INTERVIEW: Home Skateshop owner Noah Hulsman on the family business, the Skate Park Awareness Jam, & grinding in Coruscant!

For as long as I can remember, Home Skateshop has been a staple of the Louisville skate scene. While I was never a skater, Home has always been a refuge for folks that were not only into skating, but who ran in the adjacent punk and indie scenes in the city, a safe haven for weirdos of all stripes (albeit more athletic than me). Noah Hulsman grew up in that same environment, first through his relationship with his uncle the professional skater Thom Hornung, and later through mutual friends who went on to own the business.

Eventually, Hulsman went on to carry that legacy as the current owner of the store, and this weekend their celebrating the importance of skate (etc.) culture with the Skate Park Awareness Jam, a day of non-violent observation at the downtown park to show unity after a recent violent attack. Proceeds from the event will go to funding what Hulsman hopes will be a new and improved Breslin park, which you can learn about below. We caught up to him to ask about the event, getting into skating, and Tony Hawk Pro-Skater!

Never Nervous: Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into skating?

NH: I’ve been skating for 21 years. My grandma, Becky Hornung, owned a skate shop called Skateboards Unlimited in the 80’s. Her shop was located off Preston Highways outside of the Audubon Park neighborhood. My uncle, Thom Hornung, was also a professional skateboarder and used to own Home Skateshop with his friend Derek Metten. I guess I’d say that’s how I got into skateboarding, just being around it all my life, rolling around my grandmas shop on my knees before I could walk.

NN: How did home start? Have you always owned the business? Tell us a little about that. What are the challenges in running a business?

NH: Home Skateshop started in 1994 by Sean Fawbush who was a former employee at Skateboard Unlimited. When my grandma closed her doors in 93’ Sean felt this city still needed a core skateboard shop. Fast forward a few years later and Sean offered the business to my friends Thom Hornung and Derek Metten. That’s when I was given the opportunity to hang around the shop and help out. I started just sweeping around the shop and taking out trash. Little by little more hours became available and eventually I had a great part time job working at the shop. After working at the shop for almost 8 years I was approached by Thom & Derek about buying the business from them and continuing the legacy.

One of the main challenges of running a skateboard shop is how much variety is out there is this industry. Seems like a new company pops up every few months. Kids these days are on to the next new trend after a few weeks, so I’m always chasing whats going to be the next new trend. Since we’ve been the only core skate shop in Louisville we tend to dictate what brands and products we see doing the most for skateboarding. All of us being skateboards who work at the shop benefits us and the customers. We wouldn’t carry a product we wouldn’t skate ourselves.

“Since we’ve been the only core skate shop in Louisville we tend to dictate what brands and products we see doing the most for skateboarding. All of us being skateboards who work at the shop benefits us and the customers. We wouldn’t carry a product we wouldn’t skate ourselves.”

NN: Walk us through the incident at the downtown skate park. What happened to your knowledge?

NH: From what i’ve collected talking to the mother who was assaulted it was a senseless act of violence. A group of young kids, who were not at the skate park to skateboard, bike, or rollerblade, approached her and her son and started intimidating and threatening them. The mother and son fled to their car which the kids proceeded to vandalize by jumping on the hood and roof of the car. The concerned mother called 911 and the police were not so quick to arrive she said. With the 911 operator on the phone, the mother got out of the car to try and yell/scream at the kids to stop and thats when they were chased back up towards the skate park and jumped/beat up. The video that has been circulating is incredibly graphic and hard to watch.

NN: More importantly, how does that reflect on the scene there? To your knowledge, is this kind of thing common?

NH: The skate park opened in 2002 and has always been a little rough around the edges. With the development of the Nulu neighborhood, the city moved the Clarksdale Housing Projects. This changed the vibe of the park a lot. We used to have kids stealing bikes, boards, backpacks, & coming down to start fights. In recent years we haven’t had much of an issue at the park. A bit of weed smoking, guys drinking beers, few homeless folks lurking around, graffiti, nothing that you don’t see around the city already. It’s only in the last year that we’ve had issues with gangs of kids coming down to jump kids or shooting guns off in the air. We do our best to self police the park, but we cant be there 24/7. We’ve asked for more police presence, but they seem to brush it off and think that the skateboarders/BMX/rollerbladers are the cause of the problems and they don’t want to help us. I also understand that the LMPD is very understaffed and underpaid. It’s just a shame that when they pull up all they’re worried about is handing out tickets for open containers and searching backpacks for weed.

NN: What is the goal of the Skate Park Awareness Jam?

