Skater Pinball Hang Reciprocal Skateboards is Now Closed for Good
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Shitty news from the skateboard front. EV Grieve reports that Reciprocal Skateboards at 402 East 11th Street has shut down shop, after five-going-on-six years of residing in the East Village. The business closed over the weekend.
It’s a fatality move on skaters and pinballers alike. Favorite haunts like this are an endangered species, becoming fewer and farther (read: Brooklyn) between, in a neighborhood going the way of the buffalo. The culprit here is increased competition and sky-high rents.
We will definitely miss stopping by to stuff quarters into the slots of our favorite pinball machines, while trying not to be distracted by some of the coolest looking decks neatly plastered all over the walls.
Owner Jon Eastman broke the news with a bittersweet see-ya-later on Facebook, though he leaves us with hope that a silver lining is in the works. And also the knowledge that Jackbar is still going strong in the outer boroughs.
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Dear Friends, Family and Fans of Reciprocal NYC-
Over the last 5 1/2 yrs, our store has built itself from a little skate shop with a mindset of promoting love, art, competition and mutual respect in the skate community, to a larger one that continues the same beliefs. I know many would agree that we’ve created a business that is built strongly on customer service, know-how and positivity. I’ve personally spent countless hours behind it’s counter, open til close, 7 days a week. I’ve worked on thousands of skateboards and helped guide hundreds of NYC’s kids into being good adults when there wasn’t necessarily someone else to be there for them. We created a beloved brand that was asked for by people from all over the world. We’ve brought in local and independent artists, displayed and promoted their awesome work and helped them get talked about. In many cases these included pieces that you couldn’t get anywhere else, because individuality is a top priority to us. But we always remained primarily a mechanic’s shop, not folding to the pressure to become a clothing store. We keep people skating.
I feel very proud of my role in bringing pinball back to the masses. People ages 1-91 constantly grace our store. We’ve given them a unique place to come experience this amazing piece of culture that was once quickly dying. I always purposely kept the tables super cheap to play, making them more fair and accessible.
I’ve been lucky enough to employ the help of great people who share my passion, work ethic and beliefs of what a business should be. As a result of our work, we have had the luxury of being profiled in countless magazines, newspapers, books, videos and websites. Through it all, we’ve met celebrities, pro-skaters and all-around amazing folks. This business has been my life and passion throughout, and I’m incredibly proud of what it became and how it’s been received. Particularly because I truly believe many of you agree with everything I’ve just said, and love our shop as much as we do. All the countless kind words we’ve received from our customers over the years feel just awesome to hear.
That’s why it comes with great sadness and difficulty that I’m forced to announce that as of this past weekend, Reciprocal has closed its doors for good. We are unfortunately completely out of resources to continue operating any further. And by resources, I mean money. Over the last year or so I’ve scraped and clawed desperately from my own personal finances to get just enough money together, so that we can stay open and keep this beautiful thing alive. And that worked for a year or so. However, regardless of how hard I try, the margins in the skate industry, particularly for a mom and pop skate shop are just not there. The prices of skateboards today are barely more expensive than they were 20 years ago. Even cheaper if you factor in inflation. Yet our costs to purchase these products have gone up consistently. Sure, we can charge more, but we have to compete with CCS, and Zumies down the street who buy in volume and charge next to nothing for cheaply produced decks with clever marketing campaigns. We’re already more expensive than those companies, and the numbers still don’t add up for us. This coupled with our increased rent, made the decision a clear one.
The idea of doing what many other shops have done in the past, selling mainly softwoods with bigger markups, was an option. But as I mentioned, I refuse to turn this labor of love into a clothing store.
We have so many memories and stories to tell, that they simply can’t be summed in one facebook post. If you or a anyone you know was at all part of them, you know who you are and probably remember it as fondly as we do. It was an amazing run!
My experience with this shop was one I will never forget. It taught me so much about myself and helped me grow as a manager, a mentor and a person. I made countless friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life, and there’s no price I can ever put on that.
Now, while all good things come to and end, let me assure you all that this isn’t the end for me and my crew. I’m always looking to do something bigger and better than I’ve done in the past, and this is no exception. I WILL create more things like reciprocal, and share this kind of environment with the public again. I’m picking up the pieces of this now, but will start immediately moving forward once that’s complete.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be combing through the thousands of photographs we have, going back to the beginning days, and I’ll post an album, right here, that covers as many documented moments and events as I can find. So please look out for that.
When I think about it, I can’t believe how blessed and fortunate I’ve been to have had this opportunity in my lifetime. I want to personally thank anyone who’s graced our presence, promoted, supported, taught, learned, entertained, amazed, complimented, made us laugh, or just plain hung out with us over our time. We love you all so much for it, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for letting us work for you.
Remember, everyone… This is not “goodbye,” it’s “see ya later.”
-jon – reciprocal NYC