Flophouse Skateboards, underneath Taco King, started when another basement business, Eco Sign Solutions, began spilling over into Taco King’s storage space. After some polite nagging, Taco King owner Saber Naghmouchi finally “told us to get our stuff out of there or start paying rent,” explains Ben Thompson, who works as a graphic designer at Eco Sign and also makes custom skateboards. “I asked, ‘how much do you want?'” laughs Thompson, and a business was born.
Flophouse Skateboards’ entrance is a little hard to find unless the heavy steel door in Taco King’s basement is ajar. (There’s also a connecting door to Eco Signs, whose entrance is through the parking lot behind Stadium Hardware.) Nevertheless, Thompson keeps regular retail hours.
A Flophouse “deck” (a skateboard with no wheels) featuring one of his ten or so house designs costs $45. A custom-designed board with wheels mounted costs $200 and up. Thompson is not a woodworker: he buys the blank decks. From then on, he uses some of the same technology employed next door at Eco Signs: a drawing is scanned into a computer and tweaked and perfected in Illustrator or Photoshop, he explains, then “printed on vinyl. It’s kind of like a vinyl sticker,” which is mounted to the blank deck, sealed, and clear coated.
Thompson’s aesthetic is Salvador Dali meets Sons of Anarchy–surrealism and skulls. Both his own and Dali’s art are mounted on the walls, and there isn’t always a clear distinction between the two. Thompson says his fascination with skulls started with an art school assignment to draw an anatomically correct body part, and he soon realized he was particularly good at crania. If Thompson looks familiar, it’s because he managed the kitchen of the People’s Food Co-op from 2007 to 2013.
Flophouse Skateboards, 2231 W. Liberty (basement of Taco King), 827-4651. Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Sat. & Sun. flophouseskate.com