[Interview:] Uncle Funkys Skateboard Shop

Location: 128 Charles St, New York, NY 10014
Phone number: (646) 895-9943

12011290_1047646078579052_2980031295393307425_n1. What is your name and background in skateboarding?

Jeff Gaites. I started skateboarding in 1976 at the age of six when I borrowed my neighbor’s plastic Free Former. We loved skating and used to cruise all over the neighborhoods bombing local hills. After a fairly major wipeout doing tow-ins behind a moped on the biggest hill in our area, I stopped skating and didn’t get back into it until the 1990’s. I continue to skate every day that it’s not raining, or snowing, and I enjoy skating as much as I did when I was six, if not more.;)

2. How did the shop get started?

Everything really started with the Freshpaved blog. Before social media and Google Maps, Freshpaved provided a way for skaters to share skate spots and hills around the world. As more and more people got in contact with us via the site, it became clear that while there were some skate shops in the city, there weren’t many resources for longboarders. I started www.unclefunkysboards.com and got some demo longboards, which I kept in my apartment, for people to try out before they ordered from the site. After I met my wife, Kristen, we moved into a live/work apartment on Carmine Street where we kept regular store hours and stocked a decent selection of boards. Despite the fact that we were completely hidden in a residential building, we were busy and our customers were happy to be able to stand on boards and get answers to their questions about skating and skateboards. We were busy enough on Carmine Street that we were able to move the shop to our current retail space on Charles St. We’re still a little hidden in our basement store, but people manage to find us.

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3. Where did the name come from?

The name originally came from my great-uncle Sonny. He was dancing at a family member’s wedding and someone said, “we should call him Uncle Funky”. My nieces picked it up and started calling me Uncle Funky. We hope that the name conveys the fact that our shop has a friendly, homey atmosphere.

4. What makes your shop different?

Many of our customers tell us that they find the skate shop experience intimidating, especially for beginners. We try to create an environment where people feel comfortable asking questions. We hope to provide enough information and an excellent selection of boards so our customers can find one that is right for them, without pressure. Skateboarding is fun. Buying a skateboard should be too.

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5. Why have you decided not to get into selling scooter part and accessories as other shops have?

We’re a small shop and we’re focused on having the best selection of skateboards we can fit in our space. We carry street decks, pool/vert boards, longboards, mini-cruisers, plastic boards, and vintage skateboards. We also carry a wide selection of wheels, trucks, bearings, grip tape, bushings, and other accessories as well as protective gear and helmets. We’re filled to the brim as it is and storage is a major concern. Also, we don’t ride scooters so we would not be able to discuss them with the same level of expertise that we do skateboards.

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6. With big brands, like Nike and Adidas, getting into skateboarding, do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing?

Big brands can certainly have a benefit to the skateboard industry bringing large dollars towards events, sponsorships, new skate parks, media, etc. which grows the sport. Unfortunately, larger brands can also have a negative impact on small, independent businesses trying, and often times failing, to compete with bigger budgets.

7. What do you think about the battle between chain mall stores and local skate shops?

At small, local skate shops, people are able to learn about boards from experts who genuinely love what they do. That experience is not easily replicated by chain stores where customer service may be less consistent. Local shops are generally run by people who are passionate about the skateboard community they live in. Chain mall stores are probably more generally focused on revenue and profits. Based upon these two different focuses, local shops and chain mall stores focus their energy in different areas, which comes through in the culture of the businesses.

8. How can people find out more about you? Any closing shout outs?

Please check out our website http://www.unclefunkysboards.com and our reviews on Yelp and Google to hear what our customers think of the shop. You can also connect with us at Facebook.com/UncleFunkys or on Instagram @unclefunkysboards. Or just come by and see us in the West Village at 128 Charles Street at the corner of Greenwich Street in the basement store under the Lotus Salon. We’re open every day from 12pm to 8pm.

Location: 128 Charles St, New York, NY 10014
Phone number: (646) 895-9943

Are you looking to learn skateboarding? GoSkate.com of New York provides instructors. Learn more about taking skateboard lessons in New York City.

 

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