Sacramento has a rich history of skateboarding culture that, regardless of popularity or demand, has remained a constant in the fabric of Northern California. World renowned skaters such as John Cardiel, Ricky Windsor, and Matt Rodriguez, along with brands like Blockhead Skateboards, Legend, and long time shops such as Surf & Skate, FTC and GoSkate have risen out of NorCal soil. There is nothing better than having a safe and welcoming environment away from home where mutual interests are shared and deep conversations take place without fear of judgment. Places where a business can feel like a second home and whose patrons become surrogate siblings. In a neighborhood both loved and feared, new skate shop Subversions is helping create such an environment for the youth of Oak Park.
Outside the shop the darkened windows make the large painted logo really pop. Inside, the walls are covered with posters and banners of various sorts including skating, music, and parody; while sky blue paint peeks through in seemingly calculated spots. Immediately inside the shop on the left wall is a gigantic vintage poster of a flexing Arnold Schwarzenegger that comes off as both intimidating and hilarious. Skateboard decks are displayed stacked from floor to ceiling on the far wall, while racks of new skate brand clothing take up the shop’s center. The shop caters to all levels. They carry well known brands such as Spitfire, Independent, and Anti Hero, as well as newer brands like Welcome, Blood Wizard, and even local brand Family Man and long time skate club Doom Sayers have merchandise. Along with the normal skate merchandise, the store sells vintage clothing, as well as new and used vinyl, mostly punk and hardcore records, to entice more clientele and set Subversions apart from a traditional skate shop.
The building is small and across from Ace of Fades, between Broadway and 2nd Ave; that admittedly might be hard to find upon first visit. The shop opened on October 18th of 2014 and held an all day skate event was held at McClatchy Skate Park that was partnered with a grand opening of the shop. “We want to be a hub of positive influence to these kids that would otherwise just be walking the streets looking for something to do. We give them something positive to do,” says shop employee, Master Blaster. A skater of 31 years with some extended breaks due to injuries and life, he’s happy to be a part of such a close knit community.
“Oak Park has a stigma to it. Some of it holds true, but a lot of it doesn’t,” says Master Blaster. One of the unfortunate realities of yet the ever-improving neighborhood are low income families. The shop recognizes that with resources already spread thin, hobbies aren’t a luxury to be afforded, “If there’s a kid that wants to have fun and dedicate their time to doing something fun and positive they should not be stymied by a lack of money,” he says. As a brand new business they can relate to funds being tight, but to counteract that the shop has started a donation bin. Anyone can come into the shop and drop off old or unused skateboard parts of any variety and be assured that those donations are going to less fortunate youth looking for a healthy activity. “If I see a kid at the skate park borrowing his buddy’s board and has obvious potential, I will recommend they come into the shop and get hooked up, no charge.” Over the holiday the shop made it possible for anyone to come in and purchase a brand new full skate deck that would be donated to a child at random.
Master Blaster is quick to reiterate that it is a service still under consideration and development, and won’t just give every person that comes into the shop a bunch of free supplies. “If the desire is there, we want to help get board into their hands and get the off the streets and into the skate parks with friends. But it’s also about attitude; if they aren’t appreciative I’m not going to give them to something thinking they deserve it. There has to be a mutual respect.”
Subversions have already reached out and introduced themselves to the surrounding community and had a warm welcome from its residents, business owners and churches who appreciate having a safe place in the neighborhood for kids to hang out in and learn a new passion. In an effort to promote on all levels, Subversions have already begun building a team of riders by sponsoring younger skaters. At skate parks and on the street they will be seen skating on boards and wearing clothes provided by the store. In exchange, the kids receive a brand new shop deck every month for free, as well as future discounts on store merchandise. “Loitering is welcomed! We want to be a place where kids can come on the weekends or after school and chill out or make new friends and go skate. We’re not trying to save the world but I think it would be cool to be a positive role model to kids.”
The current shop hours are Tuesday – Saturday 11am-7pm, and closed Sunday and Monday. The address is 2648 33rd St, Sacramento, CA 95817.
Words Jordan Wolfe
Photos Melissa Uroff and Jordan Wolfe