We caught up with Keven Stern of Sidewalk Surfer, Arizona’s original skateshop. This unshakeable Scottsdale staple has grown tremendously in the last 40-some years, welcoming skaters of all stripes.
I see that Sidewalk Surfer’s been around for a little while now. Can you give us a rundown of how you came to be?
We started October 15, 1977. The owner is a woman named Sandie Hamilton and she started it because there were no skateshops in Arizona at the time. There were only bike shops you could buy skateboards from. So she decided to take a little money she had saved and start a shop. And that’s how it got started in only 250 square feet.
And the rest is history, right?
The rest is history so to speak! Yeah, we’ve moved around, always in Scottsdale, but this is our third spot. So we’ve gotten progressively bigger as we’ve moved, you know, from 250 square feet, then 2500 square feet, and now we’re in 5000 square feet.
That’s fantastic! So tell me a little about your background as a skater.
So I’m one of the managers here; there’s 3 of us that run the store. The owner Sandie retired in 2005, and we worked with her, and we’ve run it for her since then. I’ve been doing this for 29 years. I’ve been at Sidewalk Surfer for almost 25 of those 29 years. The other two managers have been here for 40 years, and they’ve worked here since 1981. So yeah. That’s our background.
Do you skate yourself?
I do, yeah. As you get older and you get more responsibilities and become a parent and all that stuff, it gets harder, but yes, ultimately we’re all skateboarders.
What would you say is Sidewalk Surfer’s mission right now?
Provide product and knowledge to consumers, customers, clientele, skateboarders. Have them be happy with their experience, and feel good about their purchases. Making sure you tell them the right stuff, you know what I mean? Make sure they are happy with what they’re doing, the decisions they’re making. Really trying to guide the new generation with the right info.
Do you have any local events you participate in, or anything coming up?
We help out a lot with local contests. There’s a Scottsdale park near us called the Wedge Skatepark. Were the primary sponsor for the Wedge contest which, obviously it didn’t happen last year, but it’s usually in March. We provide for that and other contests and events, too. The only ones we aren’t directly involved with are Cowtown’s PHXAM event. That’s their baby so to speak, Cowtown being the other shop out here.
What are some of the more exciting products you carry in your shop right now?
I think our hard goods selection in general, whether it be regular skateboards, longboards, cruisers, is pretty strong. I mean, we go heavy in apparel — it’s big. Footwear is big. We do solid with hardgoods. That’s a big part of us: boards, trucks, wheels, footwear. We do a little bit of everything!
Any specific brands you like to support?
Skate One, we have a super good relationship with them. Baker Boys, we have a super good relationship with them. Deluxe. And then footwear side, Vans, we do super well with. Nike we do well with, and Soul Deck.
Have you had any special visitors or fun stories you’d like to share with us?
Special visitors, oh goodness. Let’s see. Gosh, there’s a lot of good ones here. One of my favorite ones, personally, was when Shaquille O’Neal came to our shop and had to duck under every single door jamb and door frame when he walked through the store. Couldn’t have been a nicer guy and he was the largest person I’d ever seen in my entire life. And his hand was equally large when I shook it. He’s a big dude. So that was really good. Tom Cruise was here when they were filming Jerry Maguire, ‘cause that was filmed a lot in Arizona. He came in here. Again, another super nice guy. Did a little bit of shopping and stuff while he was here. We’ve had our share of, you know, celebrities and actors and sports people. When you’re around for 44 years, you kinda see a lot!
Can you leave us with your thoughts on how skaters can get involved in their own communities at home?
Sure! I’d say the best thing to do, I’ve always found that the cities you live in, their parks and rec programs either know of or are trying to put on events for certain skateparks. Also, go to your local shop. Always ask them about what events are coming up. Or if there’s nothing coming up, you can just try to help out in other ways. A lot of it revolves around your local skatepark, so if you’re there and you see good things happening, encourage it. If you see bad things happening, say something. So I think there’s a lot that can be done through your local parks.
Thanks so much for chatting with us today!
Sidewalk Surfer is Arizona’s longest-running skateshop, and one of the most established in the country. You can visit them at 2602 N. Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale, AZ or online on Instagram, Facebook, and sidewalksurfer.com
The original Sidewalk Surfer Shop