The War on Blanks

George Bush Skateboards and the War on blanks

We’ve weighed in on “The War on Blanks” before, but it keeps popping up, and looks like it’s going to be an industry focus in 2007. Personally, I can’t respect hypocrisy, which is what I see when a company says blanks are bad for the industry but Chinese manufacturing is good. It’s all about the profit margins. I think it’s a case where the industry has made it’s own bed and now doesn’t want to sleep in it. What I’d like to see is information on where these blanks coming from and how many different skateboard manufacturers actually exist. The quote coming from George’s mouth above is actually from Andrew Reynolds on the web site called “A World Without Pros.” More hypocrisy and links concerning the War on Blanks and the War on George Bush as expressed on skateboards after the jump.

A World Without Pros

A World Without Pros

A World Without Pros is a web site run by Blitz Distribution (Birdhouse, Flip, Baker, Fury). There’s not much to it, except for some clever graphics where the pro fades out of the pictures until it’s just the board and surroundings remaining. There are also a few sentences from Geoff Rowley, Andrew reynolds and Tony Hawk and Per Welinder. Overall it makes a pretty weak case. The best Rowley can muster up is to tell the shops to keep the blank quantities low, which doesn’t make much sense because if they are blank, there’s no point in stocking a lot of options anyway. Per Welinder says without pros there will be no flair or progression, just pure stagnation. I can’t agree with that. If by flair he means no coverage of pros destroying hotels or getting loaded, than maybe. But progression and style? Give me a break. There are plenty of people progressing and pushing the envelope that aren’t pros. If he thinks they are only doing that in hopes of turning pro then he’s got a much more cynical view than I do. As far as Reynolds worrying about videos, the internet and personal computers have already demonstarted that videos can and will be made and distributed without pros.

Tony Hawk argues that “blank boards mean a departure of respect for professionals and a way of slowly killing the companies that have kept skateboarding alive through the toughest times.” I’d have to counter that pros can ear and keep respect through their actions. A major part of the blame needs to be placed on the companies themselves for propagating a culture of roster hopping and disposable brands that are purely facades. They get started, shut down, and restarted on the whim of marketing strategies. “So-and-So for life!” has become “Brand Whatever for the shelf life.

Overall the web site isn’t very effective. One limiting factor is that it only features pros from Blitz, so it’s seems only more self-serving. Don’t just take my word for it, there’s another breakdown on Sublimited.net.

Transworld Skateboarding Business

Transworld Business

Transworld Skateboarding Business was a trade magazine that used to be it’s own publication, but is now lumped in with snowboarding and surfing. Now it’s Transworld Business: Skate – Surf – Snow. They have been running articles on the issue of skateboard blanks for a while now. Here are some of the most recent ones.

South Shore Distribution To Cease Blank Sales
Posted 01.30.2007

South Shore Distribution President Damian Hebert says it was a simple decision. “We exist because of 95 percent of my inventory is the branded product–the people that put money back into skateboarding,” says Hebert. “eBay, mail order, and even Tech Decks take skateboarding away from shops and away from the skate community.

Hold on… Tech Decks taking skateboarding away from the shops and communities? That’s rich, considering the industry licenses hteri own designs to Tech Deck.

Active Drops Blanks
Posted 12.22.2006
Active (Mailorder) Drops Blanks In Hopes To Increase Demand On Graphic Decks

Active Ride Shop and Active Mail Order takes a stand to stop selling non-graphic skate decks in hopes of increasing consumer demand for graphic and pro decks.

All Together Now
Posted 11.22.2006
A momentous IASC meeting leads to a more united front among skate hardgoods manufacturers.

On September 10, the last day of the ASR show, a who’s who meeting of skateboard hardgoods manufacturers met after the twice-annual IASC meeting to discuss why blank skateboard decks have become so popular, what that is doing to the heart of the industry, and how the manufacturers could band together to effect change.

The War On Blanks
Posted 11.14.2006

…the war on blank and shop-branded skateboard decks continues to be the longest running, unresolved battle the skateboard industry has ever faced. It’s been a point of contention between retailers and manufacturers for the last fifteen years. Manufacturers claim the sale of these products draws money away from the brands that promote professional

Here’s something I found particularly interesting, based on personal experience with the staff at Transworld Business

Editor’s Note To Retailers
Skateboarding has never been about greed, but by definition, business is always about making money. At the end of the day, the decision to sell blank decks and shop decks is about finding balance. Our industry is small. Retailers need to keep their lights on. They also need to be sensitive to the needs of the industry that keeps skateboarding alive. We’re in a relationship of codependence. Making ethical business decisions that benefit the whole is vital to maintaining that. Please advise.

