my mom and I are at a random mall in the middle of nowhere an hour outside Chicago.
I see a Thrasher tshirt in the window of a skate shop with a demonic goat 666 image on a satanic star.
So naturally I go in because how is this seriously in this suburban Illinois mall?
We start talking to the guy working at the shop.
Curious if there’s any Todd Francis skateboards there, I ask if he has any.
Guy says, “Todd Francis? You mean one of the most famous skateboard designers ever?”
Quickly goes to one of the many racks of decks and instantly finds this one pictured and says “this guy is a legend. I have his book. You Know him? Wait till I tell my friends!”
So I show him some pics of Todd in college.
Minds blown. (By the way the price of the board was Not $8.25 – it was actually $52.)
So we talk some more, shake hands, talk about skating in Santa Barbara in the 80s, where I was lucky enough to meet and work with Todd and the dudes are seriously impressed.
Here’s the weird thing about Todd. I was impressed by him the very first time I ever met him, I tell them. He was that good even when he was 19-20 years old.
Just as disgusting, just as interesting, just as dark.
But what is hard to see from his art is how funny he is. Sooooo funny in a dry, bitter, sideways way. OK maybe his art is exactly like that too. I was hungry and needed a Portillos dipped beef.
Weirdly I forget to tell him that we were roommates on Folsom Street in Frisco in 1994 and watched the Bronco Chase together. But maybe that would have been overkill. They got it.
then we see a sports store. Cubs Sox Bulls Bears Hawks.
ive been to this store before and remember the guy behind the counter. I remembered him because I always appreciated his wide selection of Cubs stuff.
I am looking at a playoff tshirt and right away he says 20% off!
i say, hold your horses, why dont you see, i might just buy it at full hit? he’s got a thick accent but i catch about every other word.
we get talking and i look around and I notice that even though the NFL season is only in its 2nd week theres very few Bears crap on his racks. Maybe 2-3 racks thats it. More than half the store is Blackhawks and the rest is Cubs. He tells me the Bears have not been selling for the last 5 years.
Also these facts:
Anthony Rizzo jerseys sell more than Kris Bryant
Blackhawks have been steady sales for the last 5 years, winter, fall, summer, spring. But especially around Christmas.
The last time the Bears were in the Super Bowl everything sold out and even the distributor sold out.
And if the Cubs win the World Series he is certain everything in his store will sell out no matter what it is.
Also these very sad facts:
He works 7 days a week, 10 hours a day
No one else works with him.
He has a nephew who works for him 2 weeks a year for his vacation.
If he doesn’t open his store on time he gets fined by the mall.
No way can he close his store for a day because he would get a bigger fine.
Sales at the store over the last 5 years have sunk year after year.
His only saving grace would be the Cubs winning the World Series, and yet he wears a Sox jacket because he thinks he looks better in black than in “purple” (which I assume he meant blue).
Even though the Bulls have signed hometown boy Dwayne Wade, the NBA won’t release anything official until right before the season starts. So no one is really buying any Bulls stuff right now because everyone is preoccupied with the Cubs.
I begged him to hire my mom to work for him two days a week but they both refused to take me seriously.