Jason Hawkes is bringing Cardinal Skate Shop from Virginia Beach to Granby in the NEON District.
They will be taking over 733 Granby St, which is adjacent to where The Garage used to be.
“We support skateboarding in every aspect,” said Hawkes. “From the brands to the hard goods, we try to make sure we’re touching that entire lifestyle. We consider ourselves the one-stop. We’ve done the cherry picking for you. We’re selling you the best you can get — we wouldn’t sell you anything we wouldn’t ride ourselves.”
Cardinal’s current location, at The Plaza, feels like it is in decline, said Hawkes. Faced with the choice of remodeling or moving, he chose joining friends in the NEON District.
“Cardinal has always had an awesome legacy in local skate culture, from its beginnings in Virginia Beach to its new home in the NEON,” said Charles Rasputin, a driving force of much of the magic at Work | Release and Alchemy NFK. “Jason and Cardinal have always championed the artist inside each skateboarder, from helping create and promote art shows for skater/artists to encouraging and giving a home to the young filmmakers that film and showcase their friends.”
Skateboarding has long been a culture that the powers-that-be have had trouble understanding. From the clothes to the attitude to the scabs, nothing about it is button-up. The stigma has started to shift in recent years as cities have realized that if you give skateboarders somewhere to play — rather than treating them like vagrants — everyone wins. Northside and Mount Trashmore, for two local examples.
“Humans beings need to be active and productive; if we’re not then we feel useless, and when we feel useless we get depressed,” said Hawkes. “Skateboarding is a release for those feelings. It burns off that pent up energy from the day of school or work. It provides a sense of belonging to something bigger than yourself as a participant, not an observer.”
Something positive for skateboarders in the NEON has been a long time coming after an unfortunate, if very well-intentioned, swing-and-a-miss with the skateable sculpture the city attempted on Wilson.
“Awesome skateboard retail and a brick and mortar home for the skater and the scene is something we have needed for a long time downtown,” said Rasputin. “Cardinal Skate Shop in the NEON means more diversely accessible gateways into exercise, creativity and problem solving for our kids and kids at heart.”
There’s a sense among the arts district community that Cardinal will be the precursor to permanent skate facilities in the neighborhood.
“The DNC acknowledges the need and is supportive of skate facilities in the vicinity of downtown or Ghent,” said the Downtown Norfolk Council’s Rachel McCall. “There is a growing effort to create a space for it.”
Nick Vitale at Zeke’s is stoked.
“Having a brick and mortar skate shop in the Arts District further reinforces our need to create a hassle-free skate spot for our long-standing (and unnecessarily frowned upon) Norfolk skate culture,” he said. “We at Zeke’s are absolutely pumped that Jason is bringing Cardinal to the neighborhood.”
At this point Hawkes is “crossing his fingers” for a September opening. He’s planning some excellent surprises for inside the shop that might take a little extra time, but will be well worth it. Cardinal and the future skate park are going to add beautiful vibrancy, opportunities for fitness, and creatively-minded people to the NEON, making the neighborhood even more of a beacon for the most Roman candle-like souls of Hampton Roads and beyond. This is a rad step.
“I’ve got a good feeling about the way I’ve seen Norfolk changing and that’s why I’m moving my business here,” said Hawkes. “It’s an opportunity to be a part of a growing community in the early stages and be a part of a larger growing family. I’m excited to see what we can do in Norfolk.”