SS20 - THE BIRTH OF THE BRAND
Founded in 1988, SS20 was a true pioneering skate shop which in time grew to cult status. It followed in the footsteps of other pioneering shops such as Alpine Action, M-Zone, Faze 7, Surrey Skateboards and Slam City Skates. Originally set up by Dave Furneau and Mon Barbour as an “action sports” shop. We employed Sean Goff, who was a skater already basking in the spotlight of skateboardings resurgence. He subsequently bought into the company 10 months later and SS20 became a limited company. At the time Sean was British Skateboard Champion, while Dave was the first British Freestyle Snowboard Champion. With this combination, SS20 had a solid head start into the emerging skate and snowboard industry.
Before SS20, Mon had enjoyed early success with one of the most famous vert ramps (inspired by Joe Lopez’s backyard setup in the States) on his parents’ farm. He held annual skate and BMX jams which became legendary in time. He’d also built the first portable half pipe when he was 17 and toured it around the country. By 1991 the two ramps had been combined to create the first and probably only spine vert ramp set-up in the UK.
ACHIEVEMENTS AND THE BUILDING OF AN INSTITUTION:
In the early days, SS20 boasted one of the strongest skate teams in the UK. Riders included Tom Penny, Alex Moul and Danny Wainwright, who all went on to gain massive success in their own right. In later years there were other notable team riders including Tom Watts, Tom Knox and Jason Cloete. SS20 continued sponsoring up and coming talent until the shop finally closed its doors. There were also a large number sponsored snowboard team riders over years including Jake Binne and Sparrow Knox.
Not only did we sponsor riders but we also sponsored pretty much any skate and snowboard event they had a request from. Their aim was to always support and nurture the scene that they were so passionate about. The Independent newspaper once described SS20 as the social services of skateboarding.
SS20 were approached in the mid nineties by the main skateboard distributors at the time to organise the first British Skateboard Championships that decade at Radlands skatepark in Northampton. We had already been supporting Radlands by providing surplus skate products on a sale or return basis for a period to help them keep the park going. The Championships held in 1995 were heralded as a major success with a large contingent of American and other international skate stars attending. The event helped cement Radlands as one of the biggest influences on the UK skate scene – whilst thrusting Tom Penny even further into the global skateboard limelight.
Distributors constantly held SS20 in high regard and we’d been seen as the main shop to launch new products and lines. This was a constant throughout the noughties and resulted in collaborations with DVDs and with several brands including Carhartt, Picture Wheels and Cliche. The launch of Nike Snowboard Boots was exclusively done through SS20 in its first year, a sign of how prestigious working with SS20 had become. Within the snowboard scene also SS20 supported and sponsored numerous instructors, seasonaires and competitors, many of whom have continued to be part of the UK snowboard scene to this day. Including Ian Sansom, editor of The Reason Snowboard magazine, and previously editor of Snowboard UK.
From day one SS20 was trying to help provide facilities and advised on many skate projects before there were specialist companies constructing skateparks and ramps. This included serval facilities including the now defunct Botley bowl in west Oxford. A second branch of SS20 also sprang up in the early nineties in Leamington Spa. Here they helped construct and run the legendary Boys’ Club ramp complex where demos from skate legends, including Chris Miller and Buster Halterman were held. They also had a Bones tour demo there that included Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero and Lance Mountain.
The launch of Sidewalk Surfer and White Lines magazines was a seminal moment in the continued rise in the popularity of the shop. The magazines were based in Oxfordshire and all the main staff of Sidewalk lived opposite the shop. This led to countless visiting skaters from all over the country and abroad. Adverts were created with the designer of the magazine and a deep and close relationship ensued. We helped grease the monkeys and supply various refreshments in exchange for new and creative adverts. To start with, fairly stupid and funny adverts were designed that consistently caused a buzz in the industry.
SS20 was also instrumental in helping with the legendary Cowley Road Carnival that takes place annually. Each year they had a ramshackle street set-up or graffiti walls for local artists. The final year for SS20 at the event was 2015 where they created “Cowleyfornia”, which was a purpose-built beach in the back of the local Tesco car park. This was comprised of five tonnes of sand, a mini ramp and graffiti boards, together with sun bleachers to set the scene. It should have been a major success. However, the Globe team organised a demo on the same day. This totally eclipsed the skating at the carnival because every skater from miles around descended on the OWP Skatepark to meet Rodney Mullen, Chris Haslam, David Gonzalez and Mark Appleyard and check out the rest of the Globe team skate.
In 2015, SS20 was shortlisted by an all part parliamentary committee into the top-10 best small shops in the UK, which was no mean feat for a skate shop. As a consequence, Dave Furneau and Mon had a great day at the Houses of Parliament drinking taxpayers booze.
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