Rudy Porter is the founder of Slick Willies, and it is one of the UK’s leading skate retailers, with one of the longest established skate shops in London. The business focuses on inline skates, roller skates, scooters, skateboards and various accessories. The business now operates from its shop in West London’s Gloucester Road, which is right near to inline skates London paradise, Hyde Park.
Slick Willies, named after a well-known US pool hall, first began trading in the 1970s. A then unemployed 16-year old started helping out for free and then after a few years, he was bold enough to set up his own skate store in a Hammersmith basement. Then, Rudy's big break came when the original Slick Willies had changed its name and fallen into decline. This enabled the business to be registered by himself and, crucially rent its premises.
Slick Willies became a success, making a £50,000 investment back in its first year. It continued to prosper until a major redevelopment project forced the business to relocate, to its current premises in Gloucester Road and customers gradually got to know about the new store.
Key developments in the strategy of the business refocusing Slick Willies on its original speciality of skating and skateboarding, after a period in which it diversified into baseball and American football. Like most retailers, in the current high street struggles it does take its toll and the business’s strategy for the next 18 months is to work towards expansion, and the development of the brand to open a further store. Slick Willies will not be a typical chain retailer, they want to stay with their laid-back approach. Their reputation for quality and service has made it a must visit the store for serious skaters, and trendsetting celebrates alike.
Rudy Porter is fulsome in his praise of the Forum of Private Business. “For a while, our membership was a reassurance, but I didn’t use it,” he says. “Then someone sent me some till rolls and tried to charge me a fortune for them, which turned out to be a scam. I contacted the membership helpline at the Forum and they talked me through what I needed to do’. The Forum was so supportive and reassuring that they would help me with this matter.”
Since then, Rudy has used the Forum’s helpline on various occasions, particularly for advice on property and employment issues. “If I’d had to pay for lawyers, it would have cost me thousands. The Forum has taken a massive pressure off the business, it’s like having a big brother looking out for you.”