Store Spotlight: Programme Skate & Sound

Programme Skate & Sound in Fullerton, Calif., opened their doors in early 2011, propelled by the collective efforts of pro skater Fabrizio Santos, Death By Stereo and Manic Hispanic vocalist Efrem Schulz, Chris Gronowski, and Kevin Fewell. Programme is your one-stop shop for decks, trucks, wheels, vinyl, shoes, shirts, and live music.

How long have you been in business, and has it always been at the same location?

This year marks our fourth year in business. Efrem Schulz, pro skater Fabrizio Santos, and myself opened [Programme] in spring of 2011, and have always been here in Fullerton on the corner of Chapman and State College.

What was your main goal when opening Programme?

[Laughs] To be able to just keep the doors on. Really just being able to combine some ideas of skateboarding, music, and fashion into something cohesive.

What prompted you to include music in your store?

We all grew up playing in bands and working in the music industry while skating. Plus, have you ever seen a skate video without a soundtrack? We just hope we can cater to the record buyer while opening up a young skater’s eyes to a band or genre he or she was unfamiliar with.

Is there a certain genre you cater to, or are open to all types of music?

Really, we carry what we like, whether it’s 7 Seconds, Gang Starr, Coltrane, Ramones, Lee Perry… We have roots in hardcore, punk, and hip hop, but we love classic jazz, roots country, indie rock, Britpop, etc. It’s all a little different, but fits together well.

When did you start doing in-store performances?

We had pro skater and musician Ray Barbee play here when we first opened, but after him, just a sprinkling of bands here and there. Efrem talked to the guys in Bane about doing a semi-secret show here with Cruel Hand in early 2013. That, of course, was epically awesome. After that, we had Nations Afire and Kepi Ghoulie, but nothing consistent.

After we hosted Soul Search in early 2014, things took off with bands wanting to play in-store and we had a full calendar. Since that point, we’ve had Forced Order, Angel Du$t, Mindset, DJ Rusko, Jason Cruz of Strung Out, and The Casualties—just to name a few—play here.

What kind of response has live music brought to the store?

Nothing but love. We get [California State University, Fullerton] exchange students coming in to witness real, live American music along with the local kids who want to support their friend’s band or get a chance to see a band like The Casualties in a tiny room.

What past shows do you find most memorable?

Rusko, because he wanted to do a set of some stuff he was messing with that he can’t always do at a festival in front of 5,000 people.

Angel Du$t. Completely controlled chaos where everyone had a great and safe time.

Forced Order, because their first show ever was here, then the show where they signed with Revelation [Records] was here. We’ve seen them grow before our eyes, and only get bigger and better.

AFRO. Kid is an unreal MC, and will be melting minds and mics before long. I think he first played here when he was 16. Since then, he got signed by R.A. The Rugged Man and has been on Queen Latifah’s TV show.

Your main focus is skateboarding. Have you noticed any recent ups or downs in skateboarding culture?

Skateboarding is very healthy, but it’s going through a transition period where companies are ending or reformulating, while smaller, efficient brands are entering with a bang. Boards are getting bigger and changing shapes, so skaters are starting to have more hybrid styles where they ride transitions and street at the same time. As a lifestyle, it is only getting better, because parents and grandparents are now handing it down generations to their kin.

The financial side of pro skating is challenging, including getting sponsorship, health insurance, and steady jobs. What causes these issues?

It’s tough, because there is no governing body in skateboarding to watch over the athletes like the NBA or NFL. A career can be a couple decades or a couple years with very limited earning power. Right now, like the country’s economy, there is a top tier of great skaters with all the sponsors, while there is a second tier of equally great skaters who have far less and are struggling to make ends meet. There’s not much middle ground.

Any plans to expand the store?

We’re always looking at options, but 2016 seems to be our goal to make some sort of move. By the time you’re reading this, we should have up with a full webstore. We also plan on branding the shop name more. People are always complaining we never make enough tees or hats, though that’s a nice complaint to have.

Have you achieved the goal you set out to accomplish when you opened Programme?

Well, we haven’t reached our goal of having Wugazi actually play a show here, so that one’s still a work in progress. Can’t get those guys to rehearse…

But, ultimately, every time someone compliments us on having a shop that carries everything they like or thanks us for supporting their scene, then we’ve achieved that goal.

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