• PLACE: Slip Skate Shop
• LOCATION: 3228 Pacific Ave., Suite B, Stockton
• HOW TO GET THERE: From Interstate 5, take the Pershing Avenue exit, continue north on Pershing for about 20 blocks to West Mendocino Avenue, turn right and follow the road to North Kensington Way, make a quick right to Alpine Avenue to North Pacific Avenue, and turn right.
• HOURS OF OPERATION: 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday
• INFORMATION: 209-467-1120
STOCKTON — Back in 2009, Eric Torres saw his business go up in flames.
But out of the ashes came a better location and new clientele – college students.
Slip Skate Shop on Pacific Avenue near Alpine Avenue is a stone’s throw away from the University of the Pacific campus.
“Students (from UOP) during back to school will come in and buy their long board as a way of getting around,” he said on Friday.
Torres has a few remnants of that devastating fire of nearly four years ago, including his scorched guitar displayed prominently in his shop. He opened the business in 1997, initially flirting with the idea of opening up a combination music/skate shop.
Music and skating are his two passions. Torres had musical equipment stored at his original location adjacent to the Hi and Bye Market on Harding Way when fire destroyed the building.
“I had a few of my regulars in the shop at the time,” he recalled. “The kids grabbed as many boards as they could and tools.
“I still have my original tools.”
Torres was closed for a time until opportunity knocked on the Pacific Avenue storefront. Slip reopened that December 2009.
His business today is lined with nearly 70 stripped-down boards including some with the “Slip” name. “They’re made in Ontario, CA, at a place called Service Board Supply,” he said.
Slip’s specialty is street skate boards. Torres gets plenty of first-time enthusiasts who are ready to take up the sport beyond department store skateboard.
He’s been skateboarding since the early 1980s and is the main instructor for the class offered by the Stockton Parks and Recreation Department in the summer.
“The one thing to know is that our top of the line skateboard is the same one used by the pros,” Torres said. “There’s no advantage.”
The pros, he added, prefer the ones made of real wood over that of the composite material types. “It’s all about the feel of (the skateboard),” said Torres.
For those starting up, he can put together a complete skateboard for the customer consisting of trucks, wheels, and grip tape for $79. The upgrade will run about $130.
“We’ll work with their budget,” Torres said.
He has available quality wheels – Bones and Spitfire brand – on his street skateboard.
For the younger skaters, Torres leaves it to the parents to handle safety features such as helmet and padding.
Slip carries wheels and accessories for those involved in the Roller Derby circuit along with skate shirts and shoes.
Torres has relied on word of mouth, the social network (see: Facebook), flyers and business cards in getting word out on Slip. His business attracts plenty of teenagers.
“Skateboarding is still popular,” he said. “But in terms of business, it has its share of ups and downs.”
— VINCE REMBULAT
209 staff reporter