For most skateboarders your local skate shop is more than just a store… It’s your Home away from Home. We caught up with Dandy and Jerry Harris from 510 Skate Shop to learn more about how opening their doors back in 1998 helped unite the entire East Bay Skate Scene.
Home Is Where The Heart Is. 510 Interview, take two. Okay so really quick, who are you guys, and how did 510 come into existence?
Jerry: Well I’m Jerry Harris.
Dandy: I’m Dandy Harris.
Jerry: And we are the owners and people who started 510 Skateboard Shop! Ha! The shop came into existence after I moved to San Francisco when I was 18. I lived in a house full of skateboarders initially. It was a great time. I met Dandy at a party and she was a CAL student at the time, so I ended up hanging out in the East Bay regularly. At that time the focus of the skateboard scene in the Bay Area was totally San Francisco. It’s all about San Francisco. San Francisco is the hub, San Francisco’s got all the coverage. At the same time there was this really cool scene in the East Bay that just had no representation.
Dandy: It just wasn’t cohesive over here.
So the goal was to unify the East Bay skate scene or did it just happen over time?
Jerry: Yeah. We wanted to have a skate shop over here that was representative of the entire East Bay community and create a hub; be that place, club house, whatever you want to call it, for skateboard kids, skateboard humans, outside of San Francisco. Low expectations initially and a tiny space. We really just wanted to do something over here that could be cool for the community,
Dandy: We needed some friends. So we were like, let’s open a skate shop.
There is a sign in the shop that says ‘30 Minute Lurk Limit’. Who is the biggest violator of all time?
Jerry: Sean Stockton wrote that in probably 2000 and it’s been basically unaltered. It’s just a dusty piece of cardboard he wrote on. He probably hung out here for six hours that day… It’s just like an age group thing, it seems like. Junior high, high school kids come in when they get out of school, they hang out on the weekends. Big violators.
Dandy: Sometimes they hang out here instead of going to school. They used to have to hear a lecture from me.
Jerry: In the past Dandy would incentivize kids to get good report cards. Bring in a good report card and you might get something cool, a skateboard or something.
Dandy: I don’t know about that.
Saylor: You definitely still lecture kids.
Dandy: I definitely still lecture kids. I try to give life lessons. I try to be a mentor.
Jerry: But yeah, Augie’s the biggest violator… In every way.
Dandy: Keep coming back, Augie!
510’s Shop Team has been heavily stacked over the years and some well known skateboards have gotten their start riding for the shop. It seems like you’ve always wanted to help the younger up-and-comers get their foot in the door.
Jerry: Yeah. I didn’t really know that was an opportunity before we started. As a skateboard shop we can’t always do bigger things that skate brands do. We don’t do tours, and you know, give them tons of product or whatever.
Dandy: Or pay them.
Jerry: Or pay them. Or anything like that. But realizing that we could help them get their foot in the door with bigger brands as we started to develop relationship in the industry, it was a cool opportunity for us, cool opportunity for them, and now as time’s gone on, I think of it as a responsibility of ours: to help kids progress in the industry if that’s what they want to do.
What’s the process of someone getting onto the shop team? Is it through sending in footage or a long vetting program with the squad?
Jerry: Get Saylor’s answer. Vetting process for getting on the 510 team…
Saylor: The main thing is it’s about the whole person not just the skateboarding. Because there’s a lot of people that are good at skating. Not everybody is a healthy part of the community that’s helping to get everybody on the same page, and a good vibe and everything. If somebody is going to become a team rider, you kind of know it. It makes sense. So when the time comes you’re like, it’s obvious. And they’re always just our homies anyways. So it’s nobody that we don’t know. I think that’s it for that answer.
Jerry: If Saylor likes you, you’re on.
Dandy: Sometimes people get brought in.
Jerry: Barely ever.
The shop has a lot of rad pieces of bay area skate history, what is your favorite thing on the shop walls?
Jerry: The Max Schaaf Dollar Sign Board. It was featured in a REAL Ad. At some point I asked him about it, and he told me we could hang it in the shop, but that we couldn’t keep it. But it’s been here for like eighteen years now. So that’s a long time. A long term lender. But we’ll give it back to him, if he needs it some day. For his next Ad… We’re taking good care of it.
Home Is Where The Heart Is… What does that mean for you and 510?
Dandy: We’ve been doing this shop for half our lives and it’s so much of my identity, and it’s so important to me, just as my community and a place where skateboarders can come and be part of something and feel welcome, and feel like they can just hang out or whatever. Just be a part of something that they care about, and other people understand, and can relate to. And that people can just come from out of town, and if they’re cool, just can come in here and make friends and go skate.
Jerry: Home is where the heart is, for me too… We’ve been doing this for so long, and I feel like I’ve just grown up in here. I can’t imagine it any other way. As I get old, it just keeps me connected with young people. It keeps me in the scene, and I appreciate it for myself in that way. Seeing people come in who are older now, who grew up hanging out with us, we regularly hear from them about how much it meant to them growing up, having a place to hang out and meet friends.
Dandy: And a lot of people who even have moved away from here, but they grew up coming here, they always feel like this is their community. They always can come back and feel like, oh yeah, this is my spot. I feel like we’re this constant. Maybe they’ll move away for like ten years, and they’ll come back in, and they’re just like whoa, you guys. You guys! You’re still here! And then they each get to tell us about their lives, and they’ve had a whole different life. But it’s like, we’re still here. This is just a constant, a hub.
Jerry: Whoa, look at all your gray hair…
Dandy: Selling the product is a means to the end. The end being, the community and supporting skateboarding, and having an awesome scene here.
Jerry: Dandy and I would like to thank our staff for being so committed to the shop especially our manager David Oppelt who does so much to make it what it is every day. Love you guys.
Special thanks to Jerry & Dandy for everything they have and continue to do for the East Bay Skateboard Community!