How do I properly introduce SORD to everyone without sounding like I’m in my 40’s? My teenager would say they are “Glo’d Up” (don’t look it up)…in essence it means they’ve grown up into something incredible. It’s true. Co-Owner Ryan Smith has been in the business with his family since he was 15 years old. Their long term business plan of turning SORD into a global brand is always in the forefront of their minds, but they’ve intelligently expanded their services to include silk screening, embroidery, printing, and other products that help to make SORD more than relevant in Woodland. In August of 2016, they moved into a larger space at 607 Main Street which shows they are willing to take the risks necessary to grow. I missed the boat on watching SORD grow over the last nine years, so it’s rad to know them and to watch what their future holds.
What is your name and your business name?
Ryan Smith and I co-own SORD Boardshop in Downtown Woodland, California.
What is SORD?
It’s an abbreviation of Skate OR Die; we sell skateboards, glasses, clothing, hats, shoes and also we do silkscreen, embroidering, and stickers. We do graphic design and pretty much anything you can think of, we can make happen.
How did you come up with the name and logo?
We were making a video for my brother and we really wanted to have Skate OR Die in the video. The term skate or die has been around for as long as skateboarding has and it’s really hardcore. When we put it in the video it just clicked for us, SORD just worked. We also love skeletons and bones, so we rough sketched it and hired a graphic designer to bring it to life. At the time I was 13 and my brother was 15 so, we weren’t into computers or knew much about them!
Wait, how long have you been in business?
December 1st was nine years. We first started with a spot on East Gum Ave in a 450 square foot, 7-foot ceiling space!
Let’s back up, how did this all start?
In 2004, our family was really into skating. My brother, who is so much better than me at skateboarding, was competing and winning. But he would always break his skateboards. My dad was always buying new decks at $50 each. Sometimes it would be more than once a week. My dad went online, found a wholesaler and purchased 10 blank decks at a time. At that time we lived right next to the skate park, so when someone would break their board they would buy one off my dad. It happened enough that we decided to open a skateboard shop to sell our own boards with our logo and design. We were selling our own decks, wheels, grip tape, and bearings out of our garage for about a year and a half.
During that time my brother was saving his money from a job he had, and along with my parent’s help, we opened the shop on East Gum Ave on December 1, 2007. I was 15 and my brother was 17. There is no way we could have done any of this without our parents!
When did you move to Main Street?
On Jan 30, 2010 we moved to 526 Main Street. It was an awesome 2000 square foot location. The plan from the very start was, and still is, to make SORD a product line, a global brand. That is what we are working toward, long term. With that in mind, we decided (because we now had space) to make our own stickers. We purchased our first plotter and then we starting cutting stickers for our teachers, friends, and the next thing we know we’re creating and printing for customers.
My friend Sean, from Dutch Bros, wanted to wrap his van. At the time we were just doing vinyl stickers on his trailer. Doing wraps is a different kind of printer, so we decided to just go for it. That purchase opened our options and customer base. We were able to do so much more; wraps, printed stickers, banners…that was around 2011. Then people were asking if we print shirts! It just didn’t stop, so that was another type of machine (silkscreen machine). Now people are asking for embroidery!
There is a learning curve to all this. How did you become proficient in these new areas?
I knew the program for the plotter, so the new additions weren’t that difficult. I’ve used YouTube as well to learn, but a lot of trial and error.
When did you move to your new location
In May of 2016, during the car show on Main, we were walking up and down the street and my mom saw that this place was open. We thought it would be too big and expensive. But we ended up getting the keys two weeks later. For three months we did renovations and opened August 1st.
What does being in a space this large allow you to do?
Grow. Allows us not to be cramped and to grow on both the skateboard and printing side. We just purchased an automated silkscreen machine which is 15x faster than how we were previously able to make shirts. The expansion space is important so that we can also focus on our own brand. These machines will help us to do that.
What do you want Woodland to know?
I’m hoping they already know because we’ve been open nine years. We are open on Sundays!