New skate shop fills void for skateboarders

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MANCHESTER — A new skateboard shop has opened in Manchester to feed the needs of skaters new and old.

Arson, a skate shop offering boards, apparel and lifestyle gear opened at 345 Center Hill Road in Manchester in August, at the same time, the town's new skatepark opened.

Owner Bill Strecker said the shop has been a big hit, and as word spreads, he expects it to only get bigger.

The shop fills a need that hadn't been met in the area and sells not only gear but skater lifestyle items like clothing, eyewear and soon, shoes.

"We're getting into footwear in the next couple of weeks," Strecker said. "I think that's going to be huge. That's a big part of the culture."

Strecker said the skater image has permeated into the general culture, which is no more evident than in footwear. One of the hottest shoe brands among young people is Vans, which is a classic skateboarding shoe.

"You know, when I was younger, there were a dozen of us wearing Vans in school," Strecker said. "Now, half the school wears Vans. That's just the culture. It's seeped into the mass culture."

Because of the popularity of skater culture, Strecker is busy filling his store with winter clothing and is building his own Arson brand.

"We have 22 different Arson items right now," Strecker said. "So we've got a strong start on getting our own apparel line going."

Heading into winter, Strecker is considering adding snow skates to the inventory. Snow skates are like a skateboard deck with a tether attached.

Unlike a snowboard, a snow skate doesn't have bindings that attach the board to the rider.

And one item that has been a huge hit, and might be on a few lists to Santa heading into the holidays, are small "fingerboards," which are toy skateboards you play with using only your fingers.

At a few inches in length, the boards have miniature trucks and wheels that can be changed out just like a real skateboard. Bought as a unit, the fingerboards run about $25, or you can customize one for about $35.

Miniature skate parks with ramps, rails and features can be built.

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Will they be a hot item for the holidays?

"One-thousand percent," Strecker said. "No joke, these things will be stocked from now on. I ran out for like two or three days, and people were up in arms. They were calling, 'Are they in yet?'"

Strecker said the first month-plus has been great.

"So, you know, everything I'm doing is working, I just need more of it," Strecker said.

The small location might mean opening up the upstairs of the building, especially when shoes come in.

The shop is offering skate clinics to help those just taking up skating to learn the basics up through advanced skills.

"We've sold so many skateboards we want to make sure people know how to use them and they know a little bit about the park etiquette and some basic knowledge about skateboarding," Strecker said. "We got some great guys helping out and even a girl."

But Strecker said even if people are in the market for gear or clothing, he welcomes skaters to just come to hang out and watch videos or be part of the scene.

He wants Arson to become a home for skaters in the area, saying he remembers being young and having a place to belong and now he wants to provide that for local kids.

Strecker has said that skateboarding can attract kids who might not fit in with team sports or other social activities and provides an outlet to belong to something. It also gets kids outside and off their devices.

Strecker is a Vermont native who has been skateboarding for more than 30 years. He has served on the Manchester Skatepark Committee for seven years. He is married to Rachel Strecker, an attorney at BarrSternberg who also serves on the Taconic & Green Regional School Board.

Arson will be open 10 to 7 p.m. six days a week, closed on Wednesdays.

Find them on the web at www.arsonshop.com and follow them on Instagram at arson_shop.

Contact Darren Marcy at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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