Local, independently run skate shops are an amazing hub for the local skate communities. Just ask anyone who is lucky enough to live in the same city as one of these gems. They provide guidance, advice and are a place of seduction for skaters seeking answers for equipment questions. And if you are lucky enough, they even host special events and options to get together with fellow skaters.
STEAKS loves working with skater owned shops because of their enthusiasm and passion for their customers and business and because we want to celebrate these partnerships we have started an interview series called #supportyourlocalskateshop.
During the interview with one of the Double Threat Skates’ shop owners Gaz, we spoke about how their personal values influence their business and relationships with their customers, other skate shop and skater owned businesses that have turned into friendships. Enjoy!
Double Threat Skates owners Gaz, Kitty (with Minni): roller derby skaters for London Rollergirls, skate shop owners and friends.
When and how was Double Threat Skates founded?
Kitty had just moved back to London after spending a few years in Melbourne where she owned a men’s hair salon. Kitty decided she wanted to open a Roller Derby shop in London and went on the search for a business partner. After playing Roller Derby in London. I (Gaz) founded an online Roller Derby shop, Aotearoller Derby Gear, in New Zealand in 2010, before I moved to London in 2011 to skate with London Rollergirls. So I had experience with suppliers and gear. Kitty and I met to talk through their ideas in a grimy British cafe at 8 a.m. and left smelling like deep fry and opportunity. It was a perfect match!
What sort of ideals, values and ethics is your shop based on?
As a business, we value being able to have personal connections with our customers. We are a small business run mainly by 2 people who also own the business. We bring our kids into the store with us (Minnie, who is about to turn 3, and sometimes Juniper, who has just turned 1), we spend our spare time skating, often with people who are also our teammates and our customers, we remember what skates people have bought sometimes years after they have bought them. It’s our passion as well as our job and being part of the same community as our customers is a privilege.
Kitty and I also share individual values that resonate in the way we run our business. We both identify strongly as intersectional feminists and we share values of inclusion and diversity with the roller derby community. We pay the few staff we have fair wages.
We also work with Derby Without Borders to collect and distribute gear to emerging regions where derby gear is less accessible. And of course, we do what we can to reduce the impact on the environment in all the usual ways (reduce, reuse, recycle).
Street view of Double Threat Skates in London UK, founded in 2013
Judging from social media you have a good relationship with the people from Low Life Skate Shop (also a STEAKS retailer). What can you tell us about this friendship?
I just really like the humans who own that store! London Rollergirls and Montreal Roller Derby have a long history of being rivals and frenemies so we have been skating against them for a long time. Mange and I (Gaz) have pretty funny on-track beef, partly I think because we are both quite chatty (to put it nicely). There is actually a great gif of me pretending to push Mange over during a London vs Canada game that made it onto the BBC!
Do you foster or seek contact with other skater owned skate shops or businesses?
In general, we do have good relationships with other skate shops and skate owned businesses. If I hear of derby shops opening in Europe I will always make an effort to reach out and see if they need help or advice. Molly who owned Quad Skate Shop in Berlin is a good friend of mine and I always have good friendly banter with the folks from the other main EU skate shops when we see them at events. I think it is important to create and maintain relationships with people and businesses in our community and industry.
Double Threat Skates, a hub for all your skate gear questions in Kings Cross, London, UK.
Why do you think local skate shops are important?
I think local skate shops are important for the same reason I think all locally owned specialist stores are important. When you are buying equipment that is both expensive and imperative to your performance and enjoyment of your sport, it is invaluable to have someone walk you through your options and make sure you are getting the right gear.
I think it is particularly important in a niche sport like roller derby, where the small amount of info that you can find on the internet is varied and often misleading, so talking to someone with first hand knowledge, not only of gear specs but of how to translate jargon so you can understand it, is very helpful! The people who own and run roller derby shops are usually very dedicated and knowledgeable about gear, which makes them the best people to talk to!
What do you look for in a brand that you carry?
Quality is a big one for us. We test all the gear we carry to see how it performs and to make sure we have enough knowledge to share with our customers. We want to make sure that anything that we are recommending will last the distance. We also want to make sure we have options at different prices so that roller derby doesn’t always have to cost an arm and a leg.
Do you host special events at or through the shop?
Occasionally we host fitting parties. We are looking into hosting more gear workshops, but we are not sure if people are interested in that. 👉 👉 So if you are, let us know! 👈 👈
The Double Threat Skates vibe: Friendly and casual, full of enthusiastic and helpful gear nerds.
What can the local skate community do to support their local shops and scene?
Buying your gear from local brick and mortar stores is important if you want these shops to be around in the future. No one is making millions selling roller skates. So like any small business, they need your support to survive!
What can brands do to support independent skate shops?
Ensuring quality of products means that we can have confidence that they will perform well when we sell and recommend items to customers. Also making sure that products information such as sizing and materials is readily accessible helps everyone know what they are using.
Visit Double Threat Skates:
119 Pancras Road
NW11UN, Kings Cross