Humboldt County Skates

Humboldt County, California. Weed may have put this county on the map, but its locally grown skate collaborative is pumping new blood into its roots….

Words and photos by @ChrisClicksDigital

There are several towns inside Humboldt County and I recently paid a visit to Eureka where Humboldt Skate Lab is one of the hubs of the skate scene. HSL opened in October of 2016 and is locally owned and operated by Brad and Chad, both born and raised in Humboldt, where they grew up skating. Brad says, immediately after they opened the shop, the local community was down 100% with support and love. HSL is now not only a resource for local skate needs, but is also deeply embedded in the community. HSL is involved in outreach to local homeless, support of local artists and creating skate-related events.

Humboldt Skate Lab

Walking into the Humboldt Skate Lab is like walking into your homie’s house that just happens to be a skaters’ paradise. The store features a full range of skate products, collectible decks, current decks, reissue decks, clothing, magazines and a mini ramp out back. HSL even provides a comfy couch where patrons can sit and watch skate videos for hours while chewing on real beef jerky sticks! It’s the ultimate hometown skate clubhouse.

HSL.

When I asked how business is doing and how local skaters afford skateboards and accessories, this is what I was told.

Both partners in the shop agree that, like most local skate shops, it’s difficult to keep things going, but because they love what they do, and, in large part due to the “support your local skate shop” mentality, they are still grinding out a successful business. HSL proudly boasts great relationships with high-end distributors who show great support for the shop and the skate scene in Eureka. Brad also says, “For those who can’t afford to outright make purchases, we have a box full of parts and used boards where skaters can mix and match in order to get back to skating.” He also pointed out a section on the wall covered with IOU’s and payment plans for kids and parents who have a sort of credit running with the shop.

Skaters and local crew at the Eureka skate park.

Weather is also a factor in the area. During this interview, the wind was howling through the streets, but the sun was shining and locals were wearing shorts and T’s. Brad and Chad both agree that there are several months surrounding winter where conditions are bitter cold and rain is abundant. During these months, business can be slow, but skaters flock to an indoor park about 20 minutes north. The indoor park is not the favorite spot, but when locals are fiending for a skate, that’s where they go. These skaters are committed to good times, a family vibe and, as Chad says, “Not even these crusty streets of Eureka will stop them from skating.” More about the crusty streets later.

When most of us think about Humboldt, the first thing we think of is “that’s where they grow weed”. I had to ask the shop owners if the marijuana industry plays any part in the economy of the town and the shop. I was disappointed to hear a familiar story where, once upon a time, when the weed business was mom-and-pop-operated, things were better and that, since big money and corporations took over, the effect on the town was more along the lines of “wreaking havoc”. I also learned that the money from the farming of crops basically doesn’t trickle down the hill into town and more or less just packs up and leaves when the season is over.

The Humboldt Skate Lab is located next to an array of local businesses and, when I asked the owners of the HSL how receptive the neighbors were to the shop, I was expecting to hear the usual complaints about skaters causing a ruckus or damages to curbs and benches in the area, but this was not the case.

@kaceythaskater

The owners explained that the HSL sponsored team of skaters can often be found handing out food at the local homeless shelter and that the shop also supports local artists and cultivates art shows with local galleries where kids can focus on creative outlets. The vibe I got was that the skate shop was more like a big brother in town looking out for what’s best for the entire family and not just itself.

@wadesworth_

I noticed, when I first got into town, that the streets and sidewalks were definitely rough and the red zone curbs you might expect to be slick for slappies were actually not slick at all. The street scene looked like slim pickings for sure. When I asked about the street skating scene and the conditions of the local terrain, Chad said, “Oh yeah, these are the crusty streets of Eureka.” In fact, the term “crusty” was something I heard many times that day when skaters described a certain area or section of coping not for the weak to attack. The streets are rough, the sidewalks rocky, and the terrain in general generates a sort of gladiator type skater who will power through and charge hard in these warlike conditions.

After spending time at the shop and getting to know more about the skate scene, it was time to go check out what kind of skating was going down in this town. I followed a couple of local kids on about a 5 minute drive from the HSL to the local Eureka Skate Park where I was immediately impressed with the scope of this moderate size park.

@selphrobert

The first thing I noticed was a pretty meaty over vert clam that sported pool coping hanging over an easy inch and a half. There were two separate bowls, one smaller and the other featuring a small flow section that leads down to a half pipe with one end having a rounded bowl corner and the other side being the entrance and exit into the flow. The area also has a huge channel gap that, as Brad explained to me is a “NBD” so, if you want to make some skate history, I suggest you get there and try your luck crossing this channel.

Eureka Skate Park overview.

The park has a street section and the entire park is surrounded by a flow section that creates a never-ending course for creative lines. Overall, this park was really fun and allows for skating of all levels and abilities.

The Humboldt Skate Collective is an organization of all the local communities in the area each representing the needs of the community they represent. They have meetings and help organize where future skate parks will be built and address the needs of the skaters in each town. The Humboldt Skate Collective is working hard to put on a huge skate jam in August of this year. The date is tentatively set for August 25th. HSL is helping sponsor the event and is heavily involved in trying to raise awareness and bring in more companies, sponsors, skaters, and contributors to this first of its kind event. The collective and HSL have already locked down local support for the event from Emerald Queen Farms. If you want to get involved in this event as a sponsor, donor or skater, please contact the HSL via Instagram DM @humboldtskatelab

@kaceythaskater

In closing, I just want to say that I was absolutely stoked on the skate scene and hometown hospitality I was shown by the skaters and especially Brad and Chad who not only organized skaters to show up at the park while I was there, but also threw a BBQ complete with hot dogs, burgers and music! This was by far one of the best days I’ve encountered on the road in search of the skate life.

@kaceythaskater

@selphrobert hip transfer from pool to flow

1 comment

  • Kevin Soares June 1, 2018

    Great article on the skate scene up here.Thanks for such great pics of my son Kacey.He got to visit Juoice when he was about four on our L.A. tour with Scott Lambright and Ricky Stiles.He went everywhere with me,and got an early submersion into the world of pool skating etc.I’m super proud of him and his skating,stole all my tricks.

    Reply

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