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When Mark Richards and his family first opened the doors of Val Surf in North Hollywood, California on October 6, 1962, it was the very first skateboard shop in the world. (Yes, in addition to surfboards, they’ve carried skateboards since the beginning!) Open continuously since then, Val Surf is also the longest-running skateboard-related business. Those two facts alone command some serious respect. Val Surf has always been there, supporting skateboarders through the sport’s many peaks and valleys via their four physical stores and their online mail order business, which extends their reach anywhere in the world. Before the web, everyone who skated back in the ’70s fondly remembers admiring the grid of small photos of the latest skateboards in Val Surf’s mail order ads in Skateboarder magazine. For all of these reasons and many more, Val Surf truly is The Skateboard Capitol.
Today, Richards’ sons Brandon and Blake, along with his brother Kurt and his niece Denise Richards Millis, have taken over daily operations. Val Surf employs around 55 people in its Valley Village, Woodland Hills, Valencia and Thousand Oaks locations. Over the decades, Val Surf has sponsored many riders, including Deano Mueller, Brad Bowman, Jerry Valdez, Kent Senatore, Marc Smith, David Ferry, Guy Mariano, Justin Eldridge, Mikey Taylor, Jeron Wilson, Tristan Funkhouser, Stevie Perez, Alex Midler, Joey Brezinski, Shiloh Greathouse, Kader Sylla, Chris Roberts, Daniel Castillo, Torey Pudwill, Kevin Terpening, and Cyril Jackson.
Born in Los Angeles, California on July 12, 1947, Mark Richards started out skating in the mid-1950s on a 4” x 15” plank with steel wheels. As subsequent decades unfolded, Mark enjoyed it all: banks, street, slalom, high jump, spins, and later, pools and skateparks. He even made an appearance on Art Linkletter’s TV show. Today, Mark enjoys snowboarding and surfing, plus spending time with his family, kids and grandkids. “It’s rewarding to see the devotion given to Val Surf over the years by so many in the skateboarding community, including, of course, the skaters, industry and vendors who support this great sport.”—Mark Richards