Author: Stacy Gonzalez, BSU student
John Nichols and Bobby (Bobby Gold) DePesa co-own and operate two businesses under one roof on Route 53 in Norwell. Strategically marketed separately to maintain the integrity of their brands, John and Bobby welcome customers to both Technical Skate Shop and Inclusion Records located on the lower level of the business. Technical Skate Shop opened in 2000 and in 2006 a second location on Newbury Street in Boston was opened.
In 2015 Inclusion Records was formed. John and Bobby truly have a passion for keeping both the sport of skateboarding and the art of vinyl alive in the community.
Why did you choose this line of business?
“I am a firm believer of giving back to the community. I grew up in this area and I felt that there were certain things lacking that I wanted to be involved in, whether it be skateboarding or art. I opened the store shortly after college essentially just to build on the brand but also sell skateboards and BMX stuff and to be involved in the community.”
Why did you want to start this business?
“I had been involved in action sports. Truth be told, when I first started, I wanted to be involved in the industry and offer something that was lacking in the community. Probably three days in, it was more important to be involved with people. My whole interest in this store is my ability to deal with and talk to people and learn people’s stories, that really became what I love about this store.”
What was the toughest thing you went through when opening?
“Raising Capital. I took an American Express small business loan out and once I got approved for that then the ball was rolling. I was 23 years old when I opened and did not have a lot of credit. The only way to start the business was to get something like American Express to approve me. American Express took a chance on an idea that I had, and from that point the other banks were willing to lend money because they had seen that I had paid American Express.”
What would you have done differently?
“I like where I’m at now, so if I was to change anything it would change this course. In 2006 I had Joey Kramer come in as a business partner and we opened a new location. I had this store for 6 years but still had no idea what I was doing, and I had to figure it out on Newbury Street. That new knowledge was helpful when Inclusion Records opened. From Newbury Street, I think this place gained a lot more professionalism, and I think that if I could have done anything differently, I would have been a little more professional in some of the ways I conducted business.”
What is the toughest part about having a business in 2020?
“The toughest part of having a brick and mortar business in 2020 is competing with the internet. Customers have to choose to buy stuff from you. You have to make people feel like they’re a part of the store. If you let people come in on the ordering, then you almost become a personal shopper for them. Having a personal shopper makes people feel appreciated more than the internet would.”
What makes you stand out?
“We stand out 100% because of our attention to the customer. When I first opened the skateboard shop, all of a sudden shops started popping up everywhere; those stores have all closed. We’re the third oldest skateboard shop in Massachusetts, and there’s none other around here. What type of variety can we offer and are we going to know people’s names when they come into the store, and are they going to feel like they’re a part of the business? We’re more willing to let people in, and if you let people feel like they’re a part of the store, it will benefit.”
How do you bring in new customers?
“Social media has been so important for the record store. We take records that we have coming in and post them on Instagram. When people see the posts they call and ask us to hold the item. It’s a way that customers can personally look at what we offer. Skateboards are more marketed through the after-school skateboarding classes and community programs that Bobby offers. If we do an after-school class and there’s 60 people in the class, all those kids are going to want to get skateboards here and that’s way more potent than social media.”