Unconventional Small Business Strategy: Athens Skate Shop Gets Creative

Sebastian Uhde is an Athens native and owner of Earthcruzerz longboards. His shop opened last April and has been growing ever since — bringing in new customers like Jesse Conrad.

“It was awesome. Sebastian was super helpful and it was really nice of him to make some time,” said Conrad who recently took up longboarding as a way to stay physically fit.

But Earthcruzerz isn’t your average skate shop. If you take one step—literally–outside of his shop you’ll see that it operates out of a storage unit. It’s unconventional, but it’s Uhde’s way of dealing with the cost of running a small business.

“Why should we go pay $1,500, $2,000 in rent,” said Uhde.

So he got creative.

“What else could we do? Well, a storage unit could be kinda cool,” said Uhde.

His girlfriend and business partner, Adrienne Shoots, was skeptical of the idea at first.

“The first time he ever said it I was like, ‘what?’,” said Shoots.

She came around to the idea, and their business grew from a 10 by 10 unit to a 10 by 15 unit. Earthcruzerz shows a growing trend among Athens businesses.

“Now you look at downtown, there’s very few mom and pop shops left,” said Uhde.

Uhde says that Athens is appealing to higher paying business customers now—chains like Zaxby’s and Urban Outfitters. This leaves many local businesses to find new ways to cut costs.

“It’s a dance, it’s a tango. But hey, that’s business,” said Uhde.

More businesses may have to dance around those shop costs. Uhde says he doesn’t think this solution would work for all businesses, but he thinks that alternative spaces like his storage unit and even collaboration among businesses could become more common.

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By: Grace Holland

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