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Villa Park skate shop owner 'motivates' local kids

Published: Thursday, July 18, 2013 6:23 a.m. CDT
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Erica Benson-ebenson@shawmedia.com Scott Mitchell, owner of Motiv8 Skate Shop in Villa Park, offers skateboards, T-shirts and accessories for local skaters.

VILLA PARK – Scott Mitchell started his business during an uncertain time for an entrepreneur.

It was 2009 when Motiv8 Skate Shop first opened its doors, and the business was a way for Mitchell to create his own employment during an unstable economy.

"It was during a time when employment was down for carpenters," he said. "I just figured I would open something that I had always wanted to do when I had a window of opportunity."

This thought process is what spurred Mitchell, a Broadview resident and carpenter by trade, to open the skate shop.

Mitchell began skateboarding in 1976 after receiving his first board in an Easter basket from his parents. It was something that stayed with him into his mid 20s before a new wife and family began to take precedence.

Then, about 10 years ago, when his daughter was playing travel softball, he began going into different towns for her games and noticed the rise in public skate parks.

"Slowly but surely, they started coming up," he said. "Eventually, I bought a board and kept it in my truck. I was reunited with it."

During the first year of Motiv8's existence, Mitchell kept about seven skateboards hanging on the wall. The center of the shop was empty, except for a long bench that stretched the length of the room. Today, the bench has been cut in half to make room for racks of skateboarding clothes in the middle of the store, and dozens of skateboards and longboards line the walls.

"We went from nothing into a full-service skate shop," Mitchell said. "We've gone a long way in four years."

When he first decided to open his business, Mitchell faced the same problem as many entrepreneurs: deciding where to set up shop.

Although he lived in Broadview, there were already skate shops in the nearby communities of La Grange and Berwyn so he checked out Villa Park on the suggestion of his wife who worked in town.

"My wife said, 'There are all kinds of kids in Villa Park on skateboards, they're everywhere.'"

The only skate park in town at the time was near Jefferson Pool and in poor repair when Mitchell visited it. He called the village asking if anything was being done to improve the park and was connected to Paulina Jimenez, a local mom leading the charge to bring a professional park to the village.

He met Jimenez later and learned about the Villa Park Skate Park Committee she had founded.

Convinced that Villa Park had the community support he needed, Mitchell set up shop in town, he joined the skate park committee and became involved in helping raise enough money to bring the park to town.

"I think he's been extremely important for the kids in town," Jimenez said. "He motivates people, the name (of his shop) was perfect."

The skate park at the Iowa Community Center finally opened earlier this summer, and Mitchell goes out there to skate it almost every day on his own. He said there's hasn't been a major boom in business because of it, but he's excited about what the park means to the community and to suburban skaters.

"It wasn't easy," he said. "It's a miracle that park was built. The kids flock to it. Isn't that what you want?"

In the future, he hopes he'll be able to help organize shows, contests and events at the park. At the same time, he's branching his business onto the Internet, selling more boards and hoping to expand.

"I've always tried to be the best skate shop in Illinois," he said. "But being as young as we are, it's hard to claim that."

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