Teen's skateboard shop booming

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

HEALY, Kan. -- Ian Youvan, 14, doesn't have to worry about his boss getting mad if he's a little late getting to his after-school work at Wood on Wheels.

That's because he is the boss.

An eighth grader at Pittsburg Community Middle School, Youvan is probably Pittsburg's youngest entrepreneur.

"I just thought it might be fun to put together a skateboard shop," he said.

Youvan, the son of Eric and Marie Youvan, and his father, an area dentist, helps out with some details such as money management.

"This all got started when we talked with Tony Hawk and his son, Riley, at Crown Center in Kansas City," Youvan said. "We had a conversation with them and got even more excited about skateboarding and having a shop."

The two rent the building in Pittsburg, and there's no mistaking what the former diner is all about because there's a large skateboard mounted on the roof.

"I'm not sure about this, but that might be the largest skateboard in Kansas," Youvan said.

The two got their first inventory after finding a partial skateboard shop in New Jersey for sale online.

"They packaged it all up and sent it to me," Ian said. "But we've sold out all that stuff, and I've been ordering more inventory."

"I'm the delivery boy," his father said. "The merchandise comes to the house, and I take it to the shop."

Youvan said the shop, which opened Dec. 1, sells a higher line of skateboards, including Zero, Element, Independent, Habitat and Spitfire.

"You can buy a skateboard for about $10, or you can buy one of these good ones and it will last you a lot longer," he said.

Wood on Wheels also offers more than just skateboards.

"We've got all the protective gear helmets and knee pads and T-shirts, pants, belts," Youvan said. "A lot of people like the belts I carry, and they like beanies and hats, too."

He decorated the shop himself, with green and purple neon on the back wall, many posters and old car seats for chairs. Ian has to plan his store hours around his school schedule, so he's open from 3:15 to 6 p.m. during the week and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends. He usually skateboards from school to the shop and a couple of friends help him out.

Youvan said most of his customers are male, aged from around 8 to adults in their 30s.

"I'm getting in some longboards, which are mainly for adults," he said. "You don't have to go that fast and you don't push that hard. It sort of simulates surfing."

Youvan said he would like to expand the shop, and for that he'll need a larger building. But because he's busy running the store, Youvan doesn't have as much time to skateboard now.

"I used to skate a lot more than I do now, but we've just put together a team, and we're planning to have a competition at the park," he said.

Now and then, Ian will leave a friend in charge of the shop while he takes a break and gets in a little skateboarding. His dad is having a good time, too.

"That little shop has been the ultimate in fun, and it's becoming a little profitable, too," he said. "I thought this would just be a trivial little thing that would keep Ian in clothes and skateboards, but this thing has exploded on me."

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