Thirteen-year-old Brian Sikes brought his skateboard to a halt, brushed back his sweaty hair and walked to the front counter.
"You have any water?" he asked.
"Nope, just Coke." Danny Exume responded. Sikes reached in his pocket and removed a wrinkled dollar.
Business was slow on this weekday at Skate City, an 8,000-square-foot skate park opened in June by Exume and his partner, Danny Zwartz.
On the weekends, the park has drawn as many as 20-30 skaters. But they only trickle in during the week.
The goal is to eventually buy advertising and maybe shoot their own commercials to gain exposure. For now, the business partners keep their prices low -- $10 to skate all day -- and rely on word of mouth.
"Right now, they're getting a deal," said Exume, a Greenbrier High School graduate. "They don't think they are, but they do."
And Skate City has given Augusta-area skaters an option. Before it opened, the nearest parks were in Atlanta and Columbia.
Exume, 23, graduated last summer from Chattahoochie Technical College, in Marietta. He chose the school so he could skate in nearby Atlanta.
He and Zwartz began talks in September 2007 about the possibility of a skate park in the Augusta area.
Exume convinced his parents to co-sign on a business loan and Skate City was tentatively off the ground. A sign on a warehouse off the interstate led the partners to their location, in Evans off Wheeler Road.
The sign has since been replaced with one of their own, a giant Skate City banner that can be seen from I-20 just before the Belair Road exit.
The sign is what drew both Sikes and his friend, 13-year-old Nick Thomas, both of Harlem.
"I've never been to a skate park," Sikes said before dropping his board for another ride. "This place is awesome. I'm coming here again before summer ends."
Exume and Zwartz are hoping customers like Sikes will spread the word. Their initial investment might take a while to recoup. In addition to purchasing the space, the pair bought and hauled all the ramps and other equipment from parks in Atlanta.
"Right now, I'm pretty much working for nothing," Exume admitted.
That could change later, but for now, Exume is content to be on the ground level of the area's only skate park.
After a lengthy stint behind the counter, he grabbed his board and joined Sikes and Thomas.
"Whoa, you can skate?" Sikes asked.
"Yeah," Exume said, laughing. "Everybody always asks me that."
He zooms off as Sikes and Thomas watch closely. He flies up a ramp at the far end of the warehouse and back, past a mural of the late entertainer James Brown.
Exume and Zwartz eventually want Skate City to hold competitions. But for now, the venue is open to anything with wheels and has drawn skateboards, rollerblades and bikes.
Exume said the next step, which could be a long way off, would be to expand. He had eyes on a neighboring warehouse, which boasts 30,000 square feet. But the current tenant has a three-year lease.
He, Zwartz and their customers are content simply to have a place to skate.
"The kids love it," Exume said. "It's hard to believe they used to roll around on flat ground."
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