Ethical? That’s a laugh. Try getting into their buying guide (The Business issue, not the newsstand issue of Transworld Skateboarding.) if you are a small company. It comes down to how much you spend with them or who you know. I speak from experience after two years of trying to get in. I followed their guidelines and was denied each time, once without a reason or notice. The second time being given an explanation that contradicted their own actions, meaning some items and companies they did show failed to meet the stated criteria, while the items I submitted did. If there is a monetary or bro-quotient involved then they should should just come out and say so instead of making people jump through a bunch of hoops and spend money when they have no intention of letting into the Buyer’s Guide. (Disclosure)

Black Box Distribution

Black Box Distribution

This just in… According to Sacklunch, Jamie Thomas offers a discount pricing structure…

If core retailers meet these three requirements they’ll likely get pricing that’s nearly as good as the pricing Black Box gives CCS and Zumiez.

One of the three requirements is to focus on supporting pro-branded products over blank and non-branded products.
[Source: Slap Magazine Forums, via Sacklunch]

The “War on George Bush” skateboards

Whenever we climb on our high horse, I like to counter that with a bit of humor. That’s why there’s a George Bush “War on Terror” graphic tie in. there have been a handful of anti-bush skateboards since W took control of the free world. The three I used in the example were the only ones I could find or think of at the moment. If you know of others or have a better picture of the Consolidated board, please leave a link in the comments.

Boardpusher.com
George Bush Doesn’t Care About Black People
George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People
Boardpusher is place where you can design and print (and sell if you want) your own board. Kind of like a Cafe Press of skateboards.

Cold War Skateboards
Bush Beater
Bush Beater
No, no. Not controversial in the least bit. The small company I tried for two years to get into a buyers guide issue of Transworld Business.

Consolidated Skateboards
No Bush:
no bush
This model does not appear to be in production anymore. This low quality graphic was the only one I found.

George Bush Flips the Bird.

And lastly, the video of George W Bush flipping off the camera. I think is is from when he was just a bad governor, before he was a horrible president.

7 Comments

  1. the skateboard industry started this whole mess with its mass marketing of one shape and one shape alone, and by minimizing what it means to be a pro by giving pro status to every dweeb who can throw himself down a handrail. Not to mention a “pro” having 8 different graphics at any one time, and those graphics changing monthly. Is there much difference between this and a blank? Not at all. I jate to say “back in the day”, but back then you knew every pro’s graphic. They kept the same motif for years sometimes. It meant something. It builds a brand for chrissake. What would happen if Apple computer changed their logo every month? Anonymous, throwaway pro decks might as well be blanks. Suck it skate industry.

  2. I’ve hated the “skate industry” ever since it let me down in the early to mid 90s by catering only to one type of skateboarding (street), and dropping any kind of style or originality in favor of equipment conformity and fashion clones. I was just watching an old video of myself and a buddy skating Portland’s City Skates skatepark in 1994 (remember that place?), and it was depressing remembering how we were forced to buy tiny popsicle stick boards with tiny little wheels because the market offered NOTHING ELSE. I remember those days and they sucked, bad. Truly the Dark Ages of skateboarding.

    Now you might think I’d be advocating “back in the day” as well, but honestly these days are the real heyday of skateboarding. Parks popping up everywhere, lots of innovative small companies offering all kinds of different deck styles and shapes, equipment for all types of skating, and lots of people who just skate for fun. Jaded as I might be, I have to admit that skateboarding in this day and age rocks!

    The “skate industry” in the mainstream sense is completely irrelevant to me personally, other than providing the money and the hype needed to help feed the smaller markets that I like to support. I’ll continue riding blanks, shop decks, or small company boards as long as they suit my needs. Do I hope the mainstream skate industry survives? Sure, but only to keep skateboarding big enough for the little guys to stay afloat. Other than that, I could care less about the majority of them.

  3. Danimal on February 2, 2007 - Reply

    I feel bad for guys like tony hawk and jamie thomas, if we all buy blanks then how will these guys make their boat and luxury car payments on time? help a brother out.

    (that’s sarcasm, for those who cant read between the lines)

  4. And what about all the graphic designers and illustrators who would have to find work in the advertising industry or at a Kinko’s or something?

  5. I watch Will & Grace reruns to get psyched before I go skate. So whatever.

  6. i hear what these guys are saying and also about the cookie-cutter flipper decks. What happened to the originality that we used to have ( i started skating in 86). I was just watching the search for animal chin with my son last night on VHS and although the tricks were kinda cheesy and they filming almost archaic, the story line, message and style of each rider was unique, engaging and entertaining, not to mention still a great watch 23 years later!

    I know Madrid boards are still around and flourishing in our crappy 1 style fits all industry, however Madrid still has all the original molds and shapes of our favorite boards from guys like Hosoi, Staab, lucero, etc and you can grab one like the one you loved back then online right now!!!

    It’s nice to have choices in size and SHAPE in an industry that says screw you vert guys (i’m a street guy myself and my son is vert, go figure) or those guys who take their ramp into the street or against a wall and just tear it up.

    Go watch the middle of the animal chin movie with Johnny Rad and the warehouse skate party and that’s what skating is all about. Good times, good people, good skating, no attitudes or jealousy, but encouragement

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