Launch is launched to Packard and Platt
Ulrich's relocation brings the east side a board shop.
From the May, 2017 issue
After fifteen years on South University, Launch Board Shop has moved to the corner of Packard and Platt. Owner John Causland got notice to leave South U in December.
Though developer Ron Hughes has been buying up properties on South U for years, including the Launch building, "we didn't think we were going to be forced out at all," Causland admits. "We thought we would be there for a long time before they developed it." But though Hughes isn't redeveloping Launch's corner, he is moving ahead on plans for a ten-story student apartment on the other side of South U that will span the entire block between Church and East University. Ulrich's bookstore needs to relocate during construction, and Launch's building was available.
"We didn't have a lease, so they could do whatever they wanted to with us," explains Causland, who also owns Footprints shoes on Main St. "They were nice enough to let us stay one extra day for Hash Bash because it's such a big day." Two days later, Launch moved in to its new location.
Causland found the spot by chance. Driving by in February, he saw a "for rent" sign, went in to investigate, and found that he already knew the owner, Steve Welch: "He wrote me my first lease on my first shoe store, thirty-seven years ago!" Causland took that as a good sign and decided to rent the place.
Causland branched out from shoes to boards in 2001. Launch "was not my vision," he stresses. "It was the vision of other people who worked at the shop back at the time who were early skateboarders." Board shoes were a natural first step, and from there they added boards, wheels, and some attire. They carry professional but affordable brands; a pair of skate shoes, for instance, costs around $60-$80.
With that history, Causland says he could not have liquidated the store in good conscience. "Launch is a labor of love and a
part of so many people ... [it] is all about supporting young men and giving them something to do." Though he had some concern about the move--the flat southeast side isn't prime skating territory--Causland said when he brought it up to his young employees, they greeted it with unexpected enthusiasm.
Store manager Eric Hauer has been coming to Launch since he was eleven (he is twenty-one now). "The parking is so nice!" says Hauer. "I have so many different ideas ..."
Launch Board Shop, 3130 Packard, 827-5283. Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-7p.m., Sun. noon-6 p.m.
[Originally published in May, 2017.]
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