Monday, December 10, 2012

words from Don Bergeson

Shop life. I know I am starting to sound like a grumpy old man. I can see it now, standing outside yelling ‘DAMN KIDS, get off my property.’ I so don’t want to be that guy, but it just might happen. In May of 2005 I was lucky enough to open and help create what is known as The FL PROjECT, and we have been able to weather this shit storm of an economy. Not to mention the great city of Forest Lake and their fine support of local business. We almost didn’t make it, and we are still struggling. My biggest issue has got to be cash flow. Now I will take full responsibility for how we got into this mess. I have been trying to dig my way out of this hole. I have come to a couple frustrating and hurtful truths about the state of consumers these days. I am going to tell you a little story about growing up as a young skater/snowboarder. I grew up in Lino Lakes a north suburb to MPLS/St. Paul. In the 80’s we were considered pretty far out there when it came to stores etc. The internet, cell phones everything we take for granted didn’t exist at this point. I had Thrasher and a couple other mags to feed my addiction. With the closest skate shop about 30 minutes away. My mom was the one who had to take me to the shop when I needed a new set up or shoes. She had one rule to follow when I did beg long enough to get her to drive all that way. I better find what I needed because she wasn’t going to go anywhere else. This meant is they didn’t have the shoe in the color or the deck or brand I WANTED, then I better find something else or go without. I know it’s hard for you kids to imagine these days, since you can log onto the internet and find anything you want in the color, size, shape etc. that you WANT. But, to me even if had my HEART set on a certain brand if they didn’t have it, I either left empty handed or found something else. And trust me I FOUND something else know it might be another month or two before I was able to get back to that shop. A couple things about this story that I hope stick with you kids. One, the product carried at the shop was legit I wasn’t having to sacrifice on quality; just the brand name of something that I thought was cool. And it wasn’t that the other brands weren’t cool. I just had an idea of this person skates for this brand I want that (similar to today and why you guys buy stuff). The difference being if they had sold out or didn’t carry that brand I HAD to buy something else. I didn’t have anywhere else to go choices were made for me. The funniest part of this is I didn’t want to go anywhere else. THIS SHOP had something about it. It’s were the best skaters and snowboarders came to get there stuff, they worked there, they lurked there. It was a place to be seen and known. And as a young kid I WANTED THAT! I wanted to feel a part of that community, that lifestyle, that FAMILY. Knowing that when I walked in the door someone would recognize me and ask how I was that day. Show me the newest gear and give me that high five. What could be greater than that? In my mind nothing! I was a part of that shop, even if it was just the fact I spent my money there. I knew I wasn’t good enough to be a sponsored kid. But, being at a shop I could call home was just as good. I knew if I supported the shop they would support me. I am not talking about sponsorship or discount or even recognition. I am talking about they would be HERE, carrying the brands that cared about skateboarders and snowboarders, they were the filter that kept me from supporting companies that weren’t cool or giving back to our lifestyle. The companies they carried had the newest tech, the coolest graphics and defiantly supported the lifestyle. The shop was going to sponsor events, comps and make skating / snowboarding that much cooler and more fun. They weren’t in this to get rich and follow trends. They believed in this lifestyle, they wanted the shop to be a family just as much as I did. I ask you what’s important to you, making sure you get that certain color or brand? Or is it going to be having a family that will support you and this lifestyle you choose? I honestly wouldn’t have opened a shop if it was all about making money; I want that feeling I had as a kid, that when people are in my store it feels like FAMILY. We might not always get along, but we will stand up for each other when times are tough. And right now times are tough for this shop and a lot of shops just like this one. We the LOCAL, CORE shops trying to survive and we need our family to STAND up and take action. There is only some much I can do, I am not rich, and fact is I have lots of debt from starting this shop. But I wouldn’t change that for anything; the last 7 years have been amazing and all I want is to be here for seven more. To do this I need my FAMILY to help, this includes everyone from myself, to employees, the guys that are sponsored by the shop, the Lurkers and those young kids that I may not know you’re name yet, but you walk in here and you are starting to understand that this could be your home. I ask to do a FEW simple things. 1. Special order if you have to have a certain shoe in a certain color. 2. Realize every brand as something similar; as to style and fit. Maybe you’d really like something else if you tried it. 3. I don’t BUY CRAPPY products, just because a friend of yours doesn’t like a brand because he heard it broke right away, doesn’t mean the whole company makes crappy anything. Things happen and the companies I support will support you. 4. If you special order, think a head it takes time to ship stuff. Give me notice and I’ll get it done! 5. Support the shop in your community that has supported your lifestyle. Nothing hurts worse than seeing you guys walk into my shop rocking new gear from somewhere else. It’s like a punch to the gut. I get it we didn’t have that style, brand, or color in stock. All I ask is that you give me a chance to get it for you or you open your minds to supporting brands that support your shop. Without your support, this shop might not always be here. So, when you are walking through the mall and see a FRESH new pair of shoes I hope you think twice. Or sitting on the internet and notice there is a different color way, think twice. What’s more important to you? Having a place to call home and supporting that, or rocking those new shoes that I don’t have on the wall? I hope the answer is FAMILY and HOME. Think about where and what you would do different if the shop wasn’t here? Much love, Don -FLP

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