A Denver-based skateboard shop is opening a new location in Austin and plans to add 17 more stores around the U.S.
Boardlife, which specializes in selling longboards, plans to have a soft opening by mid-March to coincide with the South by Southwest music festival.
“The Denver store was a step for us to hone the concept and make sure the business model worked,” said Boardlife co-owner John Klutznick. “We’ve identified probably the next five locations, and we’re looking to grow the business soon.”
The Highlands Boardlife store, located at 30th and Tejon Street, was founded in November of 2011. It is currently the company’s only location.
Austin residents can already buy from Boardlife on the company’s website, but Klutznick said opening a store is better for business.
“We’ve found that millennials like to shop brick and mortar,” he said. “They’ll research online, but they want to be able to go in and talk to someone when they buy it.”
The Austin Boardlife store will have a similar size and layout to the Denver location. Each shop is 1,500 square feet and designed to have an “industrial garage” atmosphere, Klutznick said.
“Austin is very similar to Colorado – it’s very outdoors-oriented,” he said. “They’ve got some nice hill country for longboarding and you can skate year-round, where here you get the winter months where the streets get icy and you can’t longboard.”
Klutznick also mentioned the large student population from the University of Texas.
Klutznick and his business partner, Michael Pisarcik, plan to spend $1 million to $1.5 million for the expansion. Klutznick also works as a commercial real estate agent.
Boardlife also builds customized boards for about $150. The client picks the board’s materials, components, features and colors. Boardlife walks through the building process with buyers and teaches them how the components work together to give them a better understanding of their ride.
“It was modeled a little bit after Build-a-Bear,” Klutznick said. “We wanted to find a way to make it more exciting for people to get into the sport.”
Boardlife will offer its “Deck it Out” service in its Austin store as well.
In addition to longboards, Boardlife sells cruiser bikes, snowboards, street paddle boards and electric longboards. The electric boards are engine-powered and have a top speed of 22 miles per hour.
Klutznick commutes to work on an electric longboard.
“It’s silent, and you can enjoy the ride,” he said.
Klutznick discovered longboarding in 2005 in an article of USA Today.
“I tracked down the company, ordered some gear, started playing with it, and had fun,” he said. “It was a great way to spend time with my family. My wife will ride her cruiser bike, and my sons and I will ride our longboards.”