What happens when an avid veteran windsurfer from Florida moves to Santa Fe, New Mexico? She opens a snowboard shop called Beyond Waves, of course. Tara Krupka opened the store in November of 1993 because she was searching for “that surf shop vibe in New Mexico and no one had it.” So she decided to create it.
Located in downtown Santa Fe, Beyond Waves is in the basement of a brick house owned by actor Gene Hackman’s mother-in-law. The historic building stands out in a town dominated by fashionable adobe structures. An old board painted over with the shop’s name leads people down the concrete stairs to the front door.
The inside of the store is decorated with brightly colored tag art by local artist and rider Mr. Cez, and the shop is packed with boards, boots, bindings, and clothes. A TV hangs from the ceiling in one corner of the room and the videos never stop. Neither does the buzzer on the door¿a steady stream of people enter and exit the shop throughout the day.
When Krupka opened the shop, she had never snowboarded but was determined to learn both boarding and the business. She enlisted local rider Sean Castner to help design the shop and order products.
“I had my first snowboard lesson two weeks after the store opened,” Says Krupka. “I kind of freaked because I really trashed my body on the first day and thought I couldn’t do it again. Then two weeks later, I did, and something clicked. Now I think boarding is the best thing since ice cream.”
Krupka still misses the ocean and windsurfing, but the feeling of fresh powder and the people in the industry have helped her comfortably slide into business. SNOWboarding Business talked to Krupka about the shop, the town, and the kids:
What is the clientele of the shop?We have a small percentage of tourists who come in here, but we really cater to locals¿unlike most Santa Fe businesses. We target locals because my feeling is surf shops are local, so we should stay in that spirit. In terms of age and gender, we get the typical group of teenage guys, but we also get a lot of families. Over Christmas we had a parent come in here and thank us for having everything she needed for her six kids. She said it saved her a lot of time to be able to find everything in one shop. We also get a few middle-aged men in here and we are starting to see women come in.
Do you work on boards?We try to do as much as we can, and what we can’t do, we send down to a repair shop in Albuquerque. We tried to get a grinder in here this year but just couldn’t afford it. Our goal is to get one next year, but at the moment we do basic maintenance, tune-ups, waxing, and keep all of our rentals in good shape.
Tell us about the rental program.Rentals are great for creating a lot of foot traffic. We only rent freeride equipment Avalanche boards with UBC bindings, and Sims boards and bindings with Airwalk boots because that’s what people use in this area. I can count on one hand how many people have come in looking for plates and hard-shell boots, but if people ask for plates, we do our best to find something they can use.
What kind of outerwear and clothing do you sell?Low-end stuff for the kids, and technical for the older kids. Wave Rave, Twist, Bamboo Curtain, and some smaller companies. There’s very little need for Gore-Tex here. Most of the clothes need to keep people warm¿unlike the Northwest or other parts of the country, it’s pretty dry here. We try and use our clothing to bridge the gap between mainstream and ‘core. We carry underground brands like Echo, Conart, Kingpin, and THC.
What are the most popular boards sold in your shop?We sell a lot of Sims boards. The Shannon Dunn Sunflower board was especially popular last season for guys and girls.
What is the boarding like in your area?Santa Fe has dry, high-altitude powder and bright-blue skies. The mountain is only seventeen miles from town, so we are an easy stopover for people on their way up. The mountains in Neww Mexico can give beginners the blues because there is a lot of extreme and backcountry riding, but otherwise it’s great. Most of the boarders freeride because of the snow and terrain.
How has the community accepted the shop?I think parents are grateful that we’re here. Until we opened, there was no place for all the kids who skated and boarded to hang out. I’ve tried to make this shop a place where kids can just come and watch videos, listen to music, hang out. Until last month we had a DJ in here every couple of days spinning tunes, and we hope to start that up again soon. Eventually I hope to take over the whole building, expand the clothing lines, and create a place for kids to sit on pillows and hang out. There really isn’t a scene, for lack of a better word, for kids in Santa Fe.
Do you sponsor any events in the community?Last year we held Snowboard Day ’94 on the local mountain, which was basically just a party. We took DJ Daze, our shop DJ, up to the mountain and had music and a raffle. Our suppliers donated 3,000 dollars worth of gear. The money raised went to New Mexico AIDS services and Center for Contemporary Arts Warehouse, a youth support organization in Santa Fe. The day went well except for complaints from some tourists who were offended by the lyrics in a few of the rap tunes that were played. It was a lot of fun, though. We’d like to have a contest or an exhibition eventually. Right now we are just trying to work out the liability issues with the mountain.
We also try to get involved with the community by letting people know who we are, especially when there is any attempt at suppressing youth activity. Recently I wrote letters to government officials who were threatening to ban skating in an area called the Plaza. We had petitions in the shop and encouraged parents to get involved. And our manager is working with a city government task force on the Youth Mural Program to help create spaces for teenagers to graffiti or tag walls around the city. We advertise in the high school yearbook and paper. We try to do as much as we can to help out teenagers in this area.
What is your long-term vision for the shop?When I first got involved in this, I was uncomfortable¿now I’m a part of the scene. I feel like I can offer advice and look to the future and tell people where the sport is going. You really have to board to know what’s happening, to be a visionary. I think we’ll become more mainstream with time because that’s what’s happening in the market, but we won’t dis the ‘core end of boarding because that’s the roots.