In every thriving skate scene, you’ll find a skateshop at the center of it. Theory has been around for not one, but two full decades of keeping skateboarding moving in Western Massachusetts. Our Deluxe East Coast road warrior Colin Kennery sat down with the guys behind the shop.
Colin Kennery – Let’s get this started! Who are you and when did you get into skating?
Dan Dziuban – I’m torn on the year, 87?
Frank Langone – Well we were born in ’74… So around eleven.
Dan – Oh my god, you’re right, because that birthday cake I had…
Frank – Greg had a Nash in ’86… What was your first board?
Dan – I don’t know maybe it was ’87, cuz there were so many different Gators….
Ten minutes later…
Frank – We started in ’86…. Are you still listening?
Dan – So ’86. Damn, 31 Years. You got that?
Colin – Yea finally got that. How did the idea to open Theory come about? And where did the name come from?
Frank – Well I moved back here from California and at the time Dan was in school finishing his degree. I had been looking at skate shops, so I hit him up and asked him what he thought. We pooled our money together in ‘97/’98 and Started Theory.
Dan – The name “Theory” came from a word I saw every day in criminal theory class. At the time my roommate Adam Noonan was a graphic designer and he quickly made up a logo for us. It all happened in like 5 minutes. He did it that day.
Colin – Theory is turning 20 years old. That’s fucking rad and puts you in a small group of skateshops worldwide. What do you think has been the secret to your longevity?
Dan – Well, we’re super proud of that. The secret is being able to adapt to the constant changes in skateboarding and staying consistently involved in the skate community by doing demos, contests, camps and events. We opened July 17, 1998- that very first winter, the skate community raised money to build a public park, which we built for free in a dude’s garage.
Frank – Kinda crazy we did that. We assembled it in the spring.
Dan – Looking back it was one of our greatest achievements,
Frank- We were each running the shop, but also worked part time jobs for two years.
Dan – We went on to build four parks after that, which is huge. These parks helped to host the demos, contsest camps and events.
Frank – When we opened up Junction, our indoor skatepark- that allowed us and our team guys to be able to skate year round which is huge on the east coast. The first five years of junction camps were crazy, we had Gary Smith and Toebee Parkhurst helping.
Colin – The shop has put out 7 shop videos over the years and anyone who has ever worked on a skate video knows that’s a huge feat. How did you pull that off time after time?
Dan – Well our first video we ever made, we sold 1,600 copies. We had the premiere at a Play house in Springfield, Massachusetts- which was kind of a big deal. I mean we were one of the first in the area at the time to do that.
Frank – Yeah, we sold out the theatre. There were 530 people there, we had people sitting on the stairs.
Dan – That was in 2000. Rob Pontes was there. Pre fuckin cell phones, everything,
Colin – The Theory shop team has been stacked for as long as I can remember, what’s the process to getting on the team?
Dan – Well that’s how you get on the team, you work on the video and put out a part. We give you a Team shirt right there at the premiere.
Colin – Gary Smith is on your shop team, right? So when he started VU Skateshop in Baltimore and added people to the team, is it like they ride for your shop too?
Dan – Ki Realer rides for VU and always wears our stuff…so maybe! Haha! Gary always has footage in our videos to this day.
Colin – Any good shop stories? Good/bad/funny/demo memories.
Dan – I got a good demo one. We had Toy Machine come by for a demo in the early 2000s. They ended up storing the back seat of their rental van in our basement.
Frank – Templeton got hurt and had to fly home… So he tried calling us a bunch at like midnight…
Dan – Pre cell phones obviously…We showed up at the shop together the next day and the bulkhead to our building was ripped off and the seat was gone.
Frank – But then Templeton sent us a letter apologizing for what they did and offered us a free demo. At the time we were paying like $700 bucks for people to come by. I think it was the next year, they came back. I still have the letter, I gotta find it.
Colin – You’ve been the backbone of the Roll for Rob events over the last 3 years and have done a lot to help Rob and his family. Can you give us the backstory for the people who don’t know about the events and who Rob is?
Dan – Rob Pontes is the Northeast Sales Rep for Deluxe, Brixton, Sole Tech and a few other skate brands. He’s been servicing the shop since about 1999. We started skating together after he would show whatever line it was and became friends. In 2014 Rob started to have trouble with his leg, it just wasn’t working right. He stopped skating and started getting tests done. Over the next year things worsened and he was diagnosed with ALS.
I wanted to do something to help with his rising medical costs so I pitched Rob the idea of holding events to raise funds and a year later he gave the green light. Since then, Justin Villano and I started a GoFundMe page and have held three events with the help of Jim Thiebaud, the Deluxe crew and countless others. The most recent event which was hosted by Civil Skate shop in Providence, RI was the largest to date with over 750 people in attendance. Just about every skate brand and many pro skateboarders have participated in some way with Roll For Rob. There has been a huge showing of support from the entire northeast skate community.
The next event is this summer at the Lynch Skatepark in Boston, MA Hosted by Orchard skate shop. Follow @rollforrob for updates and we hope to see you there!
Colin – Who is your favorite real team rider? Past or present.
Dan & Frank – Buzenitz, we both agreed.
Dan – So many- Huf, Gonz, Schaaf…
Frank – Thiebaud!
Colin – It’s 3pm and the shop has been so busy you haven’t had lunch yet – where do you go? What’s the go to spot?
Dan – Bueno Y Sano, that’s my spot. What you got Frank?
Frank – I’m gonna say Max Burger. That’s kind of a random question.
Colin – That about wraps it up, thanks guys and here’s to 20 more years!
The Theory ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ decks will be available at the shop on Saturday, April 29th.