For skaters, by skaters

Spencer Benavides

Photo By Miranda Jesch

On top of glass counters filled with multicolored wheels lies a new shipment of skateboards, just in. After finishing two phone calls in a row, Spencer Benavides apologizes: “Sorry it’s kind of messy in here.” But it doesn’t look messy at all. Boards hang on the wall in perfect order. Clothing hangs on the opposite wall, and in the back of the store, there is something that no other skate shop in Reno has—a half-pipe. Spencer, 25, is a manager and co-founder of 50/50 Boardshop, 1233 Baring Blvd., Suite A-13 in Sparks. The store opened in August. Call 355-1818 for more info.

How long have you been skating?

For 16 years. … When I was younger, I saw a commercial on TV of a banana board with a big nose that had a handle that stuck up. It was like a scooter. That’s what got me interested.

How did you get started working here?

The two owners and I started it together. We were all skateboarders and were unhappy with the shops in Reno. It was very hard to get it together at first. None of us had any experience owning or running a business, and that made it difficult. But it’s open now and doing really well. [When] skateboarders are selling their own product, they know exactly what they’re talking about.

What kind of problems do skateboarders run into in Reno?

Pretty much, skating is illegal anywhere you go, but they’ve been opening up a lot more skate parks lately. It would be easy for a person to start skating in Reno now. There’s actually [Burgess Skate Park] opening up in a couple weeks that I’ve helped to get going. It has been really frustrating, though. The whole thing has been half good and half bad. All the red tape you have to deal with when going through the city is the biggest problem. Simple things have to pass through too many hands. But the things that make it good are the people who will sit down and listen to what you have to say. Some of the people at Reno Parks and Recreation have been really good about that.

Where do you skate?

I like to street skate. The street skating is good in Reno. I’d rather be on the street than in a park. But I can do really any type of skating: ramps, steps, parks. I also skate for companies. I’m sponsored by Madkap Skateboards, and I actually have my own model through them (Spencer points to a board on the counter with his name on it). I am also sponsored by Chikara Wheels.

You seem pretty busy. What else do you do?

I like to collect old punk rock records. Other than that, I work a lot and do things like helping to set up this last skate park. I spend a lot of time trying to further skateboarding around Reno—probably too much time.