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An era gone by in Newhall

Store for surfers and skateboarders closing its doors

Posted: July 31, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 31, 2013 2:00 a.m.

After 34 years, Billy's Boardshop on Lyons Avenue is closing its doors. The recreational retailer is holding a store closing sale offering 50 percent off all merchandise.

Billy’s Boardshop, a staple of Newhall since 1979, announced it is closing.

Two months ago owner Bill Boden privately told The Signal the Santa Clarita shop most likely would close as it had not been doing well financially — but he was still hoping to turn things around.

The retailer specializes in carrying major brand boards for surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, as well as apparel and accessories.

A number of factors accounted for the shop’s gradual demise — all of which occurred during the Great Recession, he said.

But, bottom line, the industry itself changed the most, the owner said.

“The economics of the area have definitely changed,” Boden said.

First, having the streets re-routed around the downtown Newhall district, and Main Street reduced to two lanes of traffic, also interrupted business. And with the construction of the two-story Newhall Library, his business was no longer visible to drivers traversing Railroad Avenue — formerly San Fernando Road, he said.

And then there were the businesses that moved out of the immediate area that had been a complement to Billy’s Boardshop — Val Surf and Pit Pro, he said.

Boden also said that the city-coordinated monthly “Senses” events, with bands and food trucks, were great, driving visitors — and potential new customers — to the area. But, the events were held at the opposite end of Main Street — away from Billy’s Boardshop on Lyons Avenue at Main Street.

“I don’t feel any support on our end (of the street),” he said at the time.

As business declined over the past three years, Boden sold his Stevenson Ranch house more than a year ago because he couldn’t afford it any more, he said.

Although the retailer had loyal customers, Boden reported that the total number of customers had dwindled. That created a cash-flow problem for the store, which made it difficult to keep merchandise flowing into the store — then creating a Catch-22 in which it could no longer pay its rent, Boden said.

“We’ve never been able to bounce back.”

Billy’s Boardshop was first launched in Montrose in 1965.

The Newhall store opened in 1979. Boden said he began working at the father-son run business in 1986, but that the stores separated financially when the original owner died in 1992.

Boden bought the Newhall store “about 10 years ago,” he said.

But, in the end, the industry has changed rapidly in the past decade or so. Specialty stores aren’t as exclusive as they once were, with the merchandise manufacturers selling to multiple stores now.

“It used to be cool to go down and buy skateboards and snow boards,” Boden said.

“Now there’s no need for specialty brick and mortar stores,” he said. “People can go online and buy. Everyone is shopping on the Internet.”




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