Shop Spotlight: Burning Spider Stoke Company
We here at Loaded Boards are immeasurably grateful to our retail partners all around the world. They are the ones spreading the stoke, educating, hosting events, and building community day in and day out.
We wanted to start giving a shout out to some of these local shops, and introduce the world to the welcoming faces putting in the long hours to spread the stoke of skate.
This week we chatted with the exuberant Joe Burnham from Burning Spider Stoked Company in Kansas City, MO. Joe took us through how he got the shop started, how he stays stoked when times are hard, what he and the team are doing to build their skate community, and of course where to grab lunch just a short skate away from the shop.
Give me some history on the shop, how'd you start and what drove you to open the shop?
"Our shop started in our garage, but before that our mission was to gather the community together. Kansas City is really spread out over a huge area, and as we skated around finding spots we would run into a handful of people in one part of the city, then the next day we would run into another dude, and so on and so on, with a common theme of “Yo I am the only long boarder in the city.” There wasn’t an active FB group, and the only real skate shop in the area had zero interest in carrying longboard gear, or supporting the community. I had been in corporate retail for close to 15 years at that time studying to open my own store, the longboard explosion that happened around 2010 was in full swing, so it was time as good a time as any to bring our brand of service to the skate world, and take Kansas City from a band of random dudes to a Midwest hive of stoke slinging longboard riding wild dudes."
How would you describe your local scene?
"I would describe our local scene as just getting started, full potential as yet to be realized, hyperactive really stoked peoples. Our riders span styles across the miles of the metro that is available to skate. We’ve got 5 different mostly paved trail systems in all corners of the city for LDP. Our short mostly quarter mile long, steep hills offer ample opportunity for free ride, with out a huge walk back to the top. Most of our steeper faster hills are full grip, so newer riders tend to advance fairly quickly in downhill. We have close by access to the Springfield/ Branson homies for the next level of free ride and downhill. With the terrain, even our casual riders have to be able to deal with hills, and traffic so I feel like we have a lot of really capable riders that are super fun to skate with, and chomping at the bit for that next level in ability."
What are some things you are doing to build community?
"There are a couple of areas we focus on to keep our community stoked. Although some of the methods have changed with the times, the ideals are the same. We needed a tool for our community to be able to talk to each other, organize sessions, give direct information to, and empower our members. At first this was the Facebook group we started before the shop was around, but as Facebook revealed its interest was more in control than empowerment we moved our communication to our own Discord server. This has become a big tool in communicating all of the fun things going on, sessions, group rides, gear talk, fresh things in the shop, all that day to day hype, but being able to directly communicate with people is a huge huge corner stone, so as we get better at using Discord, there is a lot of fun stuff we can use to keep people engaged and informed.
The next huge huge thing we have been doing for the past 9 years is our monthly Stoke Clinics. There is very little flat areas in town for new riders to learn on. So even our newer riders deal with 20 + MPH hills really early on. So every second Sunday we bring out every board in the shops quiver (mostly provided by Loaded), and we get people started. We start be teaching our riders how to stop, foot-breaking techniques, and carving. The whole set of skills a rider needs can be developed where we teach so hopefully by teaching these techniques early on in the riders career we can keep riders around longer. At the Stoke Clinics we have people who have never even stood on a board before, to sponsored riders, we’ve got 3 year olds to 69 year olds, and every style of person you could possible think of, and everyone comes together has an absolute blast and leaves with a firm grasp of the basics so they can explore on their own if they like.
The next big thing is working with the other community members who have a strong desire to lead and to support their ideas in the community. This Shralpers Union ideal has spawned some really fun activities in our community as well as given ideas to surrounding communities in our state and beyond. Finding ways to empower these different leaders to do their own thing, hopefully connecting them with other leaders, and other communities is huge. As we get better at doing this our community has gotten stronger, and more diverse, and I think this has also given real ownership to the community, it’s not just about our shop, it’s about what our shop can do to help make the community a better place to skate in."
Running an independent shop is hard, what keeps you motivated?
"Our mission is a question, and it’s a question without an answer. How cool can we make it? How much fun can we instigate in our community and beyond? How can we provide the service, the support, and the gear that is needed to instigate more fun in the community. If we do our job good enough then we get to keep asking this question daily. In many ways longboading saved my life, the absolute least I can do is to work hard for our community so that maybe I can return the favor and introduce someone else to this, so they can be lifted up too. We are so grateful to have been around for 11 years, even the most difficult of times and challenges that inevitably arise from running a business and day to day survival, is an opportunity to serve and get stronger. I look out the windows of the shop every day and see how skating can lift people up, and how truly empowering skating is, and I see a world that needs it, needs its lessons, and it’s ideals, needs it’s challenges. The world needs us, the world needs our communities, and even if we can’t do it as big as the popular dudes, we all have a place, we all can contribute. There is Room Enough in skateboarding for everyone, and the more different people in skateboarding the better it is. Being of service to as many different peoples as we can is what keeps us plugging away."
If you are skating to grab lunch by the shop, where are you going and what are you ordering?
"Ooooh boi! Now we into the hard questions. I guess it depends on who I am with, and what they feel like eating. Never been to KC before? Well, we have to go to Q39 and sample some legendary BBQ. Those dudes have a Burnt End Burger that is my go to, follow it up with some Boulevard Tank 7 straight from the tap, and you’ve got some of the best flavors in KC all in one place. West 39th Street has so much food to choose from. Aladdin’s for the legendary Mediterranean food, Taqueria La Nueva has the best street tacos on the block, we’ve even got a pretty solid New York style slice at Pizza Tascio if you are in a hurry to get to the next spot to skate."
Thanks to Joe for the insight and endless amounts of joy and energy. If you are in the Kansas City area, of course go check them out, but to keep up with them from afar check them out @burningspiderstokecompany or at their website.