Greg, when did you first open Tri-State Skate?
794 days ago, or March 14th 2009.
What was your inspiration?
My biggest inspiration was to create something for kids that I didn’t have growing up. I wanted to start a shop where kids could come hang out, meet other bladers, meet (and skate) with some of the best bladers on the planet, learn about skating, and of course a place to check out all the new gear in person before they spend their money.
Explain for us people from closer to The Four Corners or across the globe the significance of the phrase and location of the Tri-State? In other words, what the hell is the Tri-State?
It stands for the Tri-State area (NY, NJ, CT). And state rhymes with skate, so boom, Tri-State Skate!
Who are the most active skaters in your area in your opinion?
Well, my biased answer would have to be the shop riders: Franco Cammayo, Sean Agoliati, Dan Fabiano, Tim Franken, Bobby Reichel, Ryan Many, and Crazy Pat (Bernat). Theses dudes are incredible. Anytime I need clips for an edit, photos, or ANYTHING else they always come through 200%. Not only are these dudes constantly skating, but when they are out skating they are busy having fun (#1), talking to kids, promoting the shop and their sponsors, and just straight up making blading look amazing to outside eyes. Besides those guys, James Perez is one of the first names to pop in my head. Kid’s amazing, plain and simple. Damn, thinking about it there are just so many talented kids out here it would take a long time to list them all!
Kevin Dowling, Montre Livingston, Greg Kieffer, Franco Cammayo, Fish after a session at Drop-In. Photo by Sam DeAngelis
From the early start of your shop, dreaming about the experience, to actually having a shop and being involved with the business of blading, what have you learned? How did your expectations compare to the reality?
The biggest thing I learned was knowing a lot about blading does NOT mean you know about running a blade shop. I learned everything the hard way. I’ve made tons of mistakes(and still do), but am glad I made them because I always learn something from every mistake. I want to say it’s a miracle I was able to keep the shop alive through some real low points, but in reality it’s all from the help I received from so many company owners, loyal customers, and good friends that helped me keep it alive and get it to the point it’s at now. To be honest, I didn’t think the shop would last long at all. I knew going into it that financially it was going to be very difficult to not only keep the shop open, but to make it profitable. After having a few visiting pros skate the park downstairs, I noticed that all the young skateboarders couldn’t stop watching these guys kill the park. Seeing these kids watching in amazement while guys like Aragon, Montre, Fish, Franco, etc., skated the park made me realize that all of those kids were potential bladers. Since then it’s been my mission to get as many kids on skates as I possibly can.
Brian Aragon Mute Grab at the 1 year anniversary session. Photo by Sam DeAngelis
What’s your relationship like with your host location, Drop-In skatepark?
I have a great relationship with Darrell, the owner of the park. He’s helped me out in so many ways, and I am extremely thankful for everything he’s done for me.
Could you imagine running a shop that wasn’t attached to or inside a skatepark?
NO WAY! Being inside a park is amazing, I get to skate everyday. It also gives me direct access to potential bladers. Kids wander upstairs and into the shop, see a skate video on the TV, then a few days later they are back with mom and dad to buy blades! Being inside a park makes me realize how much harder it must have been for shops like Neglected Truth and Intuition to become as successful as they are without having that constant flow of skaters that exists at skate parks, making me respect them that much more.
Montre Livingston 540 while filming for the Olympus PEN “Your Story” challenge. Photo by Sam DeAngelis
If I’m in Manhattan, near downtown, how long does it take to get to your shop, and how would one go about getting there (assuming it’s an outsider who doesn’t know shit about the city)?
Take a NJ Transit train to the Suffern, NY, stop and skate about 5 minutes down the street and you’re here! Or call the shop and I’ll pick you up at the train station (I swear I’ve done this on many occasions!). From Penn Station I believe the train ride is about 50 minutes, but I’m not 100% sure. If you’re lucky enough to have a car and you’re downtown, just drive north to the George Washington Bridge and it’s about a 20-minute drive from the bridge (with no traffic). GWB>Palisaides Parkway North>NY Thruway North>Exit 15A and we’re about 100 yards down the street.
Montre signing autographs after a session at Drop-In. Photo by Sam DeAngelis
What’s your background? When did you get into blading?
I’m a white boy born and raised in the quiet suburbs of NJ right across the river from NYC. I put on my first pair of rollerblades in kindergarden when my friend forgot his at my house. I got my first pair of aggressive skates somewhere around 1996.
Shop rider and ConArtist/Scribe owner Dan Fabiano.
Did you have a local shop that you frequented while coming up? What was it?
Well, although NJ had Spoilled Bratt (Tee!), it was too far away from where I lived for me to even consider it local. So no, I didn’t have a local shop growing up.
John Bolino signing autographs at the shop while on tour filming for “Charg!ng.”
Define a “good day” at the shop?
A good day at TSS would have to consist of some blading downstairs, and selling at least ONE thing! A great day is any day where a skateboarder comes in to buy his first pair of blades, and ends up forgetting his board in the shop. I really wish I kept all the forgotten boards as mementos.
Thumbs up Julia. Photo by Sam DeAngelis
How does Tri-State fit in with the NYC scene?
TSS fits in with the NYC scene in any and every way it possibly can. Whether it’s hosting events, or sponsoring local comps, I do everything I possibly can to have the shop be involved with the local scene as much as possible. I feel that every scene needs a local shop as its backbone to help the scene thrive. I’ve always focused a lot on giving back to our local scene. Without all our loyal customers we wouldn’t exist, so I give as much back to our scene as possible.
Greg Kieffer at 2011 BCSD. Photo by Shardy Nieves
What’s your goal for 2011?
My goal for 2011 is to continue doing everything the same as in 2010, but only bigger and better. If I had to pick one goal to strive for in 2011 it would hands down be to get as many kids on rollerblades as possible. There’s nothing better than selling someone their first pair of skates, and as time goes on seeing the amount of joy and excitement they get out of it, just like I did, and still do. Expect to see nothing but constant growth from TSS because we are here to stay!
Greg finally getting some much deserved props!
James Perez for flow!
Greg, you’re a true inspiration for the future of blading!
Good write up and dope ideas.
Come to monday night skate!
dude is the dude, support tri state skate!
Hey ..this is Susan Kieffer, Gregs Mom. Great article and very proud. Support TSS. I guess you forgot to mention us! Only kidding.