JEFF THORBURN PORTFOLIO
Make a few moves in your adult life and you’ll inevitably end up with friends and family all over the place. Such...
Where is the shop located and can you place it geographically for us?
Linden Hergott: The shop is located in the small city of Warman, SK. It’s a very short hike north of Saskatoon and pretty much holding hands with its twin, Martensville, just five minutes down the road.
What’s up in Warman?
Quite a bit. We just got our first McDonalds. Oh and a 7-Eleven. It’s a young city. I think someone told me average age is mid-30s. There are kids everywhere, new businesses, neighbourhoods and other miscellaneous shit popping up all over. We got a big new skatepark within the last couple years, and Martensville just got a new park a couple of months ago.
When and why did you open?
We opened October of last year. I grew up in a town about an hour away from Saskatoon. Every weekend my friends and I would manage to convince one of our parents to drive us into Saskatoon to hit up the local shop and of course the skatepark. We would have killed to have a shop in our hometown, and I always thought maybe I could do that someday. Well I didn’t do it there but I did do it in Warman, where I think the exact same scenario was going on for some kids here too.
What was your background before opening the shop?
I worked a few jobs outside of high school that I was just not down with. I was pretty certain finding the “it” job was not going to happen. I was going to have to do something on my own and the idea of the shop started haunting me until finally I said, “Fuck it. I’m doing it.”
How has the first year of business been?
It’s been good. I really can’t complain. To be fair, I didn’t know what to expect coming into this. Overall, I’m really happy with how things have been going. Everyone is super supportive and gets the whole “small business, shop local” thing.
Are a lot of kids skating in Warman?
Yes, and no. There is a core set of dudes really ripping, and lots of young guys getting into it. I did some lessons with a few kids this summer, so it was cool watching them and their friends get into it. With that said, there are plenty of scooters out there.
What is getting kids into skateboarding these days?
As much as it hurts me to say, it’s YouTube. Young kids are heavily influenced by those YouTube guys. I’m not really into it; I like the traditional stuff and could care less if a skateboard made out of Nintendos will Kickflip. But Instagram and YouTube is the main skateboarding plug now, I guess.
What, if anything, is preventing kids from starting to skateboard?
Scooters. It takes time and time and time to learn how to Ollie on a skateboard. You can figure out how to hop on a scooter in seconds. They all want to skate; they just think they can’t.
Nowadays, do kids come into the shop knowing exactly what they want, or are they open to what you stock and choose to sell?
Yeah, some get bummed that I don’t carry the generic mall-type brands but get pretty stoked after they spend some time on something new that they haven’t seen before. We get some old dogs in who like their classic shit though. They won’t have it any other way.
Have you got any rigid parameters on brands or products that you will or won’t sell?
Kind of; it’s a tough one. I like to try and stay skater-owned and back brands you can’t find in the mall. Sometimes that’s unavoidable. But it does hurt to watch someone walk out because I don’t have any Nyjah decks or something silly like that. I couldn’t be happier with the brands I have in store, though, each one gets me more and more pumped and it reminds me of why I did this in the first place.
Being that it’s less than 30 minutes away, what’s your relationship like with the boys at Ninetimes in Saskatoon?
I knew this one was coming. Ninetimes—arguably is the reason I started skating. My first “real” skateboard was a Ninetimes shop deck that my neighbour let me borrow for a weekend. They have influenced my life in skateboarding and my shop immensely. So, in turn, I hope I can influence local kids in Warman the way Ninetimes did for me. I can’t speak on Ninetimes behalf. I really do not know how they feel about my shop. I’m sure, as skateboarders, they are down with it. But as businessmen, I don’t know so much. I never meant to step on anyone’s toes opening up this shop. Although it’s kind of hard not to these days. I just want to live the dream.
What have you learned in your first year that you are looking to improve upon moving forward?
Oh man, tons. I’ve learned more useful shit in this last year than ever before. Biggest thing for me right now is to just stay to my roots. It sounds cliché but it’s important to me. I did this for a reason. The second I veer away from that, my dream will turn into just another job and I’m not working right now. I haven’t worked for a year.
Interview by Jeff Thorburn