Rip City Skates began life on April 1, 1978, selling skateboards to kids who were lured to the Santa Monica shop by the seven or eight pinball machines founder Jim McDowell brought in. He shared the profits — quarters were divvied up on a regular basis — with what he described as an Italian guy who drove one of those Lincoln Continentals with suicide doors. Of course, the business, run by McDowell and partner Bill Poncher, became one of the world's preeminent skateboarding storefronts. But before that they also sold tennis-shoe roller skates endorsed by one O.J. Simpson, McDowell says. And one day in the early 1980s, a guy named Shawn Stüssy walked in with a pile of clothing for sale, inaugurating Rip City's voyage into beach-lifestyle wear, which also included the early sale of Jimmy'z pioneering Velco-fly shorts. Today, you can find all the contemporary skate brands your heart desires — made-in-America setups start at about $100 — but the shop's pièce de résistance is probably its vintage decks, which include boards from Dogtown, Santa Monica Airlines, Powell-Peralta, Gordon & Smith and more. Prices start at several hundred dollars and reach into the thousands. But McDowell and Poncher don't mind if you stop by to just breathe in the Dogtown & Z-Boys history. Kids still come in just to chill before a sesh at the Cove Skatepark nearby. The pinball machines are gone. But the skate shop still rips. In 2018, it will celebrate 40 years of laid-back retail.
Credit: Danny Liao