Boston’s beloved skate mecca makes a move downtown
Photo credit: Eileen Clynes
The owners of Orchard Skateshop in Allston are getting their big boy pants on.
Or at least, that’s how co-owner Armin Bachman describes the opening of their second store on Newbury Street. “We’re pretty psyched about the opportunity,” he said.
“Newbury Street, it’s big time. We’re trying to come out swinging.”
It seems unlikely that they won’t. Bachman appears pretty chill for someone who owns a successful business that’s opening a second location, started and now runs a skateboard advocacy charitable organization, and teaches skate lessons to “a little homie.” Any questions I asked about difficulties they were facing were met by a simple shrug, an acknowledgment that there had been bumps, but for the most part it had been smooth sailing. Or skating, rather.
We spoke in the store’s upstairs Extension Gallery, and on my way to the stairs, behind colorful displays of skateboarding clothing, shoes, and boards, I passed the indoor mini-ramp.
Orchard not only supplies skating gear, but is a huge part of Boston’s skating culture.
The store in Allston is Orchard’s second location. The original, smaller Orchard Skate Shop was started in 2006 by Jon Devoe and Broderick Gumpright in Mission Hill. A few years later, Matt Bagley and Bachman joined the team. After five years of rocketing popularity they needed a bigger space, relocated to Allston, and in their first year there, Orchard was awarded the neighborhood’s Best Business by Boston Main Streets.
As a skateboard specialty store they carry everything from popular, sought after brands like Nike SB and Converse, to lesser known brands like Quiet Life. While Zumiez has a selection of skate shoes from, say, Nike, that’s only about 30 percent of Nike’s selection, estimates Bachman. Orchard gets access to it all.
Bachman has been skating since he was 13 and remembers picking up Thrasher Magazine in 1996 when Boston was declared the best city to skate. Now, he takes owning a Boston business to heart.
“I have a lot of pride for what we do and just am really honored to be able to represent the Boston skate scene,” he said.
But despite this, the city is lacking in public places to skate. The mini-ramp in their store has been part of the solution, and Bachman and his co-owners started the charitable organization Extension Inc. to further their outreach into the community. Projects include skateboard donations, park DIY renovation projects, and advocacy, which they focused on Brookline.
With the help of local parents, they presented plans for small skate parks, known as dots, to Brookine’s Parks and Recreation Department.
“We’re looking for them to understand the need and realize that there are more kids skateboarding than playing little league nationwide. It’s been the fastest growing activity over the past 20 years,” Bachman said.
The Brookline Parks and Recreation Department has already approved a skate dot, a small skate park, be included in the renovations of Waldstein Park. It’s toward the bottom of the priority list, but Bachman is already working on ways to raise money so it doesn’t get left behind.
And then, there’s that second store.
Although there won’t be a half-pipe in their Newbury location (they need more room for merchandise) Armin said the Newbury store will be a continuation of the Orchard vibe. Even the process of renovating the store has been largely community based. The front sign is the work of Best Dressed Signs, and the space itself designed by Boston’s !nd!v!duals Collective. They are creating what Armin calls the “environment of the store.”
“Anyone who comes by is going to come in and be interested in the experience,” he said. “The store itself is going to be an experience.”
And the experience will be as eclectic as the community it will serve.
“A skateboarder is a certain unique person, but it’s not one type of individual. There are different music tastes, personal fashion sense—lack of fashion sense. It takes all types,” Armin said.
“Everything we do is for skateboarding.”
ORCHARD SKATESHOP. 297 NEWBURY ST., BOSTON. 156 HARVARD AVE., ALLSTON. @ORCHARDSHOP. ORCHARDSHOP.COM.