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PUBLIC

PROFILE

By Michael Brooke

BEHIND THE SCENES AT

AXS GEAR

The magazine you are holding grew out of the AXS Gear longboard website created by Rick Tetz. When I first met Rick three years ago, we had no idea we’d find ourselves one day publishing a longboard trade magazine. But that’s the great thing about longboarding – anything can happen as long as you are determined. These are still early days and opportunities are plentiful, should you wish to invest the energy. Believe me when I say that we’ve both invested a great deal of energy on longboarding! Rick created the AXS Gear website to provide consumers with information on where to purchase longboards and to give companies an opportunity to showcase their products. The response has been tremendous; there are now more than 4,000 registered longboard shops at the site. This magazine aims to be an extension of the site. But we wanted to give you a little more insight into Rick and share with our readership some of his knowledge. Since most readers are familiar with my work with Concrete Wave magazine, I wanted to give you some background on Rick. Ours is a unique partnership, and we are both very strongly committed to the success of longboarding via print and pixels.

Rick rode for the Sims Canadian Team back in the day. Photo: Mark Gilmore Opposite page: Interview for a piece on helmet safety at CalStreets.

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AXS LONGBOARD RETAILER | WINTER 2011

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ick started skateboarding in 1975. Back in the late ’70s, he opened up a very successful skate shop in Vancouver called CalStreets. “A number of years ago, I hurt my back and my doctor forbade me from skateboarding,” says Rick. “But I had a friend, Pat Montgomery, who had a longboard, and that’s what drew me back into skateboarding.” After Rick hurt his back, he had the opportunity to learn about Web programming and design. “With my first company, WebLab, I designed security protocols and put together camera arrays to help [reduce] shrinkage at various retail shops. I had learned about shoplifting when I ran my own shop. I knew how kids did it.” Rick also created a website, calstreets.com, that received an enormous amount of traffic for something fairly unusual – scanned advertisements from old skateboard magazines. The site has become extremely successful; people spend hours looking at the old ads. “There is something about the history of skateboarding that just draws them in,” Rick says. But something else was also drawing folks to the site, and it has tremendous implications for shops. “When I created calstreets.com, I didn’t use HTML,” Rick says. “The whole site is databasedriven. Every skateboard name from the past 30 years is on my site. Everything is meta/alttagged, including videos and photos. So when I launched, Google just ate it up. This gets calstreets.com ranked high in the search engines. When it comes to helping shops gain some traction on the Web, Rick is adamant that they don’t keep only to third-party sites. “Some skate shops and companies only have a Facebook page,” he says. “This is not a huge confidence builder. They need to plan properly – have their own dedicated server, their own website, just in case something goes wrong.” Rick is also skeptical about the use of Gmail for a shop’s email address. “I don’t want a third party having access to my information,” he says. “It too is not a huge confidence builder.”

AXS Longboard Retailer  

for those who wish to learn about the business of selling and marketing longboards

AXS Longboard Retailer  

for those who wish to learn about the business of selling and marketing longboards