free event including people from surrounding communities.
"We are hoping for a big tourn-out to really bring a lot of people to downtown," Lisa said.
Born and raised in Exeter, the couple understands the community's concern of skateboarding downtown. Josh, 25, who also runs Rocky Hill Resurfacing, grew up skateboarding around Exeter and said he wanted a local place where kids could go to buy accessories for their skateboards and clothes for boarding.
"We've never had anything like this in town before," Phil Moya, 11, said. "It's the one place where we can go and hang out and won't get into trouble."
One of the few places to skateboard in town is at the Exeter Boys & Girls Club. But the Boys & Girls club is only for members and the skatepark is only open from 6:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday and 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Friday.
"This is a place we can chill whenever," Brian Arriola, 15, said. "And now I don't have to get a bus ticket when I want to get some new clothes."
"And the prices here are cheaper," Cameron Hastings, 13, said.
Lisa, a former preschool teacher, said she had her own reasons for opening the store - to spend more time with her three children - Jordan, 6, Quincey, 4, and Kobe, 2. "I can still work and be mom at the same time," she said. "And I will get to spend more time with my husband."
It's a balancing act that surely a couple of snowboarders can pull off. Lulu's Board Shop is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information call 592-1764.