See all those blades? That’s the Zumiez store front at 840 Broadway in Manhattan. And yes, that’s a HUF skateboard apparel display.
Wait — why is HUF showcasing blades?
Think for a second.
Did you remember this?
Or maybe this?
Well Rollerblade™ does, and if the parts of the letter shown in the display that we can read AND the sales folks we spoke with at Zumiez are accurate, then it seems like RB didn’t like HUF using their logo on a shirt that made fun of rollerblading, so they sent them a letter. My guess is that letter was less of the chain-mail or Happy Birthday variety and more likely a Cease & Desist.
And now that letter is proudly displayed for all to see.
When I called the Zumiez store I spoke with Brittany or Courtney or something like that and she was very nice. She said that HUF directs the window displays and that they sometimes last anywhere from one to four months. But she was mistaken about the context. She thought the letter posted was from HUF to Rollerblade “telling them to chill out,” but that’s exactly backwards. The letter is actually from RB or their lawyers to HUF, asking them to pull the shirts and make ’em go away. Or, you know, there’s gonna be larger legal bills, etc.
As I pressed Courtney/Brittany(?) for more info she got suspicious. “Are you calling from the company?” she asked.
“No, no,” I assured her — “I just walked by earlier and thought the display was cool.”
“Oh good, I didn’t — we don’t sell skates here if that’s what you mean.”
“Ah, I know — that’s why I was so surprised! Hadn’t seen any rollerblades in a minute.”
Now’s where things got weird:
“Actually we see a lot more of them around the city now. People like it again, I guess.”
“Has anyone else asked about the display?”
“A couple people — I think they thought it was funny.”
“I bet those old blades makes your store smell like feet… well, more than it already does.”
“I hope not! It’s crazy enough in here already.”
“Ha! Hey, one last question — have you ever tried rollerblading?”
“Just once, years ago in the park.”
“Well thanks for your time and the info, I’ll try to stop in to look at the display more closely.”
“You should come back by and read the whole letter. It’s hilarious.”
With that we said our goodbyes and she got back to work… or whatever it is people do all day at Zumiez.
Then I shot off an email to our friends at Rolleblade USA to see if they knew about it, but we haven’t heard back yet. We’ll keep you posted when we can.
I guess what I learned (again) from this whole experience is that action sports lifestyle brands really can’t get enough of yucking it up about blading. What a tired and lame joke!
But the other side of that is that they’re so concerned with taking the piss out of us that… you can’t help but realize they are protecting their turf. And you only worry about protecting your turf when you sense a threat. So string that logic together and you can see that companies like HUF, as unbelievable as it may seem, look at rollerblading as a threat.
As far as Tuesdays go, we’ll call that a win. After all, HUF put blading on Broadway in NYC. Thanks, Keith!
Zumiez storefront photo by Anthony Chen and borrowed from Thuro Skateshop.