The Yard


The Yard: Buffalo, NY

An Interview with David Eoannou of DADS


"Here's a dime, I donated to your project too" officer Jones

First off a little background on yourself, name, where you are from, how did DADS start, who is involved in it?

I'm David Eoannou. I'm 27 years old. I'm from Buffalo, NY. DADS is basically the culmination of the day after day shit my friends and I have gone through for the past decade.  It's the collection of all of our inside jokes, sayings, graphics and effort.  It's always been DADS.  It started off as a substitute for a beer, "Get me a dads" "I need a father in my life" and became a representation of who we are and what we do. We made a first run of shirts for our friends and when Jake started getting asked about them we decided to expand.  There's a lot more to DADS than just t-shirts and board graphics.  It's grounded in skating because skating has always been a part of our lives.  Justin Brock, Dan Plunkett, and Jake Donnelly have all been friends since before they were pro. A huge inspiration early on was Jeremy Fish's silly pink bunnies - which I found out from a friend in the know.  I liked the insider aspect of it. It's kind of like being a skateboarder - if you're in you're in it. It's not about being exclusive but rather about making something that was ours, like how skateboarding is to a skateboarder. If you don't get it you just don't get it.

How did you get involved in The Build Project? Was it through a skate shop? Does your spot have a name? My friend Marcus gave me a heads up on the project, I knew I was going to do it regardless of any local skate shop involvement. We call it the yard because there's no shade and the one side has a barbed wire fence- basically it's a cement field. Are you the main person heading up the build or are there others involved? It’s definitely been a group effort but I guess I'm spearheading the project. I have a pickup truck so it makes it easier. I started out just scouting locations and trying to get as much material as I could and then it took off from there. I ended up finding the spot while looking at another property. Once I found the perfect area I was motivated to get started on the rest.

Have you built other DIY spots before?

Yeah I've either built or helped to build pretty much every DIY spot in Buffalo.

Have there been DIY spots in your town that you’ve seen come and go? Were you involved in them? What happened to them?

Oh yeah we've seen several spots come and go throughout the years and then come back again - some last a couple years some a couple days. Usually they get scrapped or smashed, and occasionally the city has demoed them if they're on city property.

How soon after you started collecting donations did you start collecting materials & building? We kind of did things backwards - we started scoping spots and trying to get materials before we even got a donation bucket. I looked on Craigslist to get materials and then kind of just drove around the city looking for random scrap we could use. We never actually got a bucket so we just kind of did our own thing with DLX's support. How did you choose a location? Have you had any run-ins with the Cops or City officials, if so what was the outcome? We stumbled on the location by accident and it ended up being perfect - just took a little bit more cleaning on our end. We've had a few run-ins with the cops so far but nothing major. They were more or less impressed by how much work we've put in but obviously still concerned with the liability issues, property rights etc. A friend I met through doing this project actually did some research and basically as far as we can see the spot is pretty much abandoned - no tax ID - no key owner. The CPO was pretty impressed with that. Basically as long as no one calls we're okay to skate there is the direction we've been given.


Craig's lists finds, each brick was purchased for $.50

What sort of things have you done through DADS to help get donations besides just having the fundraising bucket?

We came up with an idea to do a limited edition DADS build project t-shirt. Our friends at a local screen print shop - Positive Approach - ended up printing the shirts for free so all the proceeds could go towards building. We threw a fundraising party at a local concert venue and sold The Build Project Shirts and other DADS shirts with all proceeds going to the project. We ended up raising almost $500 in three hours so that turned out really well. Then we put the Build Project shirt online and sold shirts that way as well to raise some additional cash.

Has there been anything really surprising you’ve seen or learned through being involved with The Build Project?

I think the biggest surprise has just been people coming out of the woodwork to help - people have either gotten my cell number or messaged me on Instagram excited to be involved. News travels fast in Buffalo too, so people are already skating the spot - or they know about it. I even had one guy from out of the area message me offering me his welding skills when he gets back to Buffalo. Of course the DLX guys have been great giving us shout outs and promoting the project, which has been a huge help. The reality is we would've done this project anyways - found a good spot, built on it, skated it until it got torn down- but having the support was really helpful.


Nakel Smith wearing the build project shirt on stage at an earl sweat show
For the most part skaters everywhere have been really stoked to be involved with The Build Project and jumped in heavily, do you think it says anything about skate board communities or skaters in general? I think Buffalo is unique from the West Coast obviously because we only get a few months a year to skate so I think we're definitely motivated by any means necessary to make it happen while we can. I think skateboarders are so willing to support it because it benefits everyone - it's the common goal. We all want to skate and this is the means to do that.

If everything goes as planned with your spot, what would the dream scenario for it be?

Just to keep building- have people respect it. No graffiti, no trash, no fucking with the neighbors. Just have it be a place where people can go skate and hopefully build off of that what we can. We even talked about following in the footsteps of other cities, Burnside, FDR, where a DIY spot turns into a usable spot for the public. Escapist in Kansas City has done something similar. I think ultimately that would be the ideal situation.


Marcus and Jake scouting potential build sites
Are there any similarities to having your own clothing company and starting a DIY spot? Yeah for sure I think the biggest thing is that the importance is in the process - that's where all the work is. Moving the bricks out of the car - laying down cinder blocks, It's the same with establishing inventory, printing and running DADS. You kind of always have to be a step ahead. Everyone sees the final product but people tend to overlook the process and I think that's really the biggest part. People see a DADS shirt and think it's great but they don't see me awake at 1:00 AM working on a graphic in my garage. Same thing with the project - so many nights just looking for supplies on the street and doing the grunt work. It's just trial and error and just swinging the bat - I'm never the type to say I should've done something - I just do it and if I fuck it up I do it again. Skateboarding definitely had a huge part in that because there's no real end goal there - you try a trick until you get it or you don't get it and then you try another one.

Any advice you can give to other skaters and shops out there that you can give when it comes to building a spot?

Just try - ask questions, look at people that have done it - what you can learn and what you can improve on. The Internet has a ton of information on it. It's all just trial and error.

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