September 7, 2005
Tom Inouye and his friends used to drain people’s pools while they were on vacation so they could skate in them — that is, until they got caught.
After that, they would put a sign in the lawn that said “Inouye’s Pool Service” before they drained the pool, to fool the police and passers-by into thinking that they were a pool-cleaning business. They never got caught again.
Ever since then, in the late 70s, Inouye’s Pool Service has been a well-known name in the skate community — Inouye was even named the second-best skater in the world around that same time.
Now Tom Inouye has brought Inouye’s Pool Service to Hood River.
Inouye and his wife, Kathryn, purchased Epoch Skate Shop from Blake and Suzie Richards early this year, and took over operations on June 1. They also renamed the store IPS — Inouye’s Pool Service.
“We’ve upped the inventory and have more inventory geared toward skateboarding,” Inouye said.
Inouye used to work at Windell’s Camp in Welches, Ore., a camp that focuses on skiing, snowboarding and skating. But “things didn’t work out,” he said, and he tried to find his niche.
“I knew Blake and Suzie had this shop, and my wife and I talked about it and approached them about being partners,” Inouye said. “They said they actually wanted to get rid of it, so we made a deal and bought it.”
Inouye started skating because there wasn’t much else for him to do, he said.
“I really wanted to play team sports. But they told me I was too small for football and too short for basketball. So I started to surf and skate,” he said.
What Inouye didn’t know at the time was that his new hobbies would one day make him world famous. In fact, it was pure serendipity that it happened.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” he said. “I got some photos taken of me, and then I got sponsors and I went around the world.”
He also says that it was one of the best things that ever happened to him. “It got me out of east L.A., and probably literally saved my life,” he said.
Inouye now produces skateboards under the IPS label, and is giving his gift to the rest of the world. “I try to build a skate park in every town I live in,” he said. “It’s time to give it back to the kids.”
IPS is located at 1225 Wasco St. and is open from
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.