Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Interview Wednesdays: Bill Ackerman

Bill and one of his early boards

Bill's Wheels on Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz

Bill Ackerman is the owner of Bill's Wheels Skateshop in Santa Cruz, CA.

Jay and I were staying in Santa Cruz a few weekends ago and Jay said, "Let's go to Bill's Wheels - this place is a skateboarding institution". We walked in and I immediately felt this really good vibe. There were 3 guys working there. 2 of them looked to be early 20's and the other guy maybe old enough to be their dad. They were all friendly and helpful and the older guy looked so cool. I wondered, is that Bill? Yes it was.

Jay struck up a conversation with him and told Bill that when he was a kid back in Baltimore, he got skateboarding magazines and remembered the ads for Bill's Wheels. Around this moment, I got a scary feeling inside and knew I had to ask Bill if I could interview him. A very small interview, I would make it 3 questions. He is a kind person and he obliged.

Jamie: What is your favorite thing about your job?

Bill: Working with kids.

Jamie: What inspired you to open your own shop?

Bill: A love for skateboarding. When I was younger I worked in a sport shop. The shop started carrying skateboards as skateboarding was just becoming popular. I ran that department and I enjoyed helping the customers. When the shop went out of business a year later, I started my own skateboard shop. That was 31 years ago, in 1977.

Jamie: What was your first skateboard and when did you get into the sport?

Bill: My first board had metal wheels. I think one of my first boards is in a closet somewhere in the shop.

I started skateboarding when I worked in that sport shop. I used to compete, doing high-jumping. I jumped cars too. My idol at the time was Brian Beardsley.

Jamie: Thanks Bill.

If you're ever in Santa Cruz, be sure to stop by this awesome skate shop and say hello to Bill and his friendly employees. Make sure to check out the collection of old boards in the front window, and ask Bill to show you the photo of him jumping that yellow car, behind the cash register. Also, you can't go wrong if you pick up a Bill's Wheel's t-shirt. They are too cool.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

I admire how you got a scary feeling and knew exactly what you had to do with it. I wonder if Bill had a scary feeling when his employer went out of business and he took the plunge into entrepreneurship?