What I like about the Gulf Coast Skate Shop is that you can walk in — as a very ignorant dorky parent (like me) — and get patient, knowledgeable and unpretentious help.
Another plus for parents is that Gulf Coast Skate Shop emphasizes rider safety and sells a full line of the best protective gear.
They support the Ian Tilmann Foundation, which was began after a local skater, Ian Tilmann, suffered a fatal brain injury from a longboarding accident. The foundation gives out free helmets to skaters who promise to wear them.
Rob Vaillancourt Jr., the owner of the shop, built his childhood love for skating into what we know as the Gulf Coast Skate Shop 10 years ago.
His expertise, passion and knowledge have kept him open since 2001.
The shop sells shortboards — the iconic skateboards that you would think of skaters riding at Stirling Skate Park in the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center — including brands like DGK, Plan B and boards made by the locally owned design company Murder Ride.
It also carries a wide selection of longboards including Rayne, Sector 9 and another local company Klever. It is also an exclusive vendor for Land Yachtz. Longboards are (obviously) longer and built for speed and distance. These boards are used for commuting around town and for competitive racing.
Longboarding is one of the fasting growing sports in the world, and Vaillancourt’s vision is to help build its American audience. The shop is sponsoring King of Clermont 2012, a downhill longboarding competition at Sugarloaf Mountain in Clermont, FL, on Jan. 14 and 15.
Gulf Coast Skate Shop prides itself in being the only skate shop in Florida that specializes in both street/ramp skating and all forms of longboarding. Recently changing location, the shop now resides in Nezis Plaza on the north side of Main Street between Pinehurst Boulevard and Keene Road in Dunedin.
Aside from watching the sport of longboarding grow, one of the highlights of owning the shop, for Vaillancourt, is the ability to promote up-and-coming skaters. His team of 15 skaters come from the local area as well as from around the world. By being a sponsor, Gulf Coast Skate Shop helps skaters with equipment and apparel. (For more information on becoming part of the Gulf Coast Skate Shop Team, visit the website.)
Gift Idea: The shop carries accessories, if you've got a skater on your holiday shopping list. It's got shoes, shirts, hats and wallets, among other accessories.
Want to go?
Where: Gulf Coast Skate Shop, 1346 Main St.
Contact: 727-412-8084, www.gulfcoastskateshop.com
Hours: Monday through Sunday, noon to 7 p.m.