NH: The goal of the Jam this Saturday is to show the city that the Skateboarders/Bikers/Rollerbladers are not the ones causing the problems. We need the cities help to put a stop to all the violence at the skate park and in all of our parks for that matter. I think if we, the skateboarders, worked together with the city we could figure out a way to clean up the skate park. This event is all about NON-VIOLENCE. We want to have a good time, do some contests for cash, fire up the grill, and hold the park down all day long.

NN: What type of activities should we expect there? I understand that there is a trick list going up. Can you preview that at all?

NH: We will be raising money for the new Breslin 2.0 Project that myself, Louisville Parks Foundation, Rockerbuilt Studios, and Hunger Skateparks have been working on for the last six months. There will also be raffle prizes and tricks for cash! We’re keeping the trick list secret for now so everyone has a fair chance to see the lists at the same time.

I’m picking three areas of the park to list tricks for. Tricks will be worth $5, $10, and $20. Skaters will team up with a friend and film the trick, bring it to me for review, and receive their cash! At the end of the day we’re going to put all the trick clips together and put a montage together for social media. So if you cant make it this Saturday be on the look out for the recap video. We’ve never done a contest in this format, I’m excited to see how it goes.

NN: I understand that you are looking into rebuilding or renovating Breslin. What’s the story there? How do you hope to see that develop?

NH: Yes! Back in the 90’s our only skate/bike park was at Breslin park. When the city was planning the Extreme Park they took Breslin out in hopes that the Extreme Park would be bigger and better. We agree that the Extreme Park is bigger but not better.. The fact that some kids have to ride two TARC busses to get to the downtown park isn’t fair.
Most of our Metro Parks have basketball, tennis, splash areas, etc, but no skateboard/bike obstacles. We’re planning to use Breslin as the starting point for multiple “Skate Spots” to be installed in our existing metro parks. By the end of 2019 we’re hoping to have three “Skate Spots” around the city. We believe that putting skate spots in neighborhoods around the city will keep things a lot safer.

It seems that the city wanted to corral all fo the skateboarders/bikers in one area of the city to keep an eye on us. Since skateboarding/BMX has always had a negative perception the city put us in a “bad part of town” that, at the time, empty. If we are able to work with the neighborhoods around the city to put in skate spots it will create great communities of skateboarders to help police/watch the neighborhood. One example is a skate park that was put in by Pixar Studios in San Francisco. It’s called Joseph Emery Park. The employee parking lot for Pixar was located two blocks from the offices and as employees were walking to and from their car a lot of muggings were occurring. Pixar saw the problem and a great opportunity to transform dead space into a functioning park with skate-able obstacles. Now there are people skating the park every day and all the muggers and bums have been pushed out by the skateboarders.

NN: What is your ultimate dream for growth for the skating, BMX, etc. community in Louisville and the regional area?

NH: More small, different, spots scattered all around the city. We want the east end, west end, south end, and even counties outside of Louisville Metro to see the opportunity to grow this city is a way they’ve never thought of. Families travel together to skate parks all across the united states. Its a huge tourist industry now and bring so many people to cities that have nationally recognized skateboard parks. Our downtown park is one of them.

NN: Were you any good at Tony Hawk Pro Skater?

NH: N64 or Playstation? hahah, yes, I think if you we’re a skateboarder in 1999/2000 you had to play THPS! I’d always play as Chad Muska, he’s the man. Ghetto Blaster all day!

NN: If you could skate one fictional place where would it be and why?

“Street skateboarding thrives in big cities that are always changing and building new environments to skateboard in, on, and around.”

NH: I’d have to pick the Galactic City of Coruscant from Star Wars. It’s one of the biggest cities in The Galactic Core. Street skateboarding thrives in big cities that are always changing and building new environments to skateboard in, on, and around.

NN: Have you read, eaten, drank, or watched anything worth talking about lately?

NH: Yes, I actually just got back from Amsterdam, Berlin, and Brussels! Everything is amazing in those cities. Skateboarding, food, drinks, music. Had a chance to visit one of the oldest Lambic Breweries in Brussels, Cantillon. If you ever have a chance to taste their beers I highly recommend it. A huge highlight would be the way they integrate skateboard spots/parks into the city scape. You’d be walking around a neighborhood and turn a corner to see a little skate park tucked up into a little park. Also, the way they recycle is great. Come on America, get with the times!

NN: You can pick three records to skate to. What would you pick and why?

NH: We’ve been playing a lot of Andre Nickatina in the shop recently. Daiquiri Factory is one of my favorite albums. The west coast vibes are great to skate to. Love some Orange Juice. All of the old Postcard Records stuff is great. Good lyrics and great up tempo alternative vibes. Lastly, I’d have to say Gucci Mane. If you haven’t gotten a chance to read his autobiography he put out this past year its a must read!