In the late 50s and early 60s, surf culture was exploding all along the West Coast. Standing up on a board and then riding it down the face of a wave became a new way of life for many people who were eager to experience the outdoors in a whole new setting. Inevitably, this newly born “board-sport” culture spread to the inland, ocean-less areas of the country. Without natural waves, people shaped and adapted this culture into many of the modern board sports we enjoy today like skateboarding, snowboarding and wakeboarding.
For Spokane’s Paul Jones, riding a board, whether on snow, water or land, became an addiction at a very early age and ultimately developed into his current vocation. With 25 years of snowboarding and skateboarding experience, Jones has taken his addiction to the next level and is now producing his own boards, sold exclusively at his north Spokane retail store, Let It Ride Board Shop.
“I create stuff that I like, and my hope is that others will like it too,” says Jones. “I started by making skateboard decks and wheels and from there progressed to longboards and finally to snowboards, all while screen printing my own apparel and designing my own exclusive line of snowboard goggles,” he explains. By cutting out the middle man, Jones has been able to offer uniquely designed, made-in-the-U.S.A. products that rival big brand board companies at a price that’s very competitive.
“I spent several years in Sacramento managing snowboard shops and even working for Switch snowboard bindings before they were bought out by Vans,” says Jones. “I needed a better job to support my growing family, so I began working for a company that had developed a point-of-sale system for retail stores,” he says. Keeping his dreams of sole proprietorship in view, Jones set his sights on a new path. “I knew that if I learned this POS system inside and out, I could someday use it in my own retail board shop.”
Looking for a better quality of life, Jones and his family relocated to the Spokane area where he soon began implementing his dream of owning a shop. “We wanted a safe place to raise our family, we had family here, but most importantly I was super intrigued by all the snowboarding, motocross, and water sports opportunities that Spokane had,” he says.
Of all of Jones’ board creations, perhaps he is most proud of his latest line of Let It Ride Snowboards. “We now have an all mountain freestyle board, a park specific board, and even a women’s specific board,” he says. Jones has put a lot of thought and engineering into each board and has thoroughly tested many prototypes. “Our whole line utilizes a high-grade sintered base, balanced rocker and camber, carbon fiber and bamboo construction, and is available in sizes 151-161.”
As much as Jones enjoys the R&D behind his creations, his favorite side of the process is creating the visually stunning graphics that each board displays. “I’m super stoked about the graphics for our current snowboard line. My manufacturer really stepped up their game, and the graphics are more refined and beautiful than ever. I’m a huge sci-fi guy, and I think our graphics really represent that,” he says.
As a board sport fanatic, Jones has no plans to change directions or grow his shop to include the ski side of things. “I’m not a skier and I don’t pretend to be. I’m a board guy, and I want to sell people stuff that I am intimately familiar with and passionate about. When I first got into snowboarding, I went to a big box store and was sold a board that was completely wrong for me from someone who knew nothing about the sport,” he explains. A business model that pushes numbers over expertise is not what Jones is interested in. “I’m always going to sell you a board based on your weight, foot size and riding style. You can be assured that it’s my goal to sell you the perfect board, the first time you come through the doors.”
Let It Ride Board Shop is located at 426 E Hastings Rd in the Wandermere shopping district of North Spokane (open Monday-Saturday from 10-7 and Sundays from 12-4). In addition to his own boards, Paul also carries Ride and Rome snowboards. Letitrideshop.com. //