Boston skate war?

Drama Dept.
By LIZA WEISSTUCH  |  October 20, 2010

CALLING CARD? Vandals left this note touting a rival skate shop.

The Board Room Boston skateboard shop has been open for only a few months, but, according to co-owner Sean Thimas, it's already been vandalized three times. In the most recent incident, on Monday, October 11, Thimas arrived at the Financial District shop to find his glass door and sidewalk splattered with eggs.

This time, Thimas says, the vandals left a calling card: a note on a scrap of paper that read "Board Room is faggy," and "Orchard all day!!!," the latter evidently referring to the well-known Orchard skate shop, which moved from Mission Hill to Allston at the end of May.

Had Boston become the battleground for a skate-shop war? The owners of Board Room were suspicious.

"Skating is hard enough in this town," said Joamil Rodriguez, Board Room's co-owner, who also owns Laced, a skate-and-snowboard shop on Columbus Avenue. "I didn't open to create a mine-against-theirs thing. We try to be respectful, and it's generally been good, but we've had resistance from the owners before."

He had heard rumors that the owner of Orchard was talking trash about Board Room skateboards, saying they were made of cheap wood. He thought that maybe Orchard was inciting their teenage clientele to deface his property.

Not the case, said Orchard co-owner Armin Bachman. In a phone interview, he said it was the first he'd heard of the vandalism, and called it "disappointing." "That's not our style by any means," he said, pausing to tell co-owner Broderick Gumpright the news. Bachman returned to the phone, saying, "I wish you could see the look on Broderick's face right now. We know that as a new shop they have a huge upwards battle."

But the world of skate shops has long been plagued by infighting, Bachman said, recalling "shop beef back in the early 2000s" between retailers he declined to identify. It got so bad back then, he said, that he left the city. "It took a lot of purity out of skating. That's not what it's about to me."

He said he didn't want to see that kind of drama start up again. If his customers had decided that they needed to vandalize his competition, he wanted no part of it.

Following the Phoenix phone call, Bachman and Gumpright visited Board Room. They invited Rodriguez out for a beer. He declined, saying he was too busy. But they stayed to talk anyway.

"It was a peaceful outcome," Rodriguez said last Thursday. "We talked and agreed that the kids might be using our names in a way that we're not condoning. . . . He definitely didn't send any kids out to do this."

Rodriguez still suspects that Bachman might have had an unkind word to say about Board Room's wares. But, he said, "I think we're going to be good. I told him maybe we can work together on something and show the kids that there is no beef between us — maybe host a skateboarding event of some sort. Nothing too major, but something that shows people skating is unified."

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  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Skateboarding, Vandalism, Allston,  More more >
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