This month for WUPP Magazine I did a quick write up on 10K Skate Shop, one of Phnom Penh’s newest little spots to pick up a deck.
While there wasn’t enough space for the whole article in the actual print copy of the magazine, I’ve posted the full article here.
10K: Kickflipping into New Territory
I worked for a skate and lifestyle shop, Bleach, as they opened from the ground up, finishing as Manager and Buyer when I lived in the United States, so it was particularly fun to walk into 10K skate shop and enter a world I once knew.
As I entered the white washed shop with exposed brick and racks of decks, there was no denying it catered to a skate audience. While there were definite girly touches- a tray of spiked jewelry, cheeky tees, studded denim shorts, and candy colored baseball caps-the majority of 10K focuses on men’s fashion and the sport of skate with brands like Obey, Cheap Monday, MOB Grip, HUF, Vans, Volcom, DC, and Lakai peppering the space. 10K, a name fused together from his own given name “Dysamil”, roughly translating to ten thousand in French and the ‘K’ having a double meaning, both ‘K’ for Khmer and a thousand in English.
The owner, also known as Steve, previously started selling in his brother’s shop, Mario’s, in BKK1 to test the product and see how customers received skateboards and skate product in Cambodia. Soon, he found the demand to be high and decided to relocate to his own site.
As one of the first skateboard shops in Phnom Penh, I was especially curious as to see what prompted Steve to open 10K in a market just beginning to burgeon. He began skating in New Zealand around the age of ten. Since he didn’t know any English, he knew it would be difficult to make friends and find his place-he said skateboarding served as an opportunity for him to enter into friendships with the people around him and helped bring him into their community while teaching him the sport. While he was in the midst of learning English, he said it wasn’t entirely necessary and that skating “is like music, you don’t need to speak the language-you just feel it”. When he returned to Cambodia, he missed skating and thought “why can’t my country have the same sport?”
He began 10K in hopes of having the ability to share his abilities, resources, and the art of skating to his peers in Cambodia. Within 10K, he has the ability to not only provide the goods it takes to learn to skate, but is willing-any time-to step out (his wife watches over the shop along with him) and show someone a few tricks or how to get started. When buying a skateboard fully kitted (deck, wheels, bearings, trucks, etc) at 10K, he’s happy to build and assemble the board for his customer within 15 minutes (after two years, I could only do it half-well within 30 minutes). When asked about opening more locations, he answered “I really want to be close with my customers. For expanding? Let’s see about that.”
He admits it can be difficult to get quality, authentic products as far as skate goods in Cambodia (Steve’s favorite being GIRL), mainly because of shipping costs. He’s able to work with skate shops in neighboring countries to try and get the best for his customers at the lowest price, his number one piece of advice for beginning skaters is “don’t only focus on the brand”, he knows a lot of newcomers to the skate world think that having the best brand of board and highest quality trucks will make them better-but he advises that they stick with cheaper options as they begin so that when their first board smashes, as it surely will, they can continue on learning without completely emptying their pockets. After all, it’s about the sport-not the brand. “It all starts with a base model and the brand sticker comes later; focus on what you like, learn from it, don’t try and jump all the way to the top”, Steve advises.
As the skate culture grows in Cambodia, Steve gets increasingly hopeful for the skate goods market. 10K is currently partnering with another local brand, RUSKIE, to start offering more lessons and get a skate park adjacent to the store up and running where they can hold contests, events, and sessions. He’s hoping that through an amplified bond of skaters, they’ll be generous with their talents and teach others, that “when they learn new tricks they show each other, they share tips and stuff- I want the culture to keep on improving and that people won’t be selfish, they can learn to share.” Skateistan, a skateboard NGO for youth in Afghanistan and Cambodia, “using skateboarding as a tool for youth empowerment” has been helpful to the skaters in Phnom Penh, providing a place for them to learn and know what it feels to ride in a park. With the roads being less than ideal for skating in Cambodia other than some places on Diamond Island, more skate parks would be extremely helpful to boost the levels of activity. “I really respect what Skateistan is trying to do, we’re trying to work a lot with them” Steve shares, whether through sponsorship or even just presence, 10K hopes to help Skateistan continue to grow in Cambodia.
It can be difficult to skate on the roads of Cambodia, and with Diamond Island being one of the only really accessible places, so there is hope that skate parks continue to open.
While there are many aspects of the business that Steve is proud of and enjoys, his favorite is “seeing the customers I’ve never seen before”. Do him, and yourself, a favor and roll on over to 10K.