Best Skate Shop - 2009
S.O.K.A. Skate & Snow
Modern skateboarding is in its forties now, and like lots of middle-agers, it's now firmly based in the suburbs. That's where all the best skateparks are and most of the shops (and if you're a retailer, most of the customers). That's why in 2005, S.O.K.A. Skate & Snow opened its second location at the end of a strip mall near County Road K on Mexico Road, just a few miles from the St. Charles County Youth Activity Park. The place is smaller than the original store in west county, but it's got the goods: the popular Plan B Skateboards brand, Rob Dyrdek's Rogue Status clothing and an exclusive account with Nike SB. Co-owner Mark Sparacio can be found behind the counter on weekends, giving tips to tweens while Grandma stands a few feet behind. "Those bearings are too fast — you can't land tricks as easily with those," Sparacio'll impart, eschewing the easy upsell in favor of an honest appraisal. Sparacio (who owns S.O.K.A. along with Frank Hunleth) stresses the community aspect of the O'Fallon location; he even gives gift certificates to skatepark employees to randomly hand out to skaters for good behavior.