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Local Longboard is on a creative roll in St. Pete

A Local longboard lives up to its name. Its handcrafted deck is made of an exotic hardwood with a maple core from Central Florida. The wheels come from a manufacturer in St. Petersburg or Jacksonville. A few are designed by local artists. When the board leaves the Local Longboard Company to cruise down the Pinellas Trail or go for a smooth ride in Vinoy Park, the money generated will continue to circulate in the community.

"Something that we really try to (do is) incorporate the arts and other people in the community and try to deliver artwork in a new way," co-owner Jon Stine said.

Stine's company is one of a few longboard manufacturers in the area. Just three months old, the shop at 659 Central Ave. features a wide selection of longboards, parts and apparel, including an array of the handmade Local brand boards. It's one of the only skate shops dedicated to longboards.

"Ours I like to think of as surfboards," he said.

Like old-school surfboards, each deck is created by hand. The process takes about a week. Stine and co-owner Travis Hise make boards in batches of about 10, gluing the raw piece of wood to a form before it is pressed for a few hours. Then it's set out to dry.

"Since everything is hand-glued and hand-done, it takes a little bit more time," Stine said. "We go through and put the layers together the appropriate way and look for imperfections. It's a labor of love."

In this case, laboring for love means no computerized systems. Each board is cut, rounded and sanded by hand before graphics and a finish are applied.

"Our name's on it. And it matters to us," Stine said. "It's our word. It's our image. This is something we want to be very proud of, and you should be very proud of, too," as a buyer.

Besides quality control, Stine hopes Local will be known for inspiring unity.

Stine and Hise were inspired by skate cultures in California and Colorado. In both states, local vendors collaborate to manufacture parts and produce boards locally, but Stine found that the same wasn't true for Florida.

"Nobody knew one another," Stine said of the local shops. "We wanted to be the hub so all of these small little fires burning around the area could be a little more consolidated, and all these companies could join forces and be a part of the culture in Florida."

To build that culture, they focused on their immediate area — the 600 block of Central. Local provided 50 decks in April to various artists, who created unique designs for a show at the shop, splitting the proceeds evenly between the artist and Local. The artists are also featured on the shop's website, locallongboards.com.

"Back in the day it used to be a lot about customer service," Hise said. "And especially when you get in the big chain stores and stuff, you kind of lose that personal feeling and customer relationship."

Sean Marra, 44, came to the shop to buy a skateboard for his 6-year-old son. They didn't have the exact model in stock, so Hise called a chain store that did. Marra was so impressed by Hise's willingness to go the extra mile that he came back and bought a board for himself.

"I know that if I've got to bring this in to do something simple," Marra said, "I'm going to bring it to Travis and they're going to do it."

Contact Malena Carollo at mcarollo@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8215.

Local Longboard is on a creative roll in St. Pete 07/09/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 9, 2014 4:36pm]
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