By Matt Kyle | Staff Writer
Coming from his hometown of Malibu, Calif., to Waco, junior Dan Rettinger found few opportunities for his first passion: surfing. His second passion, skating, also didn’t have much of a presence in Waco. Rettinger said the lack of a skating presence in Waco and his “trailblazer” entrepreneurial spirit led him to found a skating apparel company, Local Skate Rats, in June 2021.
Now, after several successful clothing drops, Rettinger said he is working toward opening his own skate shop in downtown Waco and is hoping to open the store this summer.
Rettinger said he started Local Skate Rats as a way to build his resume. He saw a market for skating in Waco due to the increase of students and current clothing trends involving skate clothes.
“I’m always wanting to either be in the water or at the skate park,” Rettinger said. “I wanted to bring my passion to the Baylor campus because I see a big opportunity with the population growth of the freshman class and the tourism each year. I just feel like there’s a market for skating downtown.”
Rettinger said the mission of his company is to support local businesses. He said it is important to support small businesses in order to both bolster local communities and stand against big corporations.
“The biggest thing is about supporting local brands, so what I’m doing is partnering with Hole in the Roof Waco, the print shop; that’s one way I’m supporting the Waco community,” Rettinger said. “Big corporations rule the world. COVID hit, and now everyone’s being more aware of social and environmental effects. Oftentimes, those big corporations cut corners and try to do the cheapest quality product just to get it out there.”
Rettinger said he wants his store to be a “multifaceted” skate shop that addresses many aspects of skating and fashion.
“I’m trying to twist the modern skate shop,” Rettinger said. “I’m going to do a skate shop, my own clothing line, a vintage thrift shop where you can sell your clothes that are in trend style for either store credit or a reduced amount of cash. Then there’s also going to be screen printing and custom hats for any local skaters that want to make their own clothing line.”
While he doesn’t have a location locked down yet, Rettinger said he is eyeing a location on Austin Avenue, near Dichotomy Coffee and Spirits and the Waco Downtown Farmer’s Market.
Shaun Limbers, associate director of Baylor’s Entrepreneurship Center, said that he met Rettinger through his accelerated ventures class and that he has been helping Rettinger develop his company by bringing a structured approach to the planning process.
Limbers said it takes determination to start a business and develop it to the point Rettinger is at now.
“Entrepreneurship is a classic example that it really takes tenacity,” Limbers said. “It takes looking at the world and saying, ‘You know what? It’s not easy, but I’m going to really charge ahead. There’ll be ups, and there will be downs. I’ll learn from the downs, I’ll learn from the ups, but I’m really going to forge ahead and do that.’ That’s really half the battle. We all hear the statistics of how a lot of companies end up failing. Yes, that can be the case. But one, you can learn through failure. And two, I think it’s really sticking to your plan and seeing it through, and when times get tough, to pick yourself up off the mat.”
Dallas freshman Matthew Stills said he is a fan of Local Skate Rats because of the designs and how Rettinger promotes the brand on social media. Stills also reiterated the importance of small businesses and said it is “inspiring” to see people build their companies.
“I want to support other people and their visions,” Stills said. “I think Dan could really build up a skate shop in Waco, and I think it can do really well.”
Rettinger said he hopes to continue to build his company by expanding to have more of a presence online. He also said in the future, he hopes to sign professional skaters and expand into the surfing and wakeboarding realms.
Rettinger will have a booth at the Eastside Market — a market for local artists and artisans — on March 20.
Rettinger said the experience of starting a company has taught him the importance of collaboration.
“It’s taught me the necessity of networking and hard work, because I’ve had to rely and call upon a lot of people for advice,” Rettinger said. “It’s made me a better listener and learner. Entrepreneurship, you go into it thinking it’s just you trailblazing by yourself. But being a true entrepreneur is actually relying on a bunch of people and building a huge network. Entrepreneurship actually is very collaborative, which is a really cool thing.”