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Matt Gatzke is one of the co-owners of THIS Skate & Snow at 625 1st Ave. N. in downtown Fargo. David Samson / The Forum
Matt Gatzke is one of the co-owners of THIS Skate & Snow at 625 1st Ave. N. in downtown Fargo. David Samson / The Forum

Skateboard fans open store

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region Park Rapids, 56470

Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Four local skateboarders have launched the store of their dreams.

"It's the kind of store we've always wanted since we were little kids," Nik Jones said.

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He, Matt Gatzke, Jared Lee and Steve Bohr - who range in age from 20 to 26 - have opened THIS Skate & Snow at 625 1st Ave. N. in downtown Fargo.

The store sells skateboarding and snowboarding items.

It also offers in-store arcade games and an Xbox game system for customers to play.

None of the four partners has formal business training, but several have management experience in the skateboarding business, Gatzke said.

"The big thing we have going for us, we're skateboarders ourselves. We know how they think and what they want," he said.

Recent customers included North Dakota State University students Justin Vignes of Delano, Minn., and Matt Pluim of Pipestone, Minn.

"They're local, and they're skateboarders. That makes a difference," Vignes said of the store's proprietors.

There are about 10.1 million skateboarders in the United States, according to an estimate last year by the National Sporting Goods Association.

That number was nearly double the 5.8 million skateboarders a decade earlier, the association said.

Proprietors of THIS Skate & Snow want their sport's popularity to continue growing, so they plan to hold sponsored events aimed primarily at kids.

"They're our future," Jones said.

He and other store proprietors say their customers range in age from children to a few folks in their late 30s.

THIS Skate & Snow should get a boost from a five-story retail/residential building being built across the street.

The top four floors will contain apartments that will house more than 200 North Dakota State University students, at least a few of whom should be skateboarders.

"It can't hurt to have them so close," Gatzke said.

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