1980s Icon Gains Momentum

JU Bookstore Sells Penny Boards, Increases Popularity on Campus

Blake+Hibdon%2C+senior+communication+major%2C+skates+on+his+penny+board+outside+Howard+Administration+Building.

Christina Kelso

Blake Hibdon, senior communication major, skates on his penny board outside Howard Administration Building.

In early July, the Jacksonville University campus bookstore received its first shipment of penny boards.

Originally an icon of the 1980s, these lightweight boards with small plastic decks have experienced a resurgence in popularity among skateboarders in recent years. Known for their speed and flexibility, penny boards possess traits fitting for short distance riding around college campuses.

The decision to start selling the boards at JU was made by the bookstore’s parent company, Follett, based on sales and popularity among college students across town at the University of North Florida

Blake Hibdon, senior communications major and avid skateboarder since childhood, is one of several students at JU that use a penny board to get around campus.

“I think they’re better for cruising,” Hibdon said. “You don’t have to push as much and you can go really fast.”

The popularity of the boards gained further momentum in August, when acclaimed skateboarder and 2013 X Games Gold Medalist Lizzie Armanto, began endorsing the boards for the company Penny Skateboards, the same company which distributes penny boards the JU books.

Penny boards sold at JU bookstore for $100 to $140.
Jennifer Kiss
Penny boards sold at JU bookstore for $100 to $140.

Penny boards are one of four distinct styles of skateboards, the short board, long board, penny board, and caster board. Each style board features differing capabilities, aesthetics and crowd followings. Another popular choice among college students is the longboard, which have long and heavy wooden decks.

“I’ve never actually ridden a penny board,” said Jared Mickler, junior accounting major who rides a two-wheeled caster board to and from class.

The University offers a flexible environment for students who choose to take up skateboarding for their cross-campus

Blake Hibdon, senior communication major, skates on his penny board outside Howard Administration Building.
Christina Kelso
Blake Hibdon, senior communication major, skates on his penny board outside Howard Administration Building.

commutes, permitting the sport in most outdoor areas. However, activities considered “dangerous and disruptive,” such as skateboarding inside campus buildings and handrail tricks, are banned.

With a sizable skating presence at JU, Follett anticipates the boards to sell well and sell fast, both with experienced skaters and beginners looking for a faster, more stylish commute to class.

However, the bookstore’s store director, Little Van said sales are starting out slow.

“We’re hoping that as more students see them, interest grows and we’ll see more sales,” she said.

In the bookstore, penny boards range in price from $100 to $140.

“For a plastic board I think they should be made more affordable for students,” Mickler said.

Hibdon said that he believes that the boards will pick up in popularity.

“I think that as more people see the boards, and see other people riding around campus, they’ll think ‘Oh yeah, I can do that too.’”