Skate 'Till You Drop

Feature by Lindsey Johnstone | 13 Sep 2006

Long respected in Edinburgh as the only skater-run shop in the city, Focus have turned their attentions to Glasgow. Any self-respecting skate shop is first and foremost a good place to hang out. No welcoming sofa means no customer loyalty. The new Focus Glasgow store has a great sofa: brown leather and a bit battered. There is even a coffee table featuring a copy of Vogue for the skate widows. Just one of the many ways in which Focus shows love for its customers.

The shop opened in December last year, slotting in perfectly between Mono and Mr Ben's down at Kings Court. Stocking the widest selection of hardware in Scotland, including decks from Landscape, Heroin, Zero and Blueprint, the store also carries clothing lines from Volcom, Cliché, Girl, Chocolate, Dickies, Fenchurch and Emerica, plus of course the essential Livi 25th anniversary T-shirt.

But Focus is not really about selling clothes. Mark Foster, possibly the un-surliest person ever to work in a shop, sums it up nicely: "Skate shops exist to support scenes. Their role is to help out locals, put on events, and offer strong coffee to regulars. I want people to feel welcome – ask where the spots are, get stickers for nothing and come skate with us."

These are not the empty words of a marketing ploy. The first thing you'll see in the shop is a big map of Scotland with pins stuck in all the best places to skate, and there are back issues of skate mags on sale for £1. Bargain. The shop itself is a nice place to be; light and airy with a high arch for a ceiling, wooden floors, big windows, mellow tunes - they have a vinyl only policy - and a massive mural done by Ray of Uncle John and Whitelock fame, whose bandmate Jamie is Mark's other half in the running of the shop. Because that's what Focus is all about, there is a community feel to everything.

This, according to Mark, is what separates it from most other skate shops: "It's 100 per cent skater owned and run, and everything we do is to improve the Edinburgh and Glasgow scene. We use our space and our resources as best we can to help out local folk." This means showing premieres of skate films, sponsoring deserving local skaters in need, putting on performances by Glasgow bands outside the shop, even laying on barbecues in Kelvingrove Park after demos and signings from the likes of John Rattray and Rick McCrank. The shop has even been given a grant to play with for this September's Merchant City Festival, no doubt in recognition of services to the community.

There will be plenty of lovely new things arriving in the shop this autumn upon which to spend your student loan or hard-earned wage. Limited edition Nike SBs will be hitting the shoe shelves, as will new styles from Vans, Etnies, Osiris and Laquai. And if that's not enough exclusivity, Focus will be stocking new lines from UARM and the Delphi collective, both of whom commission artists such as Mark Gonzales and Matt Irving (respectively) to design individual T-shirts.

Even if you couldn't pull off a kickflip to save your own life, Focus is a great wee place to do some highly ethical local shopping and find out some cool stuff about what's going on in your local skate scene.

Edinburgh Store: Focus Skateboard Store, 44 West Port, Grassmarket, Edinburgh, EH1 2LD, Tel. 0131 229 9009.

Glasgow Store: Focus Skateboard Store, Unit 7 Kings Court, 99 King Street,
Glasgow G1 5RB, Tel. 0141 548 8777.