As soon as you open the glass door of Society Skate Shop in Town and Country you are met by screens displaying skating videos, and rows of skateboard decks, shoes and clothes neatly line the walls.

With the addition of skate shop Society, students at Palo Alto High School now have the opportunity to buy skateboards and skate-related gear just across the street. While the tech-powered culture in Palo Alto may be seen as a difficult environment to open a skating store, Society sees the environment as an untapped population of skaters that they hope to develop into a community.

“If you go to other areas of the Bay Area, there are already so many shops and it’s already kind of saturated,” says store manager Jake London. “This area seemed like there was a void in there [Palo Alto] and we felt like we could play a role in filling it.”

Society’s plans to fill this void are not limited to just selling boards and gear.  In the future, Society plans to encourage involvement through communal skate jams, contests, skateboard art shows, summer camps and video premiers. If this abundance of opportunities seems a little overwhelming, a good place to start would be the free lunches offered on Wednesdays.

“If you meet someone with a skateboard, you instantly have a connection, ” says manager Jake London.

“If you meet someone with a skateboard, you instantly have a connection.”

— Jake London, manager

“We definitely want to be more involved then just keeping our doors open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.,” London says. “I would just say, come to the events, stop by the shop, say what’s up and just hang out.”

Through these activities, Society aims to create a close-knit family of skaters joined together by their love for the sport. For London, this communal aspect of skating, is especially important in the age of smartphones and video games, when time outdoors has dwindled.

Manager Jake London poses in front of a wall of skateboard decks. Photo by Thomas Chapman

“Skateboarding offers something positive where kids can get out, be with their friends, get a sense of camaraderie,” London says. “Skateboarding is very win-win, like when my friend lands a trick, I get excited. I would say we offer something very positive to the youth.”

London believes that this camaraderie allows people to bond with those who share the same passion, no matter their background.

“That’s the cool thing about skating,” London says. “I’ve gone out of the country and if you meet someone with a skateboard, you instantly have a connection. I mean, if you speak a different language, it doesn’t matter. It just bridges all those gaps, which is very unique.”

Understandably, not everyone starts out as a skating pro. Nevertheless, even if you have never skated a day in your life, Society is more than happy to embrace you as a part of the skating family.

“Everybody’s welcome,” London says. “We’re here to get you excited, to get you pumped, and build a community.” This same encouraging attitude is felt as soon as you step through the door.

“Anyone who has any interest in skateboarding, we welcome them with open arms,” London says.”