A HISTORY OF CHANGE:
My name is Matt Robinson, and I am a skateboarder.
I started kicking around on toy store boards when I was 8 years old in 1984. I went through a couple of them before my aunt took me to Cheapskates in Memphis, TN in 1986. I was 10 years old and scared to death when I walked in. But as soon as I got through the door I knew that skateboard shops were the coolest places in the world.
I've never been very good at skateboarding, but I've never been able to quit, either. When I was 19 years old I finally figured out how I could do it for a living.
I opened SIDESHOW SKATESHOP in 1996 in Downtown Tupelo with my friend Jon. It was in an abandoned building that we barely got up to code, and we built everything inside by hand—display cases, board rack, even a miniramp in the corner.
With the shop open, the skate scene grew. On the weekends we'd shut down the whole block, set up ramps in the street, and have sessions that were 30-40 deep. Downtown was a ghost town back then, and we were the ghosts. But as the scene grew, the usual run-ins with property owners downtown led to us looking for a place we could skate in peace. A 7,000 SF warehouse on East President came up for rent, and in 1997, SIDESHOW SKATEPARK was born. DIY or Die.
We connected with so many great skateboarders who became lifelong friends during that time. Ben Gilley used to come over and skate with a crew from Columbus before he moved to Birmingham, started riding for our friends at Faith Skate Supply, and eventually turned pro for Black Label and Zero.
Sideshow built a team and we went out on road trip skate missions regularly, hitting every park between here and the Skate Park of Tampa to watch the Tampa Pro Contest for several years in a row. But even with all the shows, contests, and other events we could throw at the park, we couldn't keep it going forever. We ain't here for a long time, we're here for a good time.
In 1998, I reopened the skateshop in a partnership with pro wakeboarder Nathan Strange. We called it THE BOARDS NEST as a play on the name of the bar where the Duke Boys hung out on our favorite childhood TV show.
We were the first DC Shoe Co. retailer in Mississippi and in addition to carrying the other giants of that era we had the privilege of supporting some rad late-90s / early 2000s companies like Supernaut, Adrenalin, and iPath shoes.
Eventually it made sense for Nathan and I to take what we were doing in separate directions. I'm stoked that Nathan's still holding it down inside of Core Cycle and Outdoor to this day.In 2003, I reopened the skateshop under the name TCBSK8SHOP on North Gloster in front of the old Chi House building. We built a little 2' miniramp in the front and hung out with a whole crop of new shop groms. Most notable among them was a young Nate Perkins.
We worked closely with Hank Boerner (RIP) and Tupelo Park and Rec to realize a lifelong dream during this time—Tupelo's first public skateboard park. The pic below (L) is pretty special to me: Chris Hayden (RIP), Dirty D, King Fuzzo, me, and Mike Sulek (RIP) on the day they poured the concrete at the skatepark.I also had the privilege of volunteering at George Washington Carver Middle School as "coach" of the intramural skateboarding team during this time. Read that again: kids got to skateboard. During school. For their PE credit. I'm hoping that TPSD will allow this program to get started again in the coming school year!
In 2007, I reopened the skateshop again—this time in the corner of the Oren Dunn Museum, the building right next door to the Hank and Helen Boerner Skateboard Park—as LIFEBLOOD SKATESHOP. These were some rad days of skateboarding in the late-naughties.
In late 2019, I moved back to Tupelo with my family. In July of 2020, we secured a 3,000 SF space at 5339 Cliff Gookin Blvd, and started building CHANGE.
Change is the only constant in life. The skate scene here has changed in so many ways over the years, but in a lot of ways it's exactly what it's always been.
Skateboarding has always been on the vanguard of the best kind of societal change. Our scene is one of the most racially and culturally diverse groups in all of Tupelo, finding unity, perspective, and strength in the shared love that connects us.
I'm stoked to be serving the Tupelo skateboarding scene once again. The future is bright.
Change is coming.