Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Frank Daniello's column x Open House: The Green Apple Skateboard Shop

"The way I can describe Green Apple: it was the coolest group of skaters in Winnipeg, in the early ‘90s," Habitat Pro Mike McDermott says over the phone.

The Green Apple legacy began from the mind of Roan Barrion, and led to a series of skate videos showcasing an expanding Winnipeg crew, including the likes of McDermott, in the 1990s. The series featured 5 VHS videos that were presented at small premieres and sold locally.

"There wasn't anybody making consistent Winnipeg videos in the early ‘90s," he explains, "and I think it really brought the scene together as far as having something to focus for and as far as having something for kids around the city to look forward to seeing. Green Apple was and is grassroots. Nobody made any money and nobody thought of any sort of return. Skaters have the mindset of "check me out", and it was all in the name of that."

By 2000, Roan Barrion was ready to pass the Green Apple torch and pursue other projects. He cut his final Green Apple video, Street Magic, which featured Rod Ferens and McDermott. It was filmed entirely by the talented Ryan McGuigan. Soon after, McGuigan took hold of the GA video legacy and, along with McDermott, relocated to Vancouver, eventually releasing Green Apple's Modern Love in 2005 and Supper's Ready (a 2-disc set showcasing nearly all the GA videos) in 2007 featuring a Canada-wide cast.

With this crash-course in Green Apple's history hopefully bringing you up to speed, the following Open House Q&A with Mike McDermott sheds light on the latest chapter: Winnipeg's Green Apple Skateboard Shop.

What made you decide to move Green Apple forward into both a brand and shop?

I was doing my thing and skateboarding's good to me, and to all of us, so really the next step was to take it back to the roots, which are in Winnipeg. You can say Green Apple all across Canada and they know the name at this point, but they don't quite know it as a brand or a product. So we wanted to take it to that step, and have Green Apple become a centre. We wanted to do a shop, and this is where we're at now: The Green Apple Skateboard Shop. I thought of doing this on New Year's eve, on a plane, when it just turned to 2008. I'm always coming back to Winnipeg from wherever I travel, so I just thought, "Enough of this back-and-forth, I'm just going to go to Winnipeg and open up a skate shop in the name of Green Apple." Decision made. I wanted to leave Vancouver in May 2008 and have the shop open in Winnipeg by May 2009.

How did Habitat help The Green Apple Skateboard Shop?

We had to come up on a logo to refresh the Green Apple image and come up with a new look. We spent a lot of time with Joe Castrucci [Habitat's art director], who helped us with that. It was collaboration between me, Ryan, and Joe. I wanted to come up on a logo that wouldn't just appeal to skaters, but to the masses as well. I wanted the logo to be unisex: I wanted girls to think it was cute, and I wanted boys to think it was cool. We also got Habitat/Green Apple collaborative decks made. Everybody calls their shop decks "blanks", but they're not blanks by any means. I didn't want anybody to call our deck a "blank"—I want it to be called a Green Apple board. And if you pick up a Green Apple board, you're picking up a Habitat board. You know the quality's there, and that's what you want. So we got together with Habitat again, and Joe designed a beautiful graphic that showcased their logo and our logo on the board. They look so good on the wall, man.

How did the skate community in Winnipeg rally behind you at the beginning?

I couldn't of asked for a better community to open a skateshop in. People thought I wasn't really living here, but I was. I finally let the cat out of the bag that I was here to stay and that I was opening up a skateshop—people were hyped. I got the space on 836 Corydon Ave, and the place was a f**kin' disaster zone. I'd be cleaning up, and go for a coffee, and there would be 3 skaters from the scene in there helping when I came back. One thing I've learned from this experience is that people respect you more if you ask for help, and when you're doing something you believe in, people smell it. My friends were in here helping; my dad and his friends, and even the landlord. Colin Lambert's mom was helping; Jared Will and Sam Klassen helped us huge. This place was hoppin'. Roan Barrion buys and sells furniture now, and has his own business, Modern Love, and he donated some furniture to the shop—a nice bench for people to try shoes on, and some chairs.

Who's on the team?

Myself, Travis Stenger, Jason Crolly, Colin Lambert, Sam Klassen, Justin Basset, Mike Vince, Aaron Rosenblatt, Jeremy Gelfant, Tyler Gaucher, Chris Rossong, and Nick Serduletz.

You can find out more about the shop via and see more videos on the Green Apple YouTube channel right here.

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