An imaginary diagonal line could split Board Shops of America in half with its uncommon pairing of video games and skateboards. The individuality of the store makes it stand out from the rest of the skateboard stores in Riverside.
The shop, run by Jim Smith for the past dozen years, has sold a combination of boards and vintage video games since he took ownership of the building in 2003.
“I owned a (video game) store down the street 12 years ago, then bought this store and brought all of my stuff with me,” Smith said.
The store is tucked into a small lot at 3971 Tyler St., where it has stood since 1995, when Board Shops of America originally opened.
On one half of the store are rows of colorful skateboard decks, trucks and wheels, and other skateboarding essentials. BSA sells blank skateboard decks for $19, a deal unrivaled throughout Riverside.
The other half of the store is decked out with vintage video games of all kinds, ranging from the original Nintendo Entertainment System to more modern Xbox and PlayStation titles.
At the store, Smith offers testing for all electronics purchases in order to ensure that the customer is getting exactly what he or she pays for. He has been working in the video game business since 1990, and said he enjoys the experience of work- ing directly with customers.
Mike Coco, resident skateboard expert and longtime employee, has worked at the shop since it opened.
“I have been here 20 years, and I have seen everyone grow up through working at the shop,” Coco said. “The shop now is different; there is no place like this. Half video games, half board shop.”
Coco has been around skateboards and the culture from the time he rode for skate teams when he was younger, when he made demo tapes with Tony Hawk and other skateboarders who went professional.
Smith noted that the store’s customer service policy is quite different from other store policies. Any board bought from the store is serviced free of charge for the lifespan of the board.
Truck repairs, bearing replacement and wheel adjustments are just a few of the repair services that Coco will handle for his customers.
Smith and Coco complement each other well, with Smith running the video game side of the store, and Coco the board shop.
“They always have tons of the best skate product,” said Tyler Cole, recurring customer at Board Shops of America. “(They) will bend over backwards to order you anything you want they may not have.”