At Jenk HQ I can often feel left out when everyone else is talking about some random skater from the early 2000s. But sometimes my young age can come in handy, like when Ian [our publisher] needs help knowing what the kids find cool or they need someone to watch an hour-long Gifted Hater video and see if it has any useful insights.
So, when we found that two teens in Helena, Montana had started a skate shop, the elders at Jenkem sent me to investigate. Maybe they thought that as fellow Gen-Zers we would communicate in a proprietary language of TikTok references and Soundcloud rapper adlibs.
Levi Metz and Jake Orgeron were 18 and 16 when they went behind their parents’ backs and rented out a building to open up Creep Skateshop. Skateshops seem to be opening and closing left and right so why not let these two inexperienced teens mess around and see what they can do?
Jake: All right, interview me. Do I look cute on the other side of the webcam?
Yeah, yeah. You’re looking great. So what was the catalyst for you guys to decide to start the shop?
Levi: In the back of our friend’s car we were like, “Dude, do you want to start a skate shop? Yeah? OK let’s do it.”
Jake: I think we were driving to fucking Starbucks or something. We were sitting back there and I was like, “I’ve been wanting to open a skate shop for a minute now” and he just said, “Let’s do it.” I didn’t expect him to actually go through with it but we’re here now. It was just spur of the moment. I always wanted to start my own business but I didn’t expect it to actually end up working.
Gen-Z is supposed to be the laziest generation so how did you guys open a skate shop?
J: That shit makes me mad. I remember I was opening up the store and people were like, “You’re lazy.” Suck my dick. It’s funny, man. It’s dope as fuck to be doing my thing.
Gen Z is coming up with cool ass ideas. Just give them time. These old heads making fun of these young ass kids. “You’re 12 years old and you’re not working the field right now?” Shut the fuck up, bro. I’m 12 years old. Let me watch cartoons.
Did you have to take out a loan?
J: No, we just saved our last pennies. We started this with $6,000 and from a business perspective that ain’t shit. I was working at this place called FourOSix. It’s the shop around here that has been open for 14 years and they started the business with $50,000. We deadass had $6,000 from our shitty-ass jobs.
And that covered stock and everything?
L: Yeah. Surprisingly, rent and painting and everything.
What was the scene like in Montana before you guys started the shop?
J: You’d be surprised. People don’t understand that there are actually human beings in Montana that skate and don’t just ride horses everywhere. A lot of people will be like, “Yo, you guys ride horses in Montana, right?” I’m like, “No, bro.” There’s actually a pretty big scene, so it was cool to be able to grow it.
What are some of the funniest ways you cut corners and made it work?
J: I remember the entire building was painted peach and it’s 3,000 square feet. I would say we painted this all with like two cans of paint. We would ration this shit out. We would have like a square inch of paint left and maybe it would cover half this wall. We would use everything in the can trying to pinch every dollar. That’s how we lived for like six months.
L: We’d get dollar cheeseburgers everyday. I don’t even know how we did it.
“People don’t understand that there are actually human beings in Montana that skate and don’t just ride horses everywhere.”
So you’ve been open for only three months and you’re already doing well?
J: Yeah, we made all of our money back already. Our lights are on. We can pay our bills. And we made it through the winter.
L: We were open for only two and a half weeks and so many people came in around Christmas. It was sick.
What was the response like from your parents when you got the shop?
J: I got the shop before I even told my mom. We were going through a McDonald’s drive-thru and I’m like, “Mom, I’ve got something to tell you. I’m gonna start a skate shop.” She was like, “How the hell are you gonna do that?” I pulled out the keys and we drove back to Helena so I could show her the shop. She had no clue and then after she figured it out she freaked out. She was telling everyone, “Oh my gosh! My baby has a store!”
Did you guys get any interesting responses from anyone else, like teachers?
J: I’m dogshit at school, like horrible, but I had a small business teacher last year and I barely passed that man’s class. I remember when I opened up the shop, I emailed him and I was like, “Yo! I opened up a skate shop!” but he never replied to my email. Maybe he didn’t see it. Then one of the kids, after the shop opened, told him about me and Levi being on the news and then he emailed me back like, “Bro, that’s crazy! I can’t believe you did that. You failed my class.”
Do you think anything you learned in his class has helped you so far?
J: Dude, I’mma be straight, no. He was a dope-ass teacher but I was doing profit and loss statements and I have yet to need to do that. I don’t think I ever used anything he told me. I’m sure there are other businesses that need a profit and loss statement, but for this, it’s just a federal tax ID and a couple of idiot kids.
