Christopher Redden’s Olympia Skate Shop in Ypsilanti has drawn customers from across the state and around the Great Lakes. But he’s always wanted a store in Ann Arbor.
In fact, when he first laid plans for the shop five years ago, he says he tried to nab the old Peaceable Kingdom location on Main St., where he had volunteered as an art installer.
Instead, he set up a 2,400-square-foot shop on W. Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti. But Ann Arbor still beckoned, and Redden briefly held an Ann Arbor pop-up two summers ago.
Finally, in April, Redden’s wish for an Ann Arbor store came true. As the Observer went to press, Olympia was set to open April 23 in the former Real Irish shop on S. Fourth Ave. (an update on Real Irish follows). While it has the same square footage as the original store, which will remain open, the new location has one notable difference.
Half the Ypsi shop’s square footage is dedicated to a garage-style area where enthusiasts can skate. There won’t be any skating at Olympia’s new location, unless it takes place on the sidewalk.
But it will sell a wide variety of skating gear, ranging from skateboards and shoes to apparel. Redden thinks it may be the only place downtown where customers can purchase Nike-brand footwear.
However, he is firm that Olympia isn’t a clothing store. It’s meant for people who are serious about skating.
“A lot of skateboard shops in downtown areas don’t have hard goods,” Redden says, meaning the actual equipment. “We’re going to have the same hard goods that we sell in Ypsilanti.”
One advantage of having two stores is that Redden can order double supplies of in-demand goods, like limited-edition shoes, and gear made overseas. The most popular shoes by far are Nike’s low-rise SB Dunks. When new models come out, “those draw a line of customers overnight,” Redden says. The shoes, which generally retail for $100 to $130, are often flipped on resale sites, where they can bring upwards of $1,000. Hoodies by Dime, a street-wear staple in London and New York, also sell fast, at $90 to $100.
Redden says he’s particularly excited to be in Ann Arbor because of the University of Michigan’s Skate Collective, which has about 250 members. Club members have routinely piled in five to a car to trek from campus to his Ypsi location.
He expects Ann Arbor’s wildly popular skate park also will fuel his business. “It’s the most successful park in Ann Arbor’s history,” he says, and hopes rumors of a skate park on the U-M campus come true.
The transition from Irish shop to skate shop might seem unusual, but not to Redden. He remembers standing across the street with friends and looking at the Fourth Ave. building, willing his dream to come true. “Why not right there?” he said at the time. Now, Olympia is moving in.
Olympia Skate Shop, 213 S. Fourth Ave. (734) 544–1582. Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–7 p.m., Sun. noon–6 p.m. olympiaskateshop.com