Open since 1994, Southside Skatepark is the oldest skatepark in Houston. Southside is able to bring a sense of close knit community to a culture spread across a large city with its South Houston park and Sugar Land shop.
I met with Southside’s owner, Eric “Big O” Visentin, at the Sugar Land shop location, where he told me the history of the park along with a brief explanation of the skate culture and their Go Skateboarding Day plans.
The skatepark originally opened in 1994, but after a few years of an immense following, it had to move to a bigger location. Since then it’s been located at 510 South Iowa Street, in South Houston. Big O came into ownership in 2007 and has since opened up the satellite shop in Sugar Land. Although it’s not run of the mill, like most “mom and pop” shops it is able to cater to its client base in ways that big retailers can’t. With access to limited release products and tied directly to the action of the sport through its skatepark, Southside is thriving in this ever growing industry.
Not unlike most sports and hobbies, skateboarding has developed its own set of trends, encompassing everything from artistic decks to fashionable shoes. The same day I interviewed Big O, the shop released the Nike SB Janoski “Wino” wine-stained shoes; a limited release, which led to a line wrapping around the store, with hopeful patrons in lawn chairs. By the time I arrived at the store to do the interview, they had only one pair left! I got to check them out and they definitely live up to the hype.
With the shoes being so popular, the shop actually brings other niche cultures together. The skate shoe’s appeal seems to be universally enjoyed by skateboarders, shoe aficionados, dancers and everyone between. I even bought a pair of shoes while visiting the shop (the birch and clear jade Janoski, in the smallest men’s size available). There is actually a movement going on with people buying the top tier, limited release shoes and then customizing them with paintings or sketches. Some even sell the customizations on the internet.
This June 21st is Go Skateboarding Day! Here in Houston, Southside Skatepark will also be celebrating their 18th anniversary, with a giant party at the park. There will be free BBQ, contests with cash prizes and super sales at both store locations. So, if you’re in Houston, head to Southside Skatepark and celebrate!