The idea for the skateboard/streetwear brand Fucking Awesome (FA for short) started with professional skater Jason Dill. Henry, FA’s store manager, shared with Manhattan Sideways that Jason got the idea to start his own brand in the early 2000s, but first stuck to tee shirts and stickers for friends. Eventually, his brand was large enough to sell what FA is now known for—skateboards. The company quickly became popular since it was exclusive - only "real" skateboarding shops could carry their boards. Though Jason opened his first location in Hollywood, not New York, he dreamed of having a location in the city. As a large portion of his skating career was in NYC, Jason wanted to build up the skating community for everyone here, according to Henry. Ultimately, he found the perfect spot for his shop - a block from Tompkins Square Park, "where allthe skaters hang out, " and opened FA's NYC location in 2021.
With Capitol Fishing Tackle on 36th Street, it made perfect sense to discover the largest boating supply retailer in the world on 37th. For any and all boating enthusiasts, West Marine is a must. Boaters can find the right gadgets, gear and fittings to suit their needs. Manhattan Sideways member, and sailor extraordinaire, Megan, has asked the salespeople countless times to help her find the right nut and bolt, cleat, or pulley from hundreds of different options, and each time she has walked out of the store with exactly what she needed to keep her own boat high-tech. She told me that the knowledge about all things boating in West Marine is remarkable. This large franchise originated in Randy Repass’s small garage in 1968, and grew to be an international business of boating-related products. With Randy at the helm every step of the way, and his passion to satisfy each customer’s desires, it is smooth sailing some forty years later.
When Mark Mason graduated from college in 1971, he asked himself, “What do you want to do? ” Luckily, he had a passion to guide him: tennis. His love for the sport converged with the tennis boom of the 1970s, which created a need for more tennis shops. In 1975, he opened his own business on Seventh Avenue, where he quickly developed a reputation for innovation and quality. The store’s success, however, did not come without hardships. In 1999, Mark was pushed out of his original location. But he proudly told us, “I refused to let that defeat me. ” Instead of giving up, he moved the store to its present spot on E 53rd Street. With an 80-square-foot window, 1000 square feet of selling space, constant foot traffic, and an affordable rent for an independent retailer, the move proved to be the perfect way for Mark’s business to continue thriving. Today, Mason's Tennis is one of the last tennis shops in Manhattan, and Mark has been in the business for 50 years.. Mark has always looked for ways to improve. He constantly brings in new tennis products before anyone else. Mason’s Tennis has always been a leader in the tennis industry and helped to pioneer the brands Fila, Asics and Babolat in the US. Mark is also a member of the Asics Advisory Board. Mason's Tennis has become world-renowned as a shop that carries the best that tennis has to offer combined with excellent customer service. Mark’s daughter Dana joined his team in 2004 and is another key to the store’s success. She discovered Monreal, the upscale sportswear brand for women that has been a hit at Wimbledon since 2013. The addition of this luxury brand helped to attract additional female customers. Every year, the father-daughter team goes to the tournaments in Indian Wells, California, where they often find new, top-of-the-line goods – including bags and accessories – to introduce to the East Coast. In addition to his strong local customer base, Mark describes many of the frequent visitors to his store as “upscale, international clientele who play tennis on a regular basis and can’t find good products where they live. ” While Masons is very popular with a great number of New York tennis enthusiasts, Mark mentioned, “We are more famous in Brazil than we are here. ” So what is it that keeps drawing these clients back from so far away? Personalized treatment, professionalism, and quality goods are just three reasons. He emphasized, “We go beyond what other stores do, and we have a passion for what we do. ” As for his sales team, Mark exclusively hires tennis players – they truly understand what they are selling. Some employees have been at Mason’s Tennis for many years. Mark knows that when shopping, “you want someone who's willing to help you, wants to talk to you, and find out what your needs are. ” He feels strongly that his knowledgeable and personable team gives his brick and mortar business the edge over the often-impersonal Internet. And that attitude has certainly stood him in good stead – in 2020, Mason's Tennis was awarded "Best Tennis Shop" in the United States by Racquet Sports Industry Magazine.
Before the advent of the automobile, horses were a ubiquitous sight on Manhattan’s side streets, particularly on East 24th. With its various stables and tack shops, the street was known as the city’s equine epicenter. Today, Manhattan Saddlery is the last equestrian and tack store left in New York City. Originally operating under the name of “Miller’s Harness Company, ” the shop has remained a leading figure in the city’s equestrian life since its opening. The smell of leather permeates the elegant, three-storied interior, where a vast selection of modern English riding equipment, apparel, and horse-themed novelty items is displayed. Serving the community of high-end professional horse riders and hobbyists, the shop’s clients have included members of both the Rockefeller and Kennedy families. In the early 1990s, Miller’s was sold and became Copperfield’s, a tack store of the same standard as Miller’s. In 2002, June Tsang, previously a devoted customer of Miller’s, purchased the business and renamed it Manhattan Saddlery. Now run by her son, Nick Tsang, Manhattan Saddlery upholds the time-honored legacy of its predecessors and strives to enhance the equestrian lifestyle of New York City.
Wise words from manager Charlie Rhee: "As a salesperson, you end up selling something. I'd rather be selling something I like. " Simple, yet too true. Manhattan, despite lacking green fairways, has a significant golfing population that takes this sport very seriously. Back in 1983, when Charlie's father founded the store on 36th Street, there was a gaping niche between golf pro shops, on the one hand, and more generalized sporting goods stores on the other. Need, meet solution. Clearly, the idea was a good one, as the shop ultimately moved into a larger space (1991), added a second floor (1999), and opened a second shop (2013) on 40th Street. The success is understandable; everybody that works here, from Charlie on down, is an avid golfer, and the enthusiasm for and knowledge of the sport permeates the floor. When I asked Josh, a co-worker, one day, about his interest in golf, his quick response was "I am obsessed with the sport. " The vibe, then, is like a mega-pro-shop, minus the exclusivity. This has led to consistent honors among Golf Digest's top 100 golf shops in the country.