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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Street Surfing the Hyde Park Way

By Jennifer Yeager

You may have seen Jeff Risinger skateboarding around Hyde Park. And you probably noticed Jeff’s board is so long it looks more like a surfboard than a skateboard. According to Jeff, shorter skateboards are great for short rides, fun and tricks while longboards are truly a means of transportation. Jeff is such a fan of longboards that he and his wife, Valerie Woodham, established Cincinnati Cruiser, LLC, a family-owned business that makes “beautiful, classically shaped longboards.”  

Donation of Red Dyed Maple board to Ronald McDonald House for Red Tie Gala
Though they’ve now been in business for two years, it all started with handcrafted boards made as special Christmas gifts for the couple’s daughters. Jeff said, “I was always a rider from about age five, and I still have my original board. Now that we have two girls (ages nine and three), I thought they’d like one handmade from Daddy.” The boards turned out to be a big hit, and the next thing he knew, Jeff was making four more boards for his neighbors, then two more as donations to St. Mary’s Funfest. Before long, “Lots of people started asking,” Jeff said.

Cruising up at Ault Park with the inspirations of the family business
This is where Valerie enters the story. When she saw how popular the longboards were with her Hyde Park neighbors, she suggested to Jeff they start a business. “Before I even knew it,” laughed Jeff, “Val had obtained a business license and established an LLC.” 

Leftover woods are made into toys, paddleboat, tank and the Leftover Dozer - among other neat items!
“People seem to really like the classic surfboard kind of look” that Jeff makes, Valerie explained. Skateboards that are mass-produced tend to have a rough finish on the top and artwork on the bottom. “Jeff’s boards have the pretty stuff on the top and bottom,” Valerie said, making each longboard both a means of transportation and a handmade work of art.

Happy owner Jeff Risinger with Hyde Park resident Jeffry Armada buying the Zebrawood board at the Hyde Park Art Show
“We operate out of a small workshop, and everything is done by hand,” Jeff said. Typically, Cincinnati Cruiser makes longboards from sustainable yield harvests of North American and exotic woods in four different sizes, ranging from 27" all the way up to 40". If a customer has something specific in mind, Jeff can custom make any size or style using any preferred wood.

Red 40 and Black Wenge 27 mini cruiser
While Jeff handles the production side of the business, Valerie manages the business end, including sales and marketing. “We were very fortunate,” Valerie said “to be in the prestigious Hyde Park Art Show in 2016 and 2017. It was a great opportunity for the community to visualize the boards,” she said. In addition, Jeff says he “creates individual handmade toys from any wood scraps left over.” “They’re food safe and kid safe.” Lately Jeff’s been making toy bulldozers, paddle boats and ring toss games as well as cheese boards, cutting boards, bottle openers and personalized signs. Since they’re all handmade from scrap wood, no two are exactly alike.

Custom American Girl Doll skateboards made for the owners’ daughters Christmas 2017
According to Valerie, Cincinnati Cruiser tripled its sales in 2017. She attributes this phenomenal growth to the visibility they received as artists in the Hyde Park Art Show as well as their growing social and traditional media presence. But more than that, Valerie and Jeff say it’s their Cincinnati and Hyde Park neighbors who are helping the business grow. Due to these connections, Cincinnati Cruiser has shipped longboards to places as far away as California and Oregon; they’ve even shipped longboards to Saudi Arabia and to Valerie’s home country, New Zealand. 

Custom kids’ room signs
“We’re very excited because people have been so receptive to our little business, and we’re grateful for the support from the city and neighborhood,” Valerie said. “Hyde Park folks are just really friendly,” Jeff added. “When we moved here, the plan was to stay for five years. That was 15 years ago,” he laughed.

For more information on custom longboards and how to order, visit Jeff Risinger and Valerie Woodham at

27" custom order with light-up wheels delivering at Awakenings

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