By Becky Roozen Published Jul 27, 2004 at 5:37 AM

{image1}He spent almost 17 years out west in Oregon and northern California, but Christian Deaton's devotion to snowboarding brought him back to Milwaukee to set up shop.

Deaton, 33, and partner Daniel Shafer recently opened Moda 3, 320 E. Buffalo St., a "rider-driven and rider-owned" store specializing in snowboards, skateboards, men's and women's clothing, shoes and accessories.

"There's no place that has that urban feel, clean, upscale boutique, that feels like New York City or the southern California vibe," says Deaton. "There's a niche for it, and (with) snowboarding being a big focus here, there was nobody really representing that well.

"There's no reason why all this fashion-forward stuff has to be in New York. People here like that, too, and that's what we want to do," he says.

So, that's exactly what they've done.

After working a combined 13 years at Torque Center, the owners certainly have experience in the business. Deaton ran the snowboarding department and says he's been into street-wear fashion for more than a decade.

He says Milwaukee was in need of a place to represent those interests. "You kind of have people that dabble in it, that sell patio furniture and tennis rackets," says Deaton, who has been snowboarding about 14 years.

But, "It's hard to sell snowboards and patio furniture. That's not 100 percent dedication to the sport, and that's what we are here."

{image2}And Deaton is nothing if not dedicated. "I try to tell people 'just give it a shot,' because I used to ski, and it's a lot different feel," he says. "It's a feel that you can't really explain -- that whole surfing on snow kind of a feel that skiing just didn't do."

His devotion to the store surely surpasses his passion for riding, though. Deaton says his customers are important, and he hopes to please them with prices, too.

"Just because we're going with the cleaner look that's more upscale, we will represent every price range," he says.

"You realize not everybody has the top-quality kind of snowboard, or that not everybody wants to. There's something for everybody," Deaton says. "We'll have boards in here that are $200, and we'll have boards in here that are $600, and everything in between."

Customers seem to be taking to Deaton's claims. "It's been steady on the increase, so we're happy about that," he says. "It's pretty onward and upward, and that's good."

Deaton decided on the location for the benefit of his customers, too.

"With one store we wanted to make an impact and have a central location because we want to pull in the North Shore community. We want to pull in from the suburbs out west, so we thought that being right down in the center would make sense," says Deaton. "Everybody has easy freeway access."

Moda 3 is open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

"We'll have some extended hours during the fest season," he says. "You'll probably catch us here an hour or two later most days."