Kinetic Skateboarding Revitalizes Kings Highway Shop
Shop owners are hoping for a town skateboard venue in Haddonfield.
Want wheels on your feet? Haddonfield’s Kinetic, in the Kings Highway business district, has the place for you.
Even with the energetic enforcement of Haddonfield’s ban on skateboarding in public spots, a trendy shop geared to the sport is pulling in enthusiasts and has owners and customers lobbying for the creation of a skate park in town.
Primarily an activity of boys, who seem to fall in love with wooden boards on wheels when they’re about 8, Kinetic Skateboards offers skateboard and snowboards, clothing, and shoes for both boarding and for casual wear.
The shop at 33 Kings Highway East is the second venture of owners Brannon John and Ben Jones, friends since high school. Ten years ago, almost as soon as they both graduated from college, the pair opened a shop in Wilmington, DE.
The business venture grew out of a need to find a job, said John. “We used our credit cards to get cash and used the cash to secure a bank loan,” he said. Perhaps not the advice they’d get from a financial specialist, but it worked. John, 34, graduated from the University of Delaware; Jones, 35, from West Chester University.
“I grew up skating with kids from this town,” John says of Haddonfield. “When I was in high school there were always competitions and we’d meet people from this area and in Philadelphia.”
When the opportunity opened to bring new life to a former skateboard shop, the men took it. Teens and other enthusiasts have made it a popular spot not only to shop, but to meet friends and check out new equipment. Its proximity to the PATCO rail station is a draw to out-of-towners.
Teens visiting the shop shortly after school dismissal one day last week laughed that they had been warned off twice in as many days by Haddonfield police, reminding them skateboarding on sidewalks and parking lots is outlawed.
“We just move from one place to another,” said one 14-year-old. “We try to stay ahead of them and they’re pretty nice about it.”
The youths talked about visiting a skateboarding venue in Maple Shade. One recently closed in the Moorestown Mall, near the food court, to make way for improvements that will bring in a larger movie complex.
A skateboarding park in Camden has little draw for the boarders from the suburbs, several visitors to Kinetics said.
“I still skate almost every day,” said John, who got on his first board when he was 5.
The Kinetics brand belongs to John and Jones and it’s imprinted on T-shirts and fleece hoodies.
John has proposed the creation of a skate park in an area off Centre Street near Reillywood Avenue, the site of the Mountwell pool. That pool, originally a dirt bottom swimming hole created when a stream was dammed thanks to the persistence of the Haddon Fortnightly, was paved in 1937 and continued in use until 1973, when the structure had so deteriorated that it wasn’t safe.
John said the area now is derelict and, with use of grant funds, could be turned into a skate park for the borough. He’s created a petition and so far has more than 150 signatures.
John recognizes the pedestrian influenced in town and understands why teens can’t be cruising on sidewalks and in the town’s pubic areas on boards. But skateboarding, he says, is an active activity and gets kids off the couch and away from video games. It’s very social even when it’s not competitive, he said.
He acknowledges that commissioners weren’t enthusiastic about his plan but thinks there is enough community support to keep interest alive.
“I think town officials are open about it, and if the people support the idea, it could happen. We’d need a lot of fundraising and grant money would help,” Jones said.
Clothing items in the shop are colorful and casual, with shoes in basic black and lots of colors. At this time of year, a rack in the rear holds sale items that include winter jackets suitable for active sports.
Skateboards, made out of Canadian hard rock maple, begin at about $90 and go to $200. He said some of the boards are made of wood harvested here that is shipped to China for manufacture and then shipped back. The cruisers are more expensive than those built to help with sharp turns. Shoes geared to the sport include some extra padding but are suitable for everyday use.
And, because Kinetics is a specialty shop, it’s stocked with socks, hats, helmets and gloves. John and Jones maintain a website, kineticskateboarding.com, that lists inventory and announces special sales, like this month’s sale on boards.
When the owners aren’t in the shop, customers often are greeted by Cole Kamish, a Haddonfield resident who will start his senior year at Rutgers University in the fall. Kamish has parlayed his love for skateboarding and retail experience into a part-time job in New York City with Vans Shoes, one of the leading manufacturers of specialty athletic footwear.
Kinetic Skateboard is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.