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Ancient culture meets modern sport in Nepal's first skateboard shop
Street style, tradition and commerce collide in Arniko's skateboards based on old Nepali wood-carving techniques
Kathmandu in Nepal may not be top of mind when it comes to cool places to pull off a 360. In fact, anyone who's been to Kathmandu knows the idea of skating in this city is kind of outrageous. But that hasn't stopped one Nepali-born Swiss national from opening a skate shop here. Marius Arter opened Nepal's first skate shop Arniko last year with his co-manager, Australian graphics designer James Carson.
The intention is to sell its products to travelers, or via the web to international customers. Skaters take note, Arniko's boards and gear are available for international shipping.
Planted in Thamel, Kathmandu's backpacking district, Arniko sells hand-carved skateboards made using traditional Nepali wood-carving techniques at about US$150 per board. Having just launched, Arter and his crew of European and Nepali skaters are getting the word out through their self-designed T-shirts and other wearable printed goods.
The Arniko shop is tucked inside Thamel's Sagarmatha Bazaar, near the popular nightclub Factory. Arter, whose Nepali name is Arniko, decided to return to Nepal after growing up in Switzerland. Last year he won a business competition to help fund the innovative skateboard concept.
Carson tells CNNGo, "The boards are made up of 60 percent imported Canadian maple, the rest is local wood. These are then hand-carved in Nepal by local artisans using traditional carving methods. The boards are then shipped from Kathmandu to the Arniko Store in Switzerland as well as other stockists, which can be found on the Arniko website."
With boards and T-shirts inspired by Sherpa mountaineers and Nepali tea, always with a street-style twist, Arniko products promise to appeal to a wide range of international skaters. And in a country where local businesses struggle to crack international markets, Arter may just be onto something -- stylish boards with a touch of Nepal. They're usable and help an ancient art thrive through a modern sport.