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Skateboard shops are popping up all over

Soterios Sam Anagnostou is co-owner with BrianJensen of Exev, the newest skateboard shop in the Rogue Valley. There aresix such shops in the Medford area, and a seventh will open in a coupleof weeks.

Fueled by youthful enthusiasm over boards on wheels, skate shops arebecoming nearly as numerous in the Rogue Valley as convenience marts.

The newest addition to the skateboard scene is Exev, which opened at130 S. Central Ave. in Medford on Sunday. The shop is a reincarnation ofthe former Nit Witz Surf & Sport on Kennet Street in Medford, whichwas one of the original skate shops in the Rogue Valley.

The new shop has Gothic decor, baggy clothes for boys, slinky polyesterdresses and halter tops for girls and, of course, skateboards. Already teensare hanging out there.

It's some place you can go without being harassed, said 17-year-oldTrevor Brown, as he watched skateboarders doing tricks on a video set upin the shop.

This is our store. This is our home, said Josh Nilsen, 17.

Another shop, part of a California-based chain called Hot Skates, willbe opening in the Blue SKy Plaza at Biddle and McAndrews roads in the nextfew weeks ­ bringing to seven the number of shops in the Medford areadedicated to skateboarding gear, clothing and accessories. (Most of thosealso carry snowboarding equipment).

I think skateboarding is skyrocketing, said Colby Pangle,26, manager of locally owned Mad Dog's in the Rogue Valley Mall. There'smore companies, manufacturers and ... more stores in the area.

There are two skateboarding shops in the Rogue Valley Mall, Mad Dog'sand Zumiez, a Washington-based store that originally only carried cutting-edgefashion but branched into the skateboard business a few years back.

Also in Medford, in addition to Exev is Four-One-Seven, a 900-square-footshop at 427 E. Main St. On the border of Medford and Central Point at 3620South Pacific Highway is Outlaw Skate, a shop attached to a private skateboardpark.

In Ashland, Low Down Boards not only provides skateboards and their fashions,but body piercing as well. It was one of the first skateboard shops to emergein the Rogue Valley five years ago.

Then there was about 10 or 20 kids skating (in Ashland) everyday,remembers Rueben Davis, the 25-year-old owner. Now there's a hundredor so kids skating every day.

After years of working an extra job to keep his shop afloat, Davis finallystarted seeing profits last year.

On the whole skateboarding in the last two or three years has justboomed, he said. In part the shop has been responsible for thatin Ashland, but on the whole, skateboarding is just big everywhere.

Davis is a regular at city council meetings around the valley wheneverthe subject of skateboarding or skateboard parks come up. He encouragesteens to get involved in government to make things happen. He believes theinvolvement translates into customer loyalty.

Some of the shops, though, are being hurt by the increasing competition.Jerry Dunlava, 32, said the past three months have been tough for his shop,Four-One-Seven.

There's so many shops in this town, and the town isn't big enough,he said.

And many are worried about the newest competition moving in.

I believe competition is good, it can give consumers the best dealsthey can get, but I wish shops from California would stay in their area,said Soterios Sam Anagnostou, 25, a partner in Exev. He notedthat local shop owners have been involved with youth

and have worked hard to develop a skateboarding community in the RogueValley.

We want to give kids a way to get off the streets and into skateparks,Anagnostou said.

Skateboard shops are popping up all over