Thursday, May 10, 2012

RIP Mile High Skates. It's the end of an era!

Mile High Skates has gone out of business. I lament.

In 2004, I saw my first longboard skateboard an knew right away that I wanted one. I convinced my parents to buy me my first longboard instead of a bike when I went off to college. I got a beautiful, 47" Sector 9 bamboo pintail with Exkate Torsion trucks, 70mm Kryptonics, and no-name bearings (the board was stolen from me a few years ago, and I still miss it). When it arrived, I rode it so much that the grip tape had a foot-sized bald spot on my third day of ownership. Not long after that, I broke the trucks and had my first experience with longboard skate-related customer service.

Exkate sent me replacements for free, but the process took a while. In the meantime, I borrowed a friend's girlfriend's trucks. As I rode more, I became increasingly interested in the gear I rode and spent a slightly unhealthy amount of time participating at the Silverfish Longboarding forums. There, among many helpful skaters from around the world, I came across Mile High Mark and his online store, Mile High Skates.

At the time, online vendors of longboard skateboards were few and far between, but Mark stood as a unique model from which many other stores would follow in the years to come. All of the gear he carried was solid gear. He offered them at reasonable prices and, above all, made customer service a priority. He'd patiently answer any questions a buyer might have, give his recommendations, and include plenty of cool, free goodies with purchases. For example, he went out of his way to include a non-skate-related sticker that was funny and relatable to my personality. After establishing myself as a gearhead, he even asked me for advice on a particular setup. For me, it was like Mark Twain asking me for writing advice: he probably didn't need it, but it was thrilling that he asked. 

Now granted, I spent a lot of money at Mark's store which never hurts in the customer service department, but he actively participated on the online conversation, sponsored skate events before they were profitable, and really contributed to the helpful, open vibe that I felt characterized the longboard skateboard scene. 

I write this partially as a eulogy of sorts but more so as a huge, celebratory "Thank you!" to Mark for the countless hours of skate-induced joy I've had over the years. To this day, I continue to ride gear I bought at your store and thank that it made certain setup options available that I wouldn't have had otherwise. 

Loose trucks save lives and are best for sliding my friend. Enjoy some pie.

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