Skateboarding, for me, has forever been an object of fascination. Always peering from the outside-in, I’d see best friends, cousins, and cousins’ friends with the bigger-and-better gaming consoles pour over a culture and a scene that they themselves never even belonged to.
Skate culture has managed decade after decade to catch the gaze of those standing nearby with an intoxicating grip on what it was and is to be rebellious, cool, nonchalant, and stylish in an effortless athletic fashion. As a result, the culture has brought industry after industry in tow - in gaming, music, and presently fashion to its doorstep - all vying for that powerful image.
Unlike a handful of its iconic niche counter-parts - like grunge or gangsta rap - skate has survived the iterations, popular appropriations, and regional infighting that commonly plague subgenres long enough to burgeon generational differences in style, aesthetic, and even core priorities. Evidence of skate entering into a new era includes the rise of women skaters, skating to be featured in the upcoming Olympic games, and a resurgence of films (like MID90s and Skate Kitchen) closing in on what skateboarding has meant and what it means now.
It’s this reason that the 25th Anniversary of Krudco Skate Shop on 371 Park Ave in Rochester, New York is such a huge deal. Not only has a sanctuary for the culture been alive for so long in the city, but this shop has become our local planet for which that culture orbits. Aaron Costa, owner, and I sat for a while to discuss the impact of Krudco, small businesses on the local scene, and the skate culture at large. “Skateboarding was special in the 90s and the early 2000s and mid-2000s. Where now, it’s not special. You don’t have to hunt for it - you can just go to the mall and get it” said Aaron, sounding off on the changed landscape of skate. “Ehh, that’s weird to me. Like it’s not as cool as it was because of that”. To understand skate culture in Rochester, or even to grasp Krudco and what they do, is in part, to understand the function of local business in today’s marketplace. Aaron is very right; many products - especially those that originate in a niche culture like skate - have to contend with a broad and unvaried competition by big-box retailers that may exist in the mall, and most recently, online.