The Don’t Do It Foundation: Fighting To Save Specialty Retailers

 As the world of action sports has evolved into a staple of the mainstream, chain sporting goods stores have taken it upon themselves to outfit the masses, often throwing the smaller, local shops to the dogs. By sponsoring local riders, creating teams, hosting events, contests, demos, and more, core shops--those born out of passion and rooted in the industry--act as a solid support system for those fanatical shred-heads that breathe life into the surf, skate, and snow scenes. Describing themselves as “a movement to empower those that built and nurtured this industry to get it to where it is today,” the Don’t Do It army is urging consumers to boycott the big wigs, and steer their money and their backing to the shops that have been around since day one.

Steve “Birdo” Guisinger, founder/co-owner of Consolidated Skateboards, has been going punch-for-punch with mega-corporations for years, and is now focused on educating skaters about the importance of supporting their local skate shops. He created the non-profit Don’t Do It Foundation.

Guisinger notes that this movement isn’t anti-commercial, but rather a stance against the co-opting of the soul of action sports. For its part, Consolidated Skateboards will only sell its products to core shops, even posting a list on its website of the stores that made the cut. The company also implemented its "Thank Local" program- selling boards to Santa Cruz area skate shops at cost, allowing those shops to turn around and sell Consolidated boards to consumers at a steep discount. Speaking to Jessica Lyons of the Santa Cruz Weekly, Guisinger stated, "The only way for local stores to survive is to drive mall chains out of business," he explains. "So we want people at whatever cost to not support the mall chain. You vote with your money. If you go to the mall chains, you're only empowering them. Go to your local skate shop. If you don't have a local skate shop, buy online from a local company."

"The healthiest and most successful ecosystems are the ones that support the most diversity. As humans, business is our ecosystem, and our distribution systems are the mom-and-pop, core shops. If one goes out of business, the other ones can fill in. It's so fragile, if the core shops go out of business and if Foot Locker decides not to carry skateboards--if they decide it's no longer profitable--then skateboarding just disappears."

The industry has come to recognize that in order for those same mom-and-pop skate shops to thrive, they have to carry product that is in demand. As Jason Strubing, owner of Santa Cruz-based Skateworks, notes, "It's kind of a tricky one to work around," he says. "If a company like Nike is throwing money around and bringing money into the stakeboarding industry, there are benefits to that. We carry Nike because I feel like if a kid has chosen Nike as a brand he can identify with, then who am I to say no because of the politics behind it?”

John Florence, Joel Tudor, Liam Mcnamara are a few of the athletes lending their names to the foundation, which has an artillery of propaganda aimed at the mega-outlets. To spread the Don’t Do It Army’s message, stickers- for skateboards, computers, random mailboxes, etc- shoes, shirts, hats, and skateboard decks can be bought via the foundation’s website.