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Skateshops and COVID-19 – Lobby

The Corona Pandemic has been described by the UN as the worst crisis since the Second World War and, as with almost every citizen of the world, it has an impact on skateboarders. We interviewed a few scene representatives to see how they deal with the situation. To find out how the shops are doing, we talked to Philipp Kroll from Lobbyin Hamburg.

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Hi Phillip, what are you doing?

Taxes and stuff you normally don’t have time to do it. I have to do that anyway, to see if we can use government subsidies. The form is now online, but it is a bit complicated, so we haven't applied yet.

Since when is the shop closed?

We closed directly on 17th of March when the regulation started. I'm still hanging around here now and Antonio is on short-time work. The curfew started ten days after I got back from vacation. When Antonio sent me the first pictures of people with masks and ski gloves at Edeka, I didn't take it seriously yet and then you come back and there's the shutdown. It's just really strange with such an invisible opponent.

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Philipp & Antonio (Vans Park Series 2019)

And everything else is forgotten now. The bush fires in Australia or in the rainforest, the refugee crisis, all of it largely disappeared from public awareness.

I think that's really intense. Shortly before that it flared up again, when Erdogan let the refugees loose on Greece and they were mobbed away at the border. That's still happening and no one gives a damn now. And if it ever hits a refugee camp, it'll go right through. Nothing is being done, I find that frightening.

We are still privileged, but still, what's the situation for shops?

We are lucky that there were a lot of sneaker releases right now. The Travis Scott was the craziest SB in the last few years. That's gonna save some skate shops' asses. But if it takes longer than two months, you will see - with salaries and rent and goods that arrive but don't sell - how everything goes down.

"Through all the Nike releases we have a good customer base in the sneaker community and I was really surprised how many support orders came from them"

You are now practically pure online retailers. What's that like?

Fortunately for us it is not yet a complete disaster. We still have online orders and especially in the first few days we noticed that a lot of support orders came in. Homies that ordered, people from brands that work with us. One of the first orders was from Tö from Favorite. Through all the Nike releases we have a good customer base in the sneaker community and I was really surprised how many support orders came from them. You know a few of them and when they order a shirt, which is not 100% their style, you notice that they do it because they know what the skatshops are going through. We were really happy about that, but people won't be able to do that for the next three months. And as far as hardware and skate shoes go, they sell better when people can skate. And you also notice that people hold the money together and don't buy expensive pieces. Nobody knows exactly what's going on, some are in short-time work, many skaters come from the creative industry, many of them are completely idle.

Have you talked to other shops how they're doing?

With Esel [SHRN] and Martin [Bonkers] it is similar to us and they are also unsure how the help from the government works and if we will get it. At the moment it's still ok, but as I said before, that can change quickly.

Do you have any special activities going on right now?

We've been thinking about doing a delivery service in Hamburg aby bike. Otherwise we have the problem that Corona shot straight into the spring deliveries. We don't know now what kind of goods we'll get. Brands and distributors can’t tell us cause they don’t know as well. But up to now we still send out online orders daily.

Do you think this experience will change the shopping behaviour in skate shops?

There is a lot of discussion in general right now: Away from cash and towards electronic payment. From stationary retail to online. But I think our profession has a special position there. You just like to go to a skateshop. And here in Hamburg we are in a cool district and there will always be a lot of walk-in customers. I would be surprised if this would bring serious changes for us.

How is the scene in Hamburg? Are there any skaters still going?

What skaters are like when they get banned, it took a while until the message arrived. Now that there are fines and most people have understood that it's not cool, even if it doesn't affect you, but you might infect the grandpa in the house. In any case there are many of the boys still on the road, but they split up into small groups.

And how is your personal situation with skating?

Luckily we have a slappy curb near the shop and some other things. I'll be going there alone or in pairs for the next few days.

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