Goods & Services

Best Skate Shop 

S.O.K.A.

Two types of people frequent S.O.K.A.: The skater who goes to buy a new Toy Machine deck, some grip tape and a pair of Volcom shorts; and the other, who drives five hours from Chicago to find a pair of sneakers. That's because S.O.K.A. is the only place between Kansas City and Chicago that carries SBs, Nike's ultra-limited line of designer skate shoes. But whereas many places that carry the kicks find sneakerheads camped out in front of their stores the night before a new pair is released, S.O.K.A. manages to keep many of the exclusive shoes in stock, resulting in shoe lovers from across the Midwest taking a road trip to Manchester, MO, in the hope of finding that last pair of gray-on-gray, limited-release Pee-wee Herman-model SBs. "People know you can come out here a few weeks after a shoe drops and still be able to get 'em," says co-owner Frank Hunleth, whose store was awarded an SB contract about a year after Nike introduced the brand. Now, says Hunleth, as one of the product's bigger retailers, S.O.K.A. often features some of the more obscure, hard-to-find pairs. Just how far do people travel to browse S.O.K.A.'s SB collection? Says Hunleth: "There was a guy out here from Seattle the other night who bought a couple of pairs."

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