Well, skateboarding is pretty unique. Who runs skateboarding? Who decides what skateboarding will look like? Who defines skateboard tricks? Think about that - with sports, there's a group that decides these things. With skateboarding, all of these things are decided in an organic, bizarre group way. In truth, YOU decide these things. You decide them by what you do at the park. You decide them by what you buy. And it's at your local skate shops that most skater culture forms and settles. It's at your local skate shops that new skaters learn what it means to BE a skater.
Now, a lot of this also happens at skateparks, too. But a lot of skateparks are run down, or have people biking or rollerblading or doing other strange things. The skate shop is where the heart of your local skateboarding scene can be found.
And, if you don't buy stuff from them, they'll shut down! And then how will you know about local demos? How will you know about local contests? And how will you meet other skaters, or get skating advice? You'll have to start taking out a Craigslist add, and that's just creepy!
Now that I've beat the local skate shop's value into your head, I'm going to pull a 180 and say the next best place is to shop online! For some skaters, there just aren't local skate shops anywhere nearby. Or maybe yours is run by a creepy Vietnam war vet who always seems to be itchy. Whatever your reason, there ARE good times to shop online (though skate shops and online retailers often fight)! Also, you can get some screaming good deals online. You won't get any personal help, and usually you'll get terrible customer service, but sometimes it's worth it! The trick to shopping for your skate gear online is to already know what you want BEFORE you go looking. Otherwise, you'll see an ocean of decks, all with similar stats and prices, and you'll lock up and start crying. It's happened.
But WHERE to shop online?? That's the key, isn't it? Luckily for you, I have this handy list of Top 5 Online Skateboard Shops to suggest to you. Let me reassure you that I don't make money for advertising these to you. These are shops that are trustworthy, and that I think bring something unique to the table. Check 'em out and see what you think!
Now, here's where I'm going to get really slimy. Your third option... so say you don't have a local skate shop, AND you don't want to shop online... I'm honestly having a hard time thinking of the situation where someone would be online, reading this article, but NOT be OK with shopping online... maybe you live in England, where you'll get taxed up the wazoo if you order a skateboard from an American website. Or maybe your parents won't let you shop online. Or maybe you just really want to see a board in person before you buy it... These are all possible. So, if you find yourself in one of these EXTREME situations, then there's a third option for you... you can buy your skateboard parts and equipment at a huge chain store, like a sporting goods store, or ... Zumiez ... (I think I just threw up a little)
All joking aside, here's my problem with buying from stores like that - I don't want you supporting businesses that are ONLY in it for the money, and who aren't putting anything back into the skateboarding community or culture. Now, here's the thing - SOME of those stores are run by people who actually love skateboarding, and who care! It happens! Zumiez has been actively trying to change this image by bringing in skate demos and having couches in their stores so you can hang out there. The problem is, the people working there still so often know NOTHING about skateboarding... and that's a problem. But still, I'm getting less comfortable with lumping them all together anymore. So, that being said, it's another option! If you want to know even more, you can read The Problem with Zumiez. It's educational!
And for you poor skaters overseas, you might have no other real choice but to go to a sporting goods store or something like that. I talked with a skater in Dubai who told me that there, the only option was a sports equipment store. A skater in Egypt had the same problem. You've gotta work with what you've got!
So, I hope this helps you figure out where to buy skateboards, skateboard parts and equipment. If you still have questions, feel free to email me! I'm always around.