For those of you who are old enough to have experienced The Lords of Dogtown when it first came out, the newest addition to Morristown’s map will bring back waves of nostalgia for the movie’s classic Heath Ledger performance and its early 2000s mystique. As of this month, Morristown officially has its own skate shop. If you haven’t seen The Lords of Dogtown, watch it. The experience will only heighten your anticipation of this entirely new emergence in town.
Cultivate Skate Shop, located at 120 Speedwell Ave, was founded by Dimitri Darche and Daniel Arias with the intention of creating a cornerstone for the skateboard community in town. With the closest skate shop 30-45 minutes away, bringing a skate shop to Morristown gives both Darche and Arias the opportunity to offer their first hand experience to the next generation of the skating community. They are excited about serving as a resource for both those who are already learning and those who are just joining the sport, and they want the shop to be a place for all to gather and create community for those who already skate and for those wanting to start. Their vision for the shop is that it becomes the backbone as the skateboarding community in Morristown and surrounding towns develops and grows.
While the stereotypical idea of skateboarding has often been associated with an underground grunge scene exclusive to younger guys, the image has been gradually changing. There are few sports – or groups or activities of any type – that are as inclusive and welcoming as skateboarding. You don’t need to like a certain genre of music, identify as a specific gender or orientation, or even be a certain age to join the sport and learn. As of 2020, skateboarding is officially an Olympic sport, a fact that has helped the evolution of its image. What used to be seen as a niche hobby and alternative scene is now being taken more seriously. Everyone can belong in the skate community, and this reality inspires Dan and Dimitri and makes them want to create a physical location to harness that energy and share it with the larger skate community.
Their own experiences and knowledge of Morristown motivated them to open a skate shop. Understanding the community’s need and desire for an actual skate location fueled their intention to start the shop. Significant talent from Morristown and neighboring towns has gone pro in recent years. Among those are Tim O’Connor from Morristown, Mike Vallely from Edison, Ishod Wair from Bordentown, Brian O’dwyer from Westfield and Jeff DeChesare from Denville. Last summer Arias led a petition to collect signatures for a skatepark in Morristown. Though he got in touch with leaders in town who would be responsible for moving that initiative forward, it was disappointing that it was rejected on the basis that town leadership did not see a need for it. This lack of progress fueled Daniel and Dimitri’s desire and motivation to open a skate shop. According to them, Morristown is and has always been a skate-friendly city, and opening the shop means moving toward a better opportunity to get a skatepark and establish the larger skate community in the town.
Darche and Arias considered several locations throughout Morristown before approaching Jennifer Wehring, executive director of the Morristown Partnership. Wehring’s suggestion of the 120 Speedwell location fit all of the factors Dan and Dimitri felt were important, leading to signing a one-year lease with options. Cultivate Skate Shop plans to offer lessons and advice, including posting trick tips and product reviews. The founders want to host community skatepark events in the summer, as they are considering renting out certain parks and hosting contests. In addition to services and events, the shop will provide select brands of clothing and the equipment essential to the sport. The average price range for a full set of trucks and bearings will be $150-$170, a brand new deck will average around $60-$70 and $100 for a complete for beginners.
The name for the shop originated from Daniel and Dimitri’s goal of growing the individual and the community in the skate world. The sport is extremely hard, but they know the indescribable feeling when someone who has been practicing for countless hours actually accomplishes what they have been pursuing. They are motivated to help kids and adults get better at skating, and the word cultivate perfectly captures the idea of starting from the ground up and creating a talent that will grow with care and attention. It’s an excruciating sport, but it rewards persistence and the desire to achieve. Daniel and Dimitri want kids to be able to come together and build themselves physically and mentally. They want strong involvement from all groups and life experiences, including making sure the female presence in the sport is well represented. For Daniel and Dimitri, cultivating is about both the collective and individual. They want to build more than just a skate shop: they want to build a resource for the larger community.