When Blacklist Boardshop owner Joe Hughes took over the business in 2009, he had his eyes set on growth and access for skaters. Establishing a location in the Cincinnati area—although a long time coming—was always part of the vision for the shop’s footprint.
Blacklist calls Lawrenceburg, Indiana home, but the small town setting presented some challenges for the shop’s customer base to consistently browse and engage. Hughes knew Cincinnati was the place to reach that goldmine market.
The skate legacy in southwest Ohio is vital, with brands like Alien Workshop and Habitat Skateboards leaving a traceable imprint. “We always wanted to be a part of that lineage,” says Hughes.
But the Blacklist Boardshop ethos is their reputation of bringing to the table collections of sought after, hip brands and products. Meeting this demand in Cincinnati by abridging the physical distance was a core motive for Blacklist to immerse itself in the local skate scene—and what Hughes sees as a differentiating contribution. “I always felt that me and my team had a really cool knack for finding that next brand in our product curation… That was one of the things I think that really helped us grow during our early years. People would drive to us just because of the brands that we were stocking. Nobody else in the region was really doing that,” Hughes says.
But the path of helping the Cincinnati skate scene access its crucial elements has offshoots other than creating a retail oasis, and one of those is aiding in an initiative to create a Cincinnati skatepark. Despite a strong network of skateparks dotted around the city’s outskirts in areas like Florence, Newport, Beechmont, and Delhi, the presence of an inner-city park is lacking and leaves a bare spot in the scene. “That’s something that we need. A lot of inner-city kids don’t have access to the parks on the bypass,” says Hughes.
Blacklist Boardshop has gotten behind the Cincinnati Skatepark Project by fundraising and spreading the word to their customers to rally the support to new levels and inch the dream closer to reality. “There’s a lot of people that don’t even know—that didn’t know—that a skate park was even on the table,” says Hughes.
Evan Walker, founder of the Cincinnati Skatepark Project, knows firsthand that skate shops are centerpieces to a healthy skate scene—a place people gravitate toward to be outfitted, bond over the culture, and swap ideas.
“They’re really kind of like community hubs, I’d say, like a coffee shop is,” Walker said.
Being that Blacklist is so close to the heart of the city in Walnut Hills, the shop has been key in spreading the word about the Cincinnati Skatepark Project.
“It’s a place that we’ll stop in and talk about the skate park project, and then when we’re there, we’ll talk to skaters there who give us ideas, give us feedback,” Walker said.
Blacklist’s previous Lawrenceburg location used to abut a skatepark, which provided access and solace to skaters with invigorating ease that they hope to recreate in Cincinnati.
“They’ve seen what skateparks can do for communities,” Walker said. “They’ve been all about putting the word out about the skatepark project and volunteering their time and their wisdom on it.”