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Skate Shop to Open in Downtown State College

Growing up in State College, skateboarder Jake Johnson remembers wanting to have a space for local skaters to connect. Now Johnson is teaming with Clint Kunselman to open IQ Skate Shop at 118 S. Pugh St.

On a hot July day, Johnson was working with some young skaters, getting the shop that was formerly Sadie’s Gourmet Waffles & Smokey Joe’s Sandwiches ready to open. Johnson left the area after high school and established himself as a professional skater. After moving back four years ago, he said opening a skate shop in town was a dream.

The new shop comes as State College Borough is planning to build a long-discussed action sports park at High Point Park.

“Now with the skate park being built, and with a lot of spaces being available because of everything that went on … we decided to just jump on it,” Johnson said.

While Johnson said he has hung out in a lot of skate shops, he has never operated one before, so teaming up with Kunselman was a natural fit. Kunselman was a previous owner of a skate shop in DuBois.

Johnson said with him being on the road 75 percent of the time following his skateboarding career, Kunselman will remain at the store in State College, holding down the day-to-day operations.

They hope to be ready for a soft opening in early August and plan to hold a grand opening when students are back in September.

Johnson said he sees the store as a way to help develop the skate community in the State College area.

“Really, we are just trying to help the local scene. Have a place for the kids to basically hide out and hang out and have some community,” Johnson said.

He said the sport is seeing an upswing in popularity after the pandemic.

“There is a whole new generation of skaters right now,” Johnson said. “A lot of people who skated as kids started again in their mid-20s and 30s and during COVID, they got new boards.

“A lot of kids started. They say like 2 million people started skating this year and 4 million are expected to start again this year.”

The shop will sell hard goods, such as boards, trucks and wheels, along with accessories and clothing. The pair plans to have a small design studio in the back for editing videos.

“If skaters want to come in here and pursue whatever they want to pursue, we sort of want to facilitate that, whether it is creative or whatever,” Johnson said.

“I have traveled all over for skating and skate shops sort of tie you in. So, if you are out there, and you know that there is a shop, you are going to meet locals.”

The shop can be a community for new and experienced skaters, he said.

“They are going to show you around,” Johnson said. “I grew up in State College and I didn’t know what it was like to have a shop like that. So, what I want to do is bring that experience to town, so if kids are growing up here, I want them to know that there are skate shops all over … there is a community all over.

“I want to sort of bring in that kind of culture.”

With skateboarding making its Olympic debut this year, he hopes awareness of the sport grows. He thinks the community made at the shop will serve as local advocates for the sport that he loves.

He understands that sometimes people see skateboarders as a nuisance, but he hopes that as the sport becomes more mainstream and visible, some of those opinions change.

“We will try to be advocates for it and try to get involved with the park that is being built. Try to make friends with all the neighbors and make sure that as the skate community grows and gets tighter, that it also grows in respect,” Johnson said.

He added, “We want people to understand that skating is an art form and it is also a sport.”

This story appears in the July 8-14 edition of The Centre County Gazette.