Monday, April 26, 2010
end of an era
years in existence: 1997-2008
this is another shop that has quite a long history/story....i'll try and start with my first memories of this jam as well. i kinda remember calling information (when's the last time you did that?) 'cause i heard there was a new skateshop in somerville. i'm pretty sure it was just opening up at that point and i think i got the number, called up and went over there that weekend to get a new board. remember, this was back when i was a sophomore in high school. i had to get my mom to drive my ass to even check this place out! i know i had high hopes that this would hopefully be a suitable replacement for wasteland.
that first trip to unreal was amazing, to say the least. i had been getting decks from mail order catalogs like ccs and intensity (remember that shiz?) so it was refreshing to actually go to a store and pick something off the wall. i think i bought a new complete; pretty sure it was a purple powell blank with either some grind king/venture trucks and some blank wheels (probably 54mm.) this was the start of a very long relationship....
the unreal crew were always good to me and the ftown crew. we got to know the guys pretty well from always being in the shop and the occasional times we would meet up and have a sesh (waaay back when skating somerville was rad and when hillsborough built the skatepark.) i remember skating the raritan mall and someone telling me that steve lawson kickflipped the really narrow double-set of stairs (only the first set, but still..) sometimes i saw them at hackettstown, where they even had a shop for a short time (bonus points if you remember that one!) i even went to rvcc with one of the owners, ed kemp, for a short time. craig was always a good dude with hooking us up with blanks for $30 and one time i think i got one for like $26 (vip treatment all the way.) needless to say they were good dudes and were down from the beginning.
the shop itself was huge for a good while, kids were buying shit up like hotcakes if you went in there on a saturday. it definitely rode the wave of skateboarding up until like 2003 or 04, when a vans shop opened up in the bridgewater mall and sucked up all their business. at one point the shop had expanded to the store next to it, so the shop was split with skateboarding on one side and rollerblading on the other (super bonus points if you remember that too.) that time of the expansion was pretty short lived, if my memory serves me right.
there was definitely a waning point where when the ftown crew went to college, from 2001 and on, unreal became an afterthought. not living nearby i would stop in everyone once in a while but when the trip was no longer 20 minutes it didn't happen very often. i even photographed an annual report of the store when i was in college, which was pretty fun/random. i'll post some of the photos up once i dig them up, circa 2004.
one of my last memories of the shop was pretty crazy. craig, the dude i mentioned before, hadn't worked there in years and he was randomly at the shop when i popped in (probably like 2004 or 05). we said "what's up" and chatted for a little bit. then, when he went to leave he said, "well, i guess i'll probably never see you again." it was a weird and really sad thing, knowing that part of your life will be over. just thinking back to all the time i spent in that shop hanging with those dudes and then just having it all disappear is a real bummer.
here's to you unreal, may you live on in internet obscurity.
*photos pilfered from unreal's myspace page.