GrindTime Skate Shop Rolls into Rockaway

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 A new skate shop has rolled into town. There’s no doubt that surfing is a big activity in Rockaway. But surfboards aren’t the only boards being used in Rockaway. Skateboarding has become an alternative for many to get around town and new skate shop, GrindTime Skate Shop, aims to meet the needs for longtime skateboarders and those who are interested in joining the sport.

GrindTime, located at 90-20 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, is Rockaway’s first skateboard shop. A sister shop to nearby surf shop Station RBNY, GrindTime is owned by longtime skaters Ernie Herrera and Serena Paul. From boards to trucks to wheels, pads and even skate shoes and apparel, the new shop has everything skaters need, saving them a trip off the peninsula. The shop also provides private lessons to those who want to learn how to ride, plus they even offer board repairs. They also hope to have events from skate competitions at Rockaway’s skate parks to having experts come for visits and workshops, although some of those things are still up in the air due to coronavirus restrictions.

Like many businesses, coronavirus threw Herrera and Paul for a loop. They first debuted the business in December 2019, giving people a preview of what they offer over the holiday season. They were then planning to launch in their full space in March, but coronavirus delayed that opening, so they stuck with online sales. Now with retail businesses able to operate with in-store customers, while following coronavirus guidelines, GrindTime opened back up in June and is serving the skate community.

Herrera and Paul both learned to skateboard as kids and quickly fell in love with it. “I love the freedom, the expression, the creativity, the alternative to explore neighborhoods in a different way,” Herrera said. “There wasn’t much to do growing up, so I found skateboarding to be a good option. With everything going on in the world and all of the violence, skateboarding was an alternative to get away and get out of bad neighborhoods. It’s an escape to somewhere more peaceful, and a decent way to commute around Rockaway.”  For Paul, it’s about the connections with a diverse community of skaters that come with the sport. “I love the community that comes together for skating,” Paul said. “It’s all different people from all different cultures and they just love the sport and put their passion into it. There are different styles of skateboarding and it’s for everyone.”  Now they hope to share that love for the sport with the community.

While both worked at surf shop, Station RBNY, Herrera and Paul noticed that an outlet for skaters was lacking in a community with multiple skate parks. “I grew up surfing, but I have more of a passion for skateboarding, and skateboarding has its dedicated place in Rockaway being that there’s three parks, with the third being rebuilt. There’s a bunch of surf shops here but nothing dedicated to skateboarding and we thought maybe it was time to give it a bigger space and outlet,” Herrera said. “It’s something different for the community. People had to go off the peninsula to find stuff they need for skateboarding, so we wanted to bring something to the community so skaters could have a home and so we can grow interest in skating,” Paul added. With customers now coming from Long Island, Brooklyn and mainland Queens, GrindTime has filled a longtime need for those in the local skate community and beyond.

With a dedicated skate shop in town, those at GrindTime hope to expand interest in the sport across the peninsula. “We want to give people a new outlet and something to do. It’s not just tricks on a board. There are many ways to enjoy skateboarding and we want to show people that,” Herrera said. “I’m all for encouraging more girl skaters and trying to link up with other girl groups and getting girls outside. It’s not just a boy’s sport anymore. We’re trying to introduce them to different styles. There’s carving, freeboarding, cruising, dancing on the board, there’s something for everyone,” Paul said. “It’s also a good way to get people back outside. With all this technology, TV and cell phones taking over, we need to ride again and play outside. Nature is here, why not go out and see what it has to offer while exploring on a board?” Paul said.

To help achieve that, GrindTime offers lessons to those interested getting into skateboarding. Currently they offer private lessons but plan to do more in the future when coronavirus restrictions ease, including offering skate camps, or even partnering with Station RBNY to offer skate and surf camps. Through lessons, Herrera and Paul hope to help those interested in skateboarding overcome any fears about the sport. “People have this misconception of how dangerous it is, but it’s like everything else. You can fall, scrape your knees, but it’s all part of the sport,” she said. “Everyone is going to fall, but that’s one fear you have to unlock, knowing that it’s gonna happen,” Herrera said. “That’s why we start with the basics like how to push, how to balance, how to maneuver the board, and just giving people a sense of what they need to do to enjoy it more."

GrindTime comes ahead of the highly-anticipated completion of the Rockaway Beach Skate Park on Beach 91st Street. The revamped park is expected to be complete by the end of the year and GrindTime hopes to partner with NYC Parks for its grand opening. In the meantime, GrindTime is here for all skaters' needs.

GrindTime Skate Shop is open seven days a week, from noon until about 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. They can be reached at 347-752-9599. For updates on new products and more, follow GrindTime on Facebook at GrindTime Skate Shop, on Instagram at Grindtimesk8 or on their website: www.GrindTimeSkate.com

 By Katie McFadden

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