Triumph in San Rafael

Cool looks for skateboarders and everybody else.

When longtime surfer Harley Pearlman was a kid, he shopped at Marin Skate Sports in San Rafael, now the location of his own store, Triumph.

The store sells skateboarding clothing and accessories as well as a variety of "cool looking" items for guys and gals.

Pearlman, 31, said that the surfing and skateboarding communities are closely tied.

"We would skate when the surf was flat." Harley said.  

Skateboarding clothes are more about style than function. There are no particular rules about which clothing item works better for the sport. Triumph has some of the lesser known brands like The Hundreds, Manik, Huf, and 10 Deep.  These brands can be found worldwide but Triumph is probably the only store in Marin that carries them.   

In addition, Triumph has its own line of clothing inspired by the things its owner and manager see around town.

"About 80 percent of the merchandise is just cool clothes for school or to wear on the street," Pearlman said. "Triumph appeals to a broad range of people from their teens to mid-30s."

Triumph store manager and San Rafael resident Evan Johnson started skateboarding when he was 10 years old. He's just back from New York where he skated all over Manhattan. He took his skateboard into many restaurants, stowing it under the table for safe keeping.

 Johnson can answer any question about skateboarding, said Pearlman.

The most important thing for skateboarding is the shoe.  Unlike regular athletic shoes, which have a thick sole for cushioning against hard pavement,  the sole for a skateboarding shoe is thinner, so the skateboarder can feel what is underneath his or her feet and so that the skateboarder can move his or her ankle to direct the board. Even with the high-top limited edition Nike SBs ($70 to $100), Pearlman said, you are able to move your ankle. Huf makes low-cut, mid- and high cut-shoes ($70 to $85), which come in great colors.  

The store also stocks backpacks, sunglasses, denims, T-shirts, caps, and, of course skateboards, which run from $50 for the deck to $120 for a complete board, including wheels, trucks and bearings.  Some of the board brands are Manik, Girl Chocolate, Real, Anti Hero, Krooked Habitat, Alien Workshop and Ender, which is owned by Shane Reuter, a San Rafael skateboarder.

Triumph also sells its own brand of skateboard.

The store sponsors a skateboarding team and the members have been close for years. They throw events to give back to the community, giving kids in the area something to look forward to. Some Triumph recent events have been release parties and skate jams. Sign up on their Web site to read skateboarding blogs and  find out about upcoming events and store news.    

Some skateboarders start as early as age five, but by about 30, Pearlman said, "you are busier and you sort of get over it."

For him, surfing was his primary thing, so he says he's more of a surfer these days than a skateboarder.

Most skateboarders on the street travel light, with just their clothes and a backpack, especially if they are school age. In the skateboarding parks, a helmet is required.

In San Rafael, skateboarding is not allowed on Fourth Street, but it is fine on Third Street, and there is a big park in Novato where many Triumph customers can be seen practicing their tricks.

Pearlman said a longer board with bigger wheels is best for transportation while a shorter board, called a regular board, is best for tricks.  Like most sports, the ability to perform tricks depends entirely on the skill and tenacity of the athlete.

"Skateboarding is a lifestyle.  It's always different. There is no routine," Johnson said. "You can really express your individuality through skateboarding."


907 Fourth St.

San Rafael, CA



Dan Ross September 01, 2010 at 12:00 AM
My 17-year-old read this and told me we need to go there right away
Nancy Isles Nation September 01, 2010 at 05:59 PM
They have really good stuff at good prices. I can buy clothes for my teenage nieces and nephews there and they actually wear them.
Tony Perez December 01, 2010 at 08:00 PM
Not sure if the skateboard park you are referring to in Novato is the one close to McInnis Golf Course at the end of Smith Ranch Road ... which is technically in San Rafael. Check it out at http://skateboardpark.com/skateboardpark/viewpark.asp?ID=1568. If it's not the same one, the address for the one in Novato would be helpful.
Robin Collins December 01, 2010 at 09:36 PM
Dear Tony, The park you mention is McInnis Skate Park in San Rafael. There is another in Novato which many of the Triumph customers like. It is my understanding that the skaters differentiate between the two locations by referring to them as "San Rafael" and "Novato." Read about Novato Skate Park here: www.caliskatz.com Address is: 1200 Hamilton Parkway, Novato. Directions on their site. Thanks for reading Patch and for commenting on my article. Robin
Jane Austen March 04, 2011 at 07:28 PM
I've heard the same thing about surfers and skateboarders. They are the perfect complement when you aren't able to do one or the other. I don't do either, but I have a lot of respect for those that have the stamina to skateboard or surf. http://xfactorextreme.com


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