Pro Skates has been keeping people moving for 23 years. Zach Tovey and Jon Swinamer, the current owners, have been working at the store almost since the beginning, and in the past decade they've taken over the operation—and expanded it, with Pro Girl just up Blowers Street and another Pro Skates on Quinpool Road.
"It was smaller than it is now, of course," says Swinamer of the skateboarding scene back in the day. "But it was tight-knit, a core bunch of guys who were definitely dedicated to it."
The years since for Swinamer and his colleagues have been about nurturing the pastime, about getting the word out and helping the community grow.
"We are behind and/or support almost every skateboarding event in Halifax for all that time," he says. "Our shirts almost always say 'Halifax, Nova Scotia.' We helped get the skatepark built, and we've done all kinds of stuff on our own, to build stuff when the city wouldn't. We're just down for it. But we're only here because of our customers. They continue to support us and we continue to try to give them what they want."
Local producers of skateboards and skate-related apparel include Homegrown Skateboards out of LaHave, Nova Scotia, and East Coast Lips Canadian Board Wear. At Pro Girl some of the local brands include Orphange Clothing, Gypsy Design and Wiseguy bandanas. There are also popular international lines, like Vans, Insight and Volcom.
"There has been a levelling off, with the 'r' word, the recession," says Swinamer. "We're still here, of course, but we've felt it. I think there's still room for growth. Skateboarding is growing with younger kids, and a lot of older guys are getting back into it with all the new parks that are getting built."