I could write a book about Far East, and maybe someday I will, but in the meantime, due to a quickly approaching deadline for this week’s installment of Zaturdays, I’ll give you the highly abbreviated Cliff’s Notes version of what could have been one of the greatest and most influential board companies of all time. But wasn’t.
Mike Bouchard standing all the way up on a back fifty somewhere in the Far East.
Far East was Skatepark of Tampa’s official deck brand. It was in business for approximately one year, spanning from 1998 into 1999. Sadly no, the reason for its demise was not the Y2K bug.
The company was our reaction to the rad and inspiring brands that had come out of the North East, which included Zoo York, Illuminati (later Silver Star), Capital, Nicotine, Big East, Metropolitan, First Division, and probably some others that I’m failing to remember right now. Those companies were made up of all raw East Coast street rippers (many of whom were also in EEIII): Ricky Oyola, Matt Reason, Sean Mullendore, Sergei Trudnowski, Pep Martinez, Andy Stone, Reese Forbes, Harold Hunter, and on and on. Far East might have been more of a bite than a tribute.
You might notice the resemblance to some of the companies that inspired Far East. If not, well then I’m going to assume you never noticed the companies in the first place.
In addition to SPoT, Josh Stewart and Chris Williams were FE’s the other partners. Josh went on to film the Static videos and start Theories, Chris went on to open MIA in Miami with Ed Selego.
The Far East team included Mike Daher (post Stereo), Paul Urich (Paisley!), Mike Bouchard, Allen Russell (the current King of Ybor), Chris Williams, and Joel Meinholz (pre Stereo and pre Planet Earth), and Jerry Giardina aka Jerry Blacksnake. I was on the team too as the token vert guy who tried to street skate.
I couldn’t resist! Had to try to show off my marginal street skills. Woah, noseslide!
Here are some reasons Far East, as great as it was, only lasted a year and never took over the industry:
- Jeff Lenoce was going to be the first am on the team and we were going to prep him to be our top pro, but then he got on Birdhouse like the day before we officially opened for business.
- Ed Selego was going to be our second am on the team and we were going to prep him to be our other top pro, but he got on Planet Earth like the day we officially opened for business.
- The first run of boards, something like 500 decks burned up like 50% of our start up capital, and the shapes were so bad as to be unridable. So word to the wise, if you’re starting a new board brand make sure you approve some samples before ordering an entire run. They didn’t sell, in fact they might be in a pile somewhere in the Boards for Bros warehouse to this day.
- We spent the other 50% of start up capital on ads that appeared in the back of SLAP Magazine. I loved SLAP and wish it was still in print, but apparently ads in the back of SLAP in 1998 weren’t worth much.
- We never put out a video…or even a teaser…and Instagram was still 15 years away.
- Who knows what’s going to catch on and what’s not, but Far East didn’t catch on, until right after we closed it down. Then suddenly everyone started asking me about it.
Mike Daher (pronounced “Dare”) in an ad that you could have found in the back of SLAP in 1999.
Enough of all that. Here’s a quick update. I recently came across the Far East Skate Network on Instagram. I’m not sure if it’s a board company or what, but it’s not the same brand, I think it’s out of Japan, which would at least make it the REAL Far East. We could probably sue them or something if we wanted, but that wouldn’t fit with our vibe. I hope they kill it as hard as we didn’t.
Keeping the dream alive in 2017. Good for them, and Godspeed!