New York, NY – Board sports giants Billabong and {{{Element}}} marked the opening of their shiny new joint retail location on the ground floor of the MTV building in the heart of Times Square with a swanky VIP reception, athlete autograph session and an after-party that was still raging as this article was going to press.Notables who made the journey to New York included stars from the world's of surf, skate, snow and music, including Andy Irons, Donovan Frankenreiter, Keala Kennely, Sanoe Lake,Tara Dakides, Tosh Townend, {{{Colt}}} Cannon, Bam Margera and Bucky Lasek.As crowds of onlookers and paparazzi surged against the doors, VIP's enjoyed exotic appetizers and colorful cocktails amidst the aisles of Billabong, Element, Honolua, Von Zipper and Kustom products.The store itself occupies 6,000 square feet of space that enjoys a parade of over 1.8 million people per day past its doors. Divided into two discrete zones, the south side of the store is all surf while the north side is all skate. Flat panel screens are placed throughout and the storefront itself includes a 60 foot video screen that runs an array of surf, snow and skate videos.

The store was opened several weeks ago without any visible exterior branding and with minimal marketing. Early returns suggest that even optimistic expectations are being blown away. A smiling Graham Stapelberg put it this way: "Everyone involved in the operation is stoked. We couldn't have picked a better spot."As the VIP reception wound down, the crowd made its way to the Maritime Hotel in the Meatpacking District where a full rager was just getting started. A slightly dazed Paul Naude surveyed the crowd and wondered out loud how 400 invitations could generate 1,000 rsvp's. "That's alright, I guess" he said in his South African patois. "Better that sending out 400 invitations and having {{{100}}} turn up."

The mob was littered with athletes, media heavyweights, apparel executives, designers, musicians, actors, models and an amazing array of talent. As one insider put it, "these are the people who matter in New York."