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Teen entrepreneurs prove they're no slackers

Not many people would have said that Bremerton needed its own skateboard shop.

That’s not surprising as Slackers typical patrons are a vocal minority.

But Slackers skate shop, on the corner of Burwell and Rainier, opened April 1 and has quickly found its customer base.

The shop was quiet in the early afternoon on Tuesday, May 14 but Carmein Potoski and Dodger Coleman, the owners of Slackers, said that was only because junior school had not let out yet.

Coleman and Potoski developed their plan to open Slackers when, as Potoski put it, “We were sick of grossly overpaying for top-of-the-line equipment”

She estimates the same trucks (skateboard axles) and wheels that would cost $150 in another store sell for $110 at Slackers.

“We plan on getting into clothing as well. Stores try to sell hooded sweatshirts for 50 bucks that shouldn’t be over $30,” Potoski said.

Almost as a backlash to the over-commercialized, “trendy” stores that can be found in area malls, Slackers is a laid back place where kids can hang out.

There is an electric dartboard and a video game.

“The kids will bring in skaters videos and pull up chairs to watch them. They get really into it. They know a lot more about some stuff than me. I just show them how to put a board together,” Potoski said.

One of the biggest attractions is the wall of broken boards.

“The regulars bring in their broken skateboards and they get real excited about having their picture taken with it. They’re very supportive of us,” Potoski said of the regulars they know by name.

“They seem to spend all of their allowance and food money here, hanging out buying chips and sodas. A couple of kids bring their homework to do after school. Some even stay from open ‘til close,” she added.

They chose the name Slackers because they purposefully made the store’s hours lax. It’s open from 1 p.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday through Monday.

This schedule affords them luxuries like sleeping in, Coleman’s band practice and, of course, time to skate.

But if they think they’re slackers, they are being too hard on themselves. How many 18 and 19-year-olds have the gumption to start their own business?

When asked if it was difficult to open Slackers, Potoski replied it was, “Surprisingly easy. I didn’t think that we could get the store open ‘till this summer, but it took less than a month. I went to City Hall and asked about a permit. From there, I just asked a lot of questions to everyone I talked to, and they were all very helpful.”

But some of the distributors were rude.

“It’s amazing that you’d have to twist someone’s arm to spend a couple thousand of dollars with them,” Potoski said.

The K.B.S. skate park in Port Orchard has started referring customers to Slackers because of their cheaper prices, Coleman said.

Skateboarders don’t always get the friendliest reception in Bremerton, but when the topic of the no skateboarding in downtown ordinance was broached, Potoski was polite.

“I guess that skateboarders could slow up traffic, or bother pedestrians, but it’s not right. Skaters aren’t just supposed to imitate Tony Hawk, and pull tricks on a ramp. Skateboards are useful. If I have the car and he needs to get somewhere, he takes his board,” Potoski said.

Potoski and Coleman are both anti-drug, as are many skaters. This flies in the face of the popular stereotype about skateboarders.

Skateboarding becomes a bind of friendship and a fun activity.

But in this age of expanding waistlines of the youth and addiction to television and Playstation, if skateboards can get kids outside getting exercising, they’re on the right track, many health professionals opine.

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