Todd Huber is the guy behind the world’s first skateboarding museum and largest skateboard collection — a decades-long passion that was the unexpected result of a former vice.
“I quit smoking cigarettes,” recalls Todd Huber, founder of the Skateboarding Hall of Fame and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif. “I got hypnotized, and the program was to figure out how much money you spend each year on cigarettes, and if you suddenly had that money in your hand right now what would you do with it?”
That’s when a friend suggested that Huber, an avid skateboarded, look for a skateboard to buy. He found one, and then another and another. “It started just as a hobby in my garage, and then as I got more into it I realized there was not one museum for skateboarding in the world. So I just said, ‘I’m gonna do it.’”
“This is the world’s largest skateboard collection,” he says and, while he hasn’t counted them one by one, he estimates he’s got about 5,000 pieces. “I’ve been collecting for 30 years,. When I started collecting I was 24.”
Huber’s museum has seen lots of celebrity traffic — David Beckham and his family (who were regulars at one time), Britney Spears, Will Smith and, most recently, rapper YG with his daughter. “The kids were going crazy,” he recalls.
The price of his boards range from those he’s gotten for free, “on the low side,” to “maybe $1,500.” For a long time, he says, “I had a rule where I wouldn’t spend more than 20 bucks… and I left behind some great skateboards that were 30 bucks, and I’m so bummed with myself because now they’re like, hundreds.”
Over Huber’s 30 years of collecting, he surmises, “I’ve probably spent $100,000,” maybe more. “Somebody thought [the collection] was worth maybe half a million.”
The most he ever spent on an item, he says, “was on a skate car…called White Lightning… and it was 12,000 bucks.”
Almost every board in the museum, he says, has been used and well-loved. “The thing I love about collecting skateboards in general is a lot of them are custom-made. I love that! Some kid went in when he was however old and picked out this board, all the way down to the stickers,” he says.
Something that people don’t know, Huber adds, is when skateboarding started, (“and nobody knows when it started,”) “you couldn’t buy a skateboard, you had to make it. And I dig that. I just love the fact that some kid, maybe a kid and his dad, they made those boards. So that, to me, is what makes collecting skateboards so unique,” he explains. “There’s no book that shows you every skateboard, and no collector will ever have every skateboard.”
Huber still skates today. “I like to say I’m a lifelong skater — and I’m not that good, but I’m better than a lot of these kids.” The thing about skateboarding, he adds, particularly for the younger set, is that they are underdogs. “Everyone’s always yelling at them or chasing the out of the space, and this place here in the museum, it’s a home for the underdogs and I’m really proud. That’s a cool thing.”
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