Did you guys have any other mentors that were in the process of opening up the shop?
J: Yeah, the previous skate shop owners in Helena, I got to meet them and ask them what they did wrong. They were like, “We didn’t sell clothes.” When I asked what they did during the wintertime they said they did nothing. Living here, you’ve got to sell clothes because it’s cold as hell and no one is buying a skateboard in -13 degree weather.
At any point in the process has your age been a problem?
J: I don’t think there’s been a problem on the business side. But people don’t always take us seriously. Like we don’t have a sign. On our window, it’s just graffiti. You’ll have people walking by and they’re like, “What the fuck is this?”
Also, before we opened we were raising a fucking cat in the shop. There were people who called animal control on us. I think it was 24 times in one day because they thought we were just abandoning the cat.
“I hope my guidance counselor doesn’t see this… I did a whole semester of school in like four hours. It’s pretty simple.”
Jake, you’re still in high school?
J: Yeah, I do online school. I have to be at the shop from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day so I can’t even go to school. I just do that shit online. It’s through my school but I don’t have any of my normal school teachers. People that go to my school are like, “Bro, did you drop out?” I’m like, “No, bro I just do that shit online,” and they don’t believe me.
Is it hard to manage the shop and school?
J: Dude, I hope my guidance counselor doesn’t see this, no. That shit is so easy. I did a whole semester of school in like four hours.
And Levi, you graduated last year?
L: Yeah, I graduated last year thankfully. I had no idea what I was gonna do. I’m happy we opened the skate shop because I had nothing planned. I’m not going to college. Without the shop, I would probably be some homeless man under a bridge or something.
Has it been difficult opening up a shop when you’re not connected to the industry?
J: It is a very cutoff community. but difficult? No. From an outsider’s perspective, I can see how might seem that way.
Before we even opened we always talked about how we had to put $2,000 here and another $2,000 and a lot of people were like, “Damn, why would you do that?” It was just something we were both so passionate about. It wasn’t even like we were throwing away money. I would do this if it wasn’t paying. Whenever I’m bored I come here and hang out with everybody.
“I get bored watching those older videos. It’s cool, but they’re deadass just spinning on their tail… I like seeing them send shit on some stairs.”
Would you guys consider yourself knowledgeable in skate history?
J: The thing I fear about owning a shop is I’m gonna have some old head come in here and be like, “Hey, did you see what so-and-so did in 1962 on those metal wheels?” and I’ll be like “No.” But at the same time, I’m up to date on some small skaters that I really fuck with. There is this guy called Sock Jus who makes good music and is a super good skater. I think he’s in Montero Valley, California. There are a bunch of smaller skaters that I like to watch.
At Jenkem all the other guys will be talking about older videos or brands or skaters and I just have no idea what they’re talking about.
J: Oh yeah, I wouldn’t either. I would just be like, “Y’all are crazy.” I get bored watching those older videos. It’s cool, but they’re deadass just spinning on their tail. It’s dope and it’s talent, but I like seeing them send shit on some stairs. I like seeing motherfuckers eat shit and then go back three weeks later with their finger still fucked up and hit that shit and land it.
So who are some of the skaters you guys are showing in the shop?
J: Godspeed by Illegal Civ, they’re dope as fuck. Baker 3, all the Baker videos are dope. Other than that it’s just playing shit on a loop. There are also some crazy videos from Creature. I like weird videos on YouTube with like 200 views. I feel like I am on the dark web when I’m watching.
Does the low success rate for skate shops scare you?
J: No, not really. I’m pretty confident with what we have going on. If other brands can do it, why can’t I? Shit like this is just publicity. I thrive off of the fact that I’m 17. I can pitch that to people and it works most of the time. I’m not really worried about it.
I’m happy that I was able to start when I did. We always talk about how we could close down tomorrow and yeah that’s a bummer, but at the same time, we’re not losing shit. It’s not like we’re $25,000 in debt. All of our bills are paid.
I feel like even in three years if this all doesn’t work out, you’ll still be like 21.
J: Yeah. I’ve learned so much so if I put this on a resume and go up to people I can be like, “Hey, I own this fucking store, hire me!” It would be a bigger advantage. So I feel like I’m set and even if this does close down, I’ll go ahead and open another one.
Would you ever be interested in starting your own clothing brand and becoming a big name like Supreme?
J: Oh yeah! We make