Nick Owen of Escapist Skateboarding filled us in on the KC skate scene, how Thrasher’s latest feature catapulted them into the spotlight, and the ways skaters can grow their own skateboarding communities.
First tell us a little bit about your shop. How did you get started with skateboards?
Our shop Escapist was started in 2000 and is Kansas City’s oldest skateshop. We are 100% skater owned and operated. Myself and my partner Dan Askew worked at other skateshops for most of our lives, and we currently have 2 locations.
Don’t wait for someone to make things happen when it comes to skateboarding in your city/community area. Nobody is going to do it for you…
What’s your personal background as a skater?
I started skating when I was 8 years old and have been involved in skateboarding ever since then, through entering contests, traveling and filming both as a skater and as a shop owner for more than 30 years.
What would you say is your company’s mission right now?
Escapist strives to provide Kansas City skateboarders with the best selection of skateboarding products and to strengthen Kansas City skateboarding and bring national attention to it. Our employees have several years of first hand skateboarding experience, which ensures that our customers receive knowledgeable assistance.
How has your shop navigated covid?
Covid has been pretty crazy, but early on we focused on our webstore to help skaters nationwide get the products they needed. But also there has been a surge of new people both young and old getting into skateboarding, so we have had one of the busiest 18 months in our 21 year history. Uncharted waters for sure, but it has been exciting seeing all the new faces catching the skate bug.
You mentioned there haven’t been many local events lately. What were some of your favorites in the past, or upcoming events you’re looking forward to?
We just recently had our new video “Our World” come out and Thrasher Magazine featured it on their website. We had a local premiere for the video, but the Thrasher release has brought us to a new level. Definitely a bucket list moment for us.
We also do demos/signing from different pro teams throughout the year usually, but covid has put a damper on that more recently. We also do art shows with skateboard artists. We have had shows with Mark Gonzales, Lance Mountain, Ray Barbee, and many more artists/photographers over the years We also host some fundraiser events for different skate groups and charity organizations. Currently nothing is planned with all that is going on with covid, but we hope that will change soon.
What are some of the most exciting products you carry in your shop these days?
We carry a large number of products, but the items of note are definitely Nike SB Dunks which are a hot commodity at any skateshop, and also our own Escapist brand products as well. You can’t get our products anywhere else, so we are always working on new stuff that our customers are always asking for.
Any special guests or fun stories you’d like to share?
We have had Tony Hawk, Ben Harper, Matt Hensley (of Flogging Molly), as well as a bunch of Chiefs players in over the years as customers. Also, we had a private skate session with Lil Wayne at Sean Maltos private skatepark that we helped to facilitate.
Can you leave us with your thoughts on how skaters can get involved in their communities at home?
The best thing I can say is, don’t wait for someone to make things happen when it comes to skateboarding in your city/community area. Nobody is going to do it for you, whether it’s a contest or event or DIY skatepark in the woods. Getting started is the hardest part, but once you get the ball rolling, other people come out of the woodwork to help. Skaters taking ownership in their scene, community and helping to shape things for the future is the most important thing we can do to grow skateboarding, our culture, our parks etc. Do it Yourself is what skaters do best and is why skateboarding is the best thing on the planet.
This interview has been lightly edited.