Merchandise has been marked down around Medford’s Extreme Board Shop. Store manager Taylor Biencourt says the shop will close by sometime in January. - Jim Craven

Medford skate shop shuts down

Three years after crashing the Medford market, Grants Pass-based Extreme Board Shop is pulling the plug.

"There's just not enough business," said owner Jon Tamashiro, who opened the 1350 Biddle Road shop with high expectations. "The first two years we saw growth going the right direction. It wasn't what we anticipated after two years; we thought we'd be at the level of the Grants Pass store but we weren't even close to it."

This year, Medford sales diminished, leading Tamashiro to retrench.

"We just can't figure out Medford," he said. "We thought we'd do better. We had some Ashland customers and had looked into Ashland as a place for another store. We figured everybody in Ashland shopped in Medford for certain things."

Tamashiro said the store — sandwiched between McKenzie Outfitters and Cycle Sport and not far from Barnes & Noble — will remain open through December and perhaps into the first month of 2008.

Extreme Board Shop was pitted against Zumiez and Sports Authority in the Rogue Valley Mall, as well as Hot Skates, Joe's, Black Bird and Rogue Ski Shop. Competition for boarder dollars ranged from crowded to intense, depending on the type of merchandise.

"When you think of location, there's nothing worse or better about it than others," Tamashiro said. "If you're not in the mall, I can't think of a better location for specialty independent stores. But it seems in our area, almost everyone wants chain stores."

Aaron Hovivian, who has operated skateboard shops in Medford for the past 10 years, said boarders are a moving target.

"It's a hobby that definitely goes in cycles," Hovivian said. "When it's in vogue, it's hot; but not everybody holds tight when it's not."

Tamashiro said the slump in the real estate market and higher fuel prices played a role in the closure.

"Let's face it," Tamashiro said. "This is kind of a luxury item and this is an industry with its ups and downs."

The Medford store was twice as big as the Seventh Street location in Grants Pass.

"If I were to do it over," he said. "I'd come in with a smaller shop and less overhead."

Demographics change too. Tamashiro said the Medford shoppers were a little older than the middle and high school-age customers in Grants Pass.

Hovivian said the counter-culture nature of boarding sometimes undermines the retail side that feeds on sporadic response.

"You're in business to make money," he said. "But at the same time, you want to keep the dream alive. The cyclical peak isn't always good for the industry."

MTV shows such as "Viva La Bam," featuring Bam Margera, "Rob & Big," along with "Life of Ryan," featuring Ryan Sheckler, all feed the interest in skateboarding and snowboarding.

"You get a peak and that piques people's interest," Hovivian said. "That brings attention to the industry, but this is an industry that has always prided itself on being underground, grungy and less mainstream."

Snowboarding has overtaken skiing on many mountains and personalities such as Olympic snowboard gold medalist Shaun White only enhance the genre's widening appeal.

"It's a win-lose situation," Hovivian said. "It makes all the guys not in the industry pick up on it. So you have a bunch of guys who don't do the sport, (but they're) wearing the clothes and shoes. They buy the boards and that makes us more money, but it's not true to the industry or to the sport."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail

Share This Story