You can get a lot of advice (and maybe too many opinions) from fellow skaters. Some of it might not be as informed or educated as a shop owner's (and some might be flat-out bad advice), but it should at least be sincere! If you don't have a local skate park, or are too uncomfortable to walk up to people and ask, you can also ask around on a skateboarding forum. People there will be more than happy to tell you what they think about deck brands.
Many of the most popular skateboard brands sponsor teams of skaters, like Zero's Jamie Thomas and Element's Barn Margera. Professional skaters are often good sources of information as to what skateboard you should buy. If a pro skater rides a certain board, there is a good chance that if he or she finds that it is high enough quality you will also like the board. Users looking for a new skateboard will want to research a variety of different brands to find the one that best suits their needs, based on function and features.
When you’re at the skate park or in a freestyle environment at a parking lot or structure, you want to have the most stability possible. You wouldn’t want your trucks cracking or a ball bearing spewing out during the landing of a nice front style 360 flip. If you’re in school, then choosing a skateboard brand for college while you’re away will be extremely easy given that this board is so very cheap and durable.
Without good grip tape, skaters have a tough time staying on top of their board. The main complaints about poor grip tape tend to be that it was never very grippy or lost its grip really quickly. Once again, we recommend trusting in name brands with years of experience supporting skateboarders. Unfortunately, if you are buying a pre-made complete skateboard, you probably won't have access to the brand name of the grip.