Why Have Skateboards Cost $50 for 30 Years? | Economic lessons from the Worlds only inflation free product
The economics of skateboarding is a strange one. The very essence of skateboarding is the deck itself. That piece of wood that brings us so much joy interestingly enough doesn’t really make brands much money nor has its price risen in about 3-decades. Compare this to just about anything else in the entire universe and it’s even more shocking. Also pro skaters (unless you were Bam or Muska) make most their money off shoe sponsors and energy drinks and use hardgoods sponsors as more of a core score booster.
Why? Well VICE broke it down for us. Now go buy some hardgoods, probably the best deal there is.
When I started buying skateboards in the late 90s, pro model decks were around $45. The shops I grew up with in East County San Diego have all closed, but about 20 minutes away is a shop called Pacific Drive, where pro models are still $45. I live in New York now, where skateboards are slightly pricier; at Labor in Chinatown, they’re $53, and at KCDC, near the VICE office in Williamsburg, they’re around $55. (Almost everything costs more in New York; a Chipotle burrito, for example, is $1.55 more here than the national average.) Every skateboarder I know—from around the country—has had a similar experience. Forty-two dollars in 1989 is the equivalent of $84 today, but somehow, give or take a few bucks, skateboards have stayed the same price, almost completely resisting inflation. While there are many potential reasons for the stagnant prices, it seems to be a rather extreme version of what economists call “price stickiness.”
The first thing to realize is that skate shops make very little money from decks. As one KCDC employee told me, “Anyone that owns a shop will tell you, you’re not in it to make money off the skateboards. The skateboards are here because we’re providing a service for a community, but we’re making most of our money on soft goods and shoes.”