Autumn arrived early in New York 

Autumn arrived early in New York -- at least it did on East 2nd Street between avenues A and B.

Since the Autumn Skateboard Shop opened its doors five months ago it has enjoyed resounding success in the heart of New York's alternative culture, the East Village.

"This is an idea that we've had for quite a while," says 25-year-old Kristen Yaccarino, who opened Autumn last April with her husband, David Mims, 24. "We wanted to do a shop together, and there had been a lack of good skate stores in the city."


Yaccarino and Mims attribute their success to a thorough knowledge of the industry and their customer. Mims, a former decorative painter, has been a passionate skateboarder for the last 12 years. And so, he was familiar with the brands most popular with the skate set, like New York-based Rookie, 5 Boro and November, as well as traditional California brands like 1984 and Real. The store also operates under unconventional hours: Wednesday through Sunday from 1 p.m.-9:30 p.m. and Tuesdays, 5 p.m.-9:30 p.m., because skaters, as a rule, aren't early risers.

In addition to boards, Autumn offers soft goods, making this 350-square-foot skate shop attractive to non-skate consumers in the neighborhood, as well as to skate enthusiasts. And though apparel now occupies less than 20 percent of Autumn, Yaccarino sees this section expanding in the next few months.

Because many skateboard companies only sell to skateboard shops, Mims feels that he and his wife are helping to "keep the business alive"; that is, providing a retail outlet where smaller and underground skate brands can prosper in an authentic skate environment. At the same time, specialty stores are able to compete against larger skate chains and are able to carry unique items that customers will likely not find elsewhere. "People need shops owned by people and not money," he says.

The couple makes sure to keep their store "strictly 100 percent skateboard." And so, sticking to core brands is essential when buying.

"We choose our brands by looking through skateboard publications," says Yaccarino, a former television production coordinator. "We find out who owns the brands and who their riders are. It's about knowing your customer and asking yourself, for example, do these guys like shorts or do they hate shorts."

Autumn has even been responsible for converting a group of their neighbors from regular New Yorkers into ardent skateboarders. Says Yaccarino, "Since we opened, a group of guys down the block are into skateboarding all of a sudden." Now, that's expanding your customer base.