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Cruz Skate Shop

For Derby Girls, and More

It might have “Skate Shop” in its name, but don’t write Cruz Skate Shop off as just another skateboard shop. Cruz Skate Shop is a one-of-a-kind joint catering to roller derby girls, roller skaters and skateboarders.

Whether you haven’t done anything involving wheels since childhood or a roller-derby pro, this is the perfect place to get geared up — all the goods and no holier-than-thou attitude.

Cruz Skate Shop was dreamt out of necessity. “Derby has grown exponentially in the last eight years and there are hardly any brick-and-mortar shops to go get anything related to derby or even roller skating,” says shop owner Sandy “Motley” Cruz. “I created the store out of necessity for me and my fellow skaters who didn’t have anywhere to go.”

It was hard to come by necessary supplies like the extra-long laces needed for skates, replacement parts and protective gear. Sandy found a way. After setting up her first account with a small distributor in Menlo Park, she placed her first order: a box with a few sets of wheels, some laces, toe stops, just “things you need for roller skates that you couldn’t find anywhere.”

“I was having Tupper-skate parties,” says Sandy, also a longtime bartender at Thee Parkside. “I dropped all my product from my garage into totes and sold it out of the bar. It was one place girls could come to try on helmets and see how they fit, try on pads, and buy them right then and there instead of going online.”

This led to an online roller derby/roller skate store in 2007 and eventually a lease-signing for a space on a sunny block in the outer Mission that formerly housed a wedding photography studio. When Sandy and her boyfriend Gordon Eckler opened shop in March of 2008, “it began with a heavy focus on rollerskating, and in particular, roller derby goods,” Sandy says. On opening day there were a handful of skateboards by small skater-run companies and limited-edition decks and cruisers.

Fast-forward to today: “Our shop is a hybrid concept,” explains Sandy, “part roller skating and part skateboarding, but all about skating. Each person who works in or for the shop skates and we try to only sell brands and products we would skate ourselves. In short, no junk we’re trying to pass off to unsuspecting moms and dads.” Important, considering the loyal local following Cruz has amassed, including no small number of families.

“The original plan was to keep it really focused on roller skates and really niche on the skateboards,” Sandy says. “We we’re not here to take anyone else’s business, just to fulfill a need for roller skates and protective gear that roller skaters couldn’t find.” Due to local demand and constant requests, Sandy and Gordon have substantially expanded their board and skateboard supply offering but always with an emphasis on supporting skater-run companies and brands that aren’t easily available at other shops in San Francisco.

Sandy’s tenure as a loyal and influential member of the B.ay A.rea D.erby Girls for the last five years and Gordon’s history of skateboarding for over 20 years (not to mention riding for Creature, Ace Trucks and Iron Horse) grant Cruz an inimitable authentic and passionate vibe.

While you might expect them to be stuck up or intimidating, it’s in fact just the opposite. “Being a girl going into a skate shop was always pretty intimidating; it was always like, ‘What is this chick doing in here? What do you think she’s going to buy? What dumb question do you think she’s going to ask us?’,” Sandy says.

“I really try to emphasize no attitude. I try to make this place feel really welcoming right when you come in,” she continues. “We really try to cater to everyone whether they’re a novice or a first time skateboarder or roller skater, or sponsored.”

The shop feels comfortable and inviting; the right wall houses soft goods — clothing for the boys and girls, plus some select baby clothing.

For roller derby there are referee striped tanks, tees and dresses, Sourpuss knee socks and legwarmers in crazy color combos and stripes, animal prints, cleavers and more. Retro-style derby shorts feature lipstick kiss marks, brass knuckles and slogans like “Live Fast Die Pretty”, “Bitches Get Stitches”, and “Derby Dolls” in the New York Dolls style.

Skates and protective gear are at the back of the shop. Don’t know a thing about roller skates? No problem; Sandy is more than happy to explain everything like what the difference is between aluminum and nylon plates, and indoor versus outdoor wheels.

Many Cruz customers are just getting into roller derby or recreational roller-skating. From entry level to top-of-the-line, Cruz carries a selection for skaters of all levels. Custom setups, skate repairs and shoe setups (turn a pair of high top Vans or vintage sneakers into skates!) are all done here.

In San Francisco we have skateboard shops, skateboard/fixie shops, and a very unique, accessible skateboard/roller derby/roller skate shop that’s not about upselling overpriced trendy gear. Whether you’re just starting out, want to find out how to get into roller derby or need a place for hardware while on a skate mission, make sure to check out Cruz — you won’t be sorry.