Todd Canipe is the owner and operator of Vertical Urge, North Carolina’s leading resource for all things skateboarding and snowboarding. We had a great time chatting with Todd, and asked him to answer a couple questions about his store, the store’s vibe and how his personal lifestyle ties into professional. Check out his answers below.
What pulls you into a store?
For me it’s a combination of things. It could be the window display, or even the typeface choices of their logo. We do all of our own graphic design work in house, so I fancy myself an amateur graphic designer. (HA!) I’m always appreciative of the little things a store makes to set them apart from the pack.
What makes Vertical Urge unique?
Combination of things, really. Our large footprint gives us a lot of flexibility in terms of merchandising, etc. We ran the area’s best indoor skate park for a decade (it closed its doors last August), so we had a veritable three ring circus going for a long time. We were constantly putting resources into the park, even though it was losing money, trying to make sure our scene was as healthy as possible.
We hear it all the time: “Is this all you have?” Even a store our size—over 7000 square feet—has to hear that a few times a week. It used to bother the hell out of me, now I just laugh it off and be as helpful as I can.
If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would it be?
Jake Burton, hands down.
Coolest interaction with a customer?
As far as cool customer service stories go, one that sticks out was one time when we had a customer from the coast cruise up and buy some snowboard gear right before a big trip out west. Well, somehow the discs for his bindings were mistakenly left behind. Since we were short on time (he had to catch a plane the following afternoon), our manager Ben told him he would drive them down there. And he did. We honestly have no problem going the extra mile. LITERALLY.
If you could travel anywhere this weekend, where would you go?
Arapahoe Basin. Seems like they’re BLOWING up my social feeds with new snow left and right lately.
How do you keep momentum in the off-season?
We have a pretty strong year round business, so I wouldn’t say we have an off-season. But during the slower months we try to fine-tune our marketing, website, merchandising, etc., always striving to keep things as fresh as possible. It’s all about injecting that energy into the business—both for the customers and for us.
Most memorable moment in the snow?
Honestly, probably almost 20 years ago on our first trip to Jackson Hole. Riding the tram up to the top during white out conditions and realizing we had to actually ride, even though we had never been there and couldn’t see a thing. Making it down from that (during what was my first really big snowboard trip) set the tone for an amazing trip with the guys from the shop. It was one of the best weeks I’ve ever had snowboarding, still to this day.
What brand caught your eye recently?
HUF. They’re doing great for us, and with their strong roots in skateboarding, it’s an easy company to support. They are speaking to the street wear customer AND the skateboard customer. That’s important for us.