Skateboarding was a large part of teen culture when I was growing up in Houston during the 1980s. The city was understandably famous for having some of the best street skating in the country, with all of its concrete, huge parking lots, and other infrastructure that could be repurposed into a skate-able environment by young people with the guts to risk life and limb jumping curbs and flying off of makeshift ramps.
There was a well established link between skate culture and punk rock, and that was my main attraction to skating. It was exciting and fun, but I was never going to be good at it myself. Three decades later I still own a couple of boards, but I'd probably bust my aging ass if I tried anything any more ambitious than a lazy straight line ride down the block. Despite that knowledge of my limitations, I still like to walk into a skate shop occasionally. A good independent store puts me in touch with my youth, and it also confirms that skating and skate culture has rolled along fine, probably more popular now than it ever was.
You can buy just about anything on the Internet these days, and the are also big chain stores that sell skate gear, but we're fortunate in Houston to have quite a few independent shops run by folks with a passion for skating and the local skate culture. To me, it's far cooler to walk into a brick and mortar store and spend some money locally than it is to buy something, sight unseen, from a giant internet company. Besides being better for the local economy, it puts the consumer in direct contact with people who share their interests, and who can steer them in the right direction and answer questions face to face.
Surfhouse lies on the edge of the Oak Forest area, just outside the 610 Loop, and is Houston's oldest skate and surf shop, having been open since 1967. The inside looks like a jumble of old and new, with modern gear sitting next to posters dating back four decades when the shop was relatively new. I bought a locally manufactured board at Surfhouse about 15 years ago, and they have always been friendly and helpful. There is an obvious excitement about skating and surfing permeating the walls of this store, and it's well worth taking a trip.