Carl Johnson has loved playing the drums and skateboarding since he was 10 years old.
Four decades later, the 50-year-old Johnson and his wife, Lisa, have moved their Coalition Drum Shop and Coalition Board Shop businesses to Suite 102 at 1207 S. Third St., in the new addition to the Dave’s Guitar Shop building.
Both businesses opened in their new space May 1. Before that, they had been in a temporary space in the guitar shop building since October. And before that, they were at 215 State St.
Carl Johnson said guitar shop owner Dave Rogers had approached him about moving his businesses to the addition, as his drum business complements the guitar shop business.
“This doubled our retail space,” Johnson said of the move to the new location. “If I was going to stay downtown, I would have needed more space” because of the growth in the drum shop’s business, he said.
Johnson opened the drum shop in March 2012. The board shop’s roots date back to 1985, when Johnson opened Pro Skate, which sold skateboards, apparel and shoes. He later added snowboards and Rollerblades and renamed the business Coalition Board Shop with its move to the State Street location in 2007.
The Johnsons also owned Smith’s Cycling and Fitness in La Crosse from 1994 until they sold it in April 2016, so they could focus on the drum shop and board shop.
Their businesses will share the same storefront.
Besides Carl Johnson, the store is staffed by two full-time and two part-time employees. The two part-timers include the Johnsons’ son, Josh. (They also have two daughters, Anna and Emma.) “He’s also a really good drummer,” Carl said of his son.
His wife, a native of Peterson, Minn., is a registered nurse and works for Logistics Health Inc. in La Crosse. Carl is a native of La Crosse.
The Johnsons’ drum shop sells drums, cymbals and other percussion products. It welcomes trade-ins and also offers repairs, tuning, delivery, setup, online sales and drumming lessons.
The shop recently acquired a drum set used by Billy Mason, drummer for country music star Tim McGraw, and has it for sale at the store with an asking price of $3,000.
Most drums at the store sell for $200 to $2,000.
The drum shop draws people from a 100-mile radius that includes Eau Claire and Rochester, Minn., with occasional customers from Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
“We’ve had lots of professional drummers come through the store, moreso than when we were downtown,” Johnson said. “Dave’s Guitar Shop has been a must-see place for a lot of guitarists and other musicians.”
Bryan Hitt, drummer for REO Speedwagon, stopped at Coalition Drum Shop last October when the band was in town to perform at the La Crosse Center. “He was very interested in my vintage snare drums,” although he didn’t buy one, Johnson said.
The board shop sells skateboards, snowboards, longboards, Rollerblades and scooters. It also offers tune-ups and repairs and by the end of the year will offer online sales.
The board shop’s clientele is more local, Johnson said, with many customers from the La Crosse area as well as Viroqua, Sparta, Tomah and Winona, Minn.
Johnson still enjoys longboarding and drumming.
He said he is a “fill-in” drummer for a couple local bands, and at his church.
In his younger years, he played drums in the local band Shy Boy in the early to mid-1980s, as well as the band Trouble Shooter in the late 1980s.
“They’ve certainly been my lifelong passions,” Johnson said of drumming, skateboarding and longboarding. “I enjoy having a career working with people who share my passion and who want to buy those products.”