Before Tony Gale set off on this year’s freestyle skate tour, we tried to catch up with him to hear more Offset Skate Supply. Now he is back, and got his feet up, we’d like to share his story:
Hang Ten – Photo: Nathan Hill
When I started doing freestyle in 2001, no one was stocking freestyle product in the UK – it just didn’t exist here. Being a teenage freestyler meant saving money for ages to be able to order a setup via the internet and pay the insane shipping and duty. Considering how many freestylers we have now, and how many people are interested in freestyle, the fact we were in the same situation in 2018 seemed ludicrous. Slalom was also having the same problem. Vert and longboarding were a bit luckier, but there’s still a lot of stuff I see in the States which is really hard to get here. I’m hoping that over the years I can start to change that.
Tony Gale @ Stockholm World Championships 2017 – Photo : Martin Willners
The basic idea is that I want to support the smaller scenes in the UK; longboarding, slalom, freestyle and vert. At the same time, I want to import and curate stuff that I’m stoked on. Quality product. If I don’t believe in it, I won’t sell it.
Tony Gale @ Stockholm World Championships 2017 – Photo : Martin Willners
Offset is my little baby. My pet project. It’s something I’d been talking about doing for years and eventually everything seemed to line up; my previous employer was shutting down the London office and moving back to LA, Moonshine’s previous UK distribution had shut up shop and I’d moved to a place which has a perfect store room. You can’t turn down a situation like that.
I’m based in Tunbridge Wells, and running this out of my house. I’d love to have a shop but margins are so low that I couldn’t afford a “brick and mortar” store right now unless I really compromised on my core concept and started selling the commercial stuff which would be an easy sell – but not necessarily a good product. I don’t want to have to do that.
Eurotrip Sept 2018 : Photos – Jim Goodrich
My eventual goal would be to take this on the road. I have a “pickup from event” option on the checkout; I’d like to have an event calendar on the front page so you could see what I’m attending and I could bring your order along and hand it to you in person, face to face. A few guys have already taken advantage of that to pick up things at freestyle sessions. I think that’s important as online retail is so impersonal. Anything which encourages sessions and actual meet-ups can only be good.
I’ve been riding for Moonshine since they started the freestyle division a few years back. I was the first freestyle rider on there and was given free rein from Adam Nanaa to build a freestyle team and design the decks.
Freestyle Euros – Photos : Oliver Müller
We started with four riders on the freestyle division and two team models. Now we have 12 freestyle riders across the world and five freestyle pro models, all of which offer something unique. That’s on top of the 13 vert riders and ten vert decks, many of which are modern takes on late 80s and early 90s shapes. It just keeps growing.
Offset is Moonshine’s UK and European distributor. We’re intrinsically linked. Adam at Moonshine has been a great help in me getting started over here.
How many skate shops have dedicated sections for freestyle and slalom in 2019? They’re small niches but OffSet are stoked to be able to support them. Check out the range over at offsetskatesupply.co.uk
Currently the range is fairly small. I’m specialising in freestyle to begin with and trying to diversify what I’ve got available there; Offset is the first place since 1990 that sells complete freestyle boards in the U.K. and I’m very proud of that fact.
Elsewhere, I’m stocking a good range of Seismic product, a tightly honed selection of big shaped boards, and just got my first few slalom decks. I’m trying to bring in Trackers so we can offer slalom competes for beginners, too.
Eventually I want to be able to provide a good range of high quality longboard stuff. If there’s anything you want but can’t find in the U.K., let me know. I’m keen to look into what I can bring in that other guys are ignoring.
Honestly? It’s just marketing. That’s all. As a freestyler, I’ve had almost 15 years of cold shoulders from an industry that has no interest in marketing to anything other than rebellious teenage boys. I’ve had people look me in the eyes and say outright “we like you, we like what you do, we love freestyle. But we won’t sponsor you because then street skaters won’t buy our product.” That’s how contrived and controlled this industry is. And the same thing happened when longboarding appeared; why do you think the term “wrongboarding” came about? Why do you think there’s been so much mockery of girls in skating, of casual riders, of cruisers? Anything which challenges the hegemony they created is dangerous.
The problem is that when you market something as tightly as skateboarding has since the late 80s, you create a monoculture. And monocultures are inherently prone to collapse.
Offset is just me, but Denham Hill helps out where he can. The Moonshine team is too vast to really go in depth here, but we cover the bases on both the freestyle and vert teams – old legends rub shoulders with young guns. I found myself in Japan for the world freestyle championships last year riding with a 40-something year old Japanese legend, Japan’s top female freestyle skateboarder, a 50-something Swedish former world champion and a 9 year old sensation (who won the am division). All of them were my teammates. That’s a great thing to be able to say.
In short, it’s skateboarding, on flat ground, with no obstacles or objects. There are a lot of parallels between longboard dancing and shortboard freestyle. Good freestyle is all about flow and linking tricks together, and that’s what separates it from flatland street skating. Roll-trick-roll-trick might meet the basic criteria, but it also misses the point a bit.
We also have a huge diversity in our trick selection. Most guys specialise in a few trick groups (shuvits, kickflips, Ollie tricks, handstands, Caspers, pogos, etc.), but again, good freestyle should take something from multiple groups.
I got into it in 2001 when I saw Dan Gesmer – yes, Seismic’s Dan Gesmer – on a Saturday morning TV show. He was doing 360 spins, nose wheelies, and his signature flatland pumping, and I’d never seen anything like it.
I went outside and tried to replicate what I’d seen and fell on my arse.
Thanks to the early days of the internet, I managed to find the freestyle community – small as it was – and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Well, I say that. I put my board away in 2007 and tried to get a “real job”. Ended up buying a longboard – a G&S pintail, with Holeys and Lush Avalanches – in 2009 and got sucked straight back in. Skateboarding’s got me now. The “real world” just isn’t as fun.
Ultimately, I don’t care what you’re skating, how good you are, or how serious you take it. Everyone should be able to get involved in skateboarding, and that’s what I want to see. What I want to try to facilitate.
On a related note, I’ve been running another website for about a year now – www.freestyletricktips.com – to try to help people get involved with freestyle. If you’re even half way curious about this weird niche of skateboarding, have a look. And again, a lot of it will translate to longboard dancing, so maybe any dancers reading this might be able to pick something up from there.
UK Round Up 2015 – 1st Place
I’d also like to take this opportunity to give a few shout outs to the folks who’ve supported and inspired me for years; Dan Gesmer at Seismic; Blake Harrington and Jimmy’z; Adam Nanaa at Moonshine; Darryl Grogan and Synopsis bearings; Yoyo Schulz, Bob Loftin, Lillis Åkesson, Alex Foster, Byron Lawrence, Shane Rouse, Mac, Denham Hill, Dan Garb, and the rest of the Moonshine team (I love you all, but that’s a lot of names!).
If you find yourself in Tunbridge Wells and want to roll around, give me a shout. I’m always stoked to have a skate.
Tony Gale – No Handed 50-50 – Photo : Tomáš Kulaja
Words : Tony Gale
Images : As credited, otherwise with permission from Tony/Offset