When Mike Thompson was in Grade 2, all he wanted was a bicycle. But instead, his dad found a skateboard at a yard sale and gave him that. After the initial disappointment subsided, Mike rode his skateboard to school everyday, and soon enough he was loving it!
Mike has been skating ever since, and despite a few later-in-life injuries, he opened his own skate shop on West Street, just off of Agricola, in March of this year.
“I just love skateboarding,” Mike says, “that’s why I do this. To me it’s bridging gaps in society, it’s bringing together different types of people.”
But it isn’t just the sport itself that draws a diverse crowd to his shop. Mike’s knowledgeable customer service and friendly disposition makes for a pleasant and informative experience. He’s also been known to do repairs and offer lessons for free.
“When a kid comes in, I always make sure he leaves skating,” he says.
Along with a weekly deck draw, Mike collect old boards for kids who can't afford the cost, and will always fix them up at no charge because he believes in the positive influence of the community at large.
“This is not my shop, it’s the community shop,” he says, “I’m trying to make it easier for people to get involved.”
One of the ways he’s engaging the broader community is sharing the space that he fixed up himself. Octopus Skateboards, wallpapered with colourful skateboard decks, is located at the top of the stairs above Crossfit Kinetics, and will soon also be home to Coffin Skate Co., a new enterprise dedicated primarily to serving the roller derby leagues.
“Mike is a fantastic and well informed business owner working to create a low-stress shop all about his passion,” founder of Coffin Sake Co, Stephanie Coffin says about their shared space. “I’m super excited to be able to jump on board and combine forces with my passion for roller skating.”
Coffin Sake Co. will occupy the new roller derby room in August, bringing in more diverse traffic to the area. An area that Mike says he values most for the community vibe and reasonable rent.
“It allows Octopus Skateboards to offer increased quality at better prices from the money we save,” Mike explains, “I absolutely refuse to sell cheap products, so that means a lot to me.”
Quality skateboarding and skateboards have evolved drastically over time; today boards are the most scientifically engineered they’ve ever been, and will soon become an official olympic sport.
Mike knows a lot about the history and future of skateboarding if you stop by for a visit, he’ll even show you a few tricks if you want to learn.