5.11.2012

chrome ball incident #789: send whatever.




















figured I was the only one that remembered this short-lived marvel until I saw it rep so hard in #stickerwars these last few days. i've honestly been wanting to do a post on Small Room since I started this thing so after being presented with this sudden window of relevancy, I'm going for it.

...but how the hell do I even begin to describe them to anybody that wasn't there for the first go-round?

well, here it goes: Small Room Skateboards was this mysterious micro brand out of cali in the early 90's that suddenly found success when "not being trendy" became the big trend in skateboarding. Alongside fellow geezer fave, Molotov (and early Think), Small Room was one of those "small ad" companies. With the ad space usually reserved for bottom-barrel novelty brands, Small Room took out cryptic b&w quarter page ads in Thrasher and Poweredge to seperate themselves from the evil corporations of the time and bolster an underdog cult-like status that people could really rally behind.

truth be told, I honestly can't tell you that much for certain about the company. I know Russ Pope was involved. That Phil E, Joey Pulsifer, Mako Urabe and a young Frank Hirata all rode for them. Their boards were always great and with surprisingly excellent distribution for such a small company. The logos and ads were sick... even though they didn't really make any fucking sense.

but in a way, that's kinda what made them awesome. be it Neil Blender or David Lynch, if you can somehow manage to incorporate some enigmatic mystique into your vibe to where you're allowed to just remain open-ended without explaining every detail and people still give a shit, you have to ride that out. and that's exactly what Small Room did.

after a good two-year stint (I think), they finally pooped out around '92 in a sea of flash-in-the-pan companies whose runs weren't even close to being as long (public, shine, chapter 7, milk, 1more... the list is endless).

I'd like to say that I can still see a bit of Small Room influence in the smaller companies of today but I'm probably romanticizing it a bit. I'm just glad to see that people still remember this company and even thought  enough to keep some of their stickers. I wish I had.


...though I still can't believe they rejected Chico!

30 comments:

chalker said...

my brother rode a couple of these boards. i was always stoked on the minimalism. i can still see my brother doing rock and rolls on our crappy 1/4 pipe with that green stained board with the long hand logo. he was always way cooler than me.

Anonymous said...

crazy. I remember these Thrasher ads b/c I could only find Thrasher in my area for about 4 years.

Small Room still occupys a spot in my mind apparently.

Thanks for the post man!

Anonymous said...

fuck yeah! can't believe you did this one!

thank you once again

Anonymous said...

Louis Carlton was the dude behind the curtain. Barbier repped it for a minute too.

Keith said...

man! I was always stoked on Smallroom but never saw any of their stuff. I was always fascinated with some of the smaller companies for a while there (early Blockhead, Poorhouse, Brand X, Smallroom, 777 etc)

pro model not coming soon lol

Anonymous said...

my 4th board was a small room. i was able to get one in mississippi.

stephen said...

yeah they must have had decent distribution for a small company back then... i had a smallroom deck once too and i got it in rhode island. i remember it was 91'ish and i cracked my board on some stairs in providence so my friends and i decided to hit up the skate hut (fred smith's old park) and buy a board at the small shop there. i think i only had like $25 or $30 bucks... not enough for a new deck at a shop, but they let me have this smallroom deck they had. haha. i dont even think i had heard of them at the time. i kinda remember being a little bummed on the shape though... i think it had a really small nose and maybe a steep tail. like i remember it was a little outdated at the time. i don't think i rode it for long

justin said...

Well written. I was a big fan of Small Room because of that mysterious nature. I believe they were backed in some way by CCS. I think I've got an interview with somebody from the company in an old catalog I found while researching small wheels.

Also props on the Brian Ferdinand post from a couple days ago..

Anonymous said...

Hemingway of skate co.'s. Iceberg theory. I was too young at the time to "get it", but old enough to know that there was something there that i wasn't understanding, but wanted to. Sick post!

Kris Gurley said...

I skated two small room boards. One was a trade-out with another dude and I liked that one enough to get another. The ads always stoked me out. Sick company.

jay said...

ah, i been waiting for this one, nice work yet again

TRON-DOG WONDER said...

small company shit always the best. btw have you done a circle-a post yet?

Anonymous said...

What, no Zorlac post? Only joking...

Pagoda said...

There's a recent Paulo Diaz interview at 48 blocks you guys should check if have not yet. I hope he gets a couple tricks in the CHOCOLATE/GIRL video...the frontside impossible he throws down is rad.

I'm digging the Small Room post Chops. I missed out on many of the early 90's stuff because of little league and so this is nice to catch up on.

Pagoda said...

err.. backside impossible. That seems to be Paulo's jam these days.

Anonymous said...

San Luis Obispo Represent!!!! Tony Biolos (Shorty's), Russ Pope (Creature, Scarecrow), Louis Carlton (Epic)! They made the scene cool. Dave Carnie was around at this time, Thomas Campbell too. Hell even Doug Smith was around toward the end.The team was mostly locals, Frank Hirata, Chris Watkins, Ryan Schrubert, and Chris Pontius too. Good times, CCS was coming up. San Luis had a ton of visiting pros then, Thrash-A-Thon, was going. Powell skate zone was not far. No Jake Phelps! Skateboarding was good then.

Anonymous said...

Small Room!
i used to be so pysched on them that i would have Exit (the og one on Cottage in Philly) special order them for me.
i believe they sponsored or flowed Skip Millard and he was a dude i looked up to in the earlky days of LOVE.
small companies are the reason skating is dope!

brew said...

anyone still have their Small Room boards? I have a few... heh heheh heh!

White Ninja said...

loving it.. this is the most ive ever posted. makes me remember when i was a kid, skateboarding was the secret of life. made me who i am today. its weird but i do have the fondness of being outcasts with my 3 other friends that were the only skateboarders in town.

and the comments, being from NE, the sk8 hut. wow. i was 12 going to a shifty part of providence and seeing "pro" skater fred smith. those guys ripped the vert ramp. i got scared just looking down it.

Thanks again chops, site is like a time machine.

platinumseagulls said...

Dave Mayhew says something about moving out to CA for Small Room or riding for it in his Wheels of Fortune, if my mind remembers.

Not being around for that era, all I've got to go on is the design of those ads and the design is amazing.

fg said...

Hell yeah! Rad post.

Small Room was pretty big in Switzerland back in the day.

The son of the dude who ran the pharmacy next door to my father's office distributed it here, and made this sick vid that I still watch every now and then, mainly filmed in rural towns in the Alps. Guy Kämpfen had his first section in it. It's on YouTube if anyone cares, here's part 1 > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z1lETKJQ8o

François

Safari said...

Great post!! Thanks. Stoked to see this. The Graphics are still sick today!

They were even distributed in switzerland in 91/92 and produced a team video!

Ex-Darkstar Pro Guy Kampfen at age 12 had a crazy part!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZQ7XSzMxRs

handsclapanin said...

yeah, mayhew was on small room back in the day. the first board I ever got kicked down was a used small room from dave. the only time i ever did a mail order was for a small room board, gullwing street shadows and black bullet street 60 mm. i saw a review of the board in thrasher and was hyped on it. i can still remember how happy i was the day it came got delivered.

skater dave said...

louis was rad. he came into fivepoints to sell smallroom on the road. and tony b. had a mini in sb we`d skate before the skatezone session on occasion. smallroom was awesome and small. had the early foundation feel for up north.

Anonymous said...

Wiz Thornton is the guy in the ads doing the ridiculous backside ollie on the mini ramp and the ollie over the chair. He skated for them pretty much the entire run of the company. Skates the same now as he did back then!

He also rode for Beach Plus Skateshop (now just Plus Skateshop) out of Fort Walton Beach, FL, and Motobilt Trucks (which I believe Louis had his hands on as well). Oh the good ol' days.

Anonymous said...

Mentioned pubic from jersey which had a sick team circa 1990.
Puleo, cardonas (mike r.i.p.), fields and gudiotti.

patradresses.org said...

http://suk-monsters.blogspot.com/2008/12/red-wax-pencil-and-pen.html?showComment=1338247583187#c5625543847234602560

nomad uno said...

Lived + worked with the guys for one summer. I was a homeless Skatebum from Germany and Lewis (Carlton) let me sleep on his kitchen floor for some weeks before i earned some money at the factory and could pay for a room. The best guys... best skatesessions... Riding with Frank Hirata, Russ and all those boys at the time... man it was priceless. Such a good time, right before Skateboarding sold out. SMALL ROOM FOREVER.

Anonymous said...

I used to ride for these guys. Im from Lexington, K.Y. They used to be Eppic skateboards.

Anonymous said...

I was a big Small Room fan in the UK, rode at least 3 of their boards where i could get hold of them. The quality and finish was amazing. Together with Blockhead and Poorhouse, Circle A, best of the indie skate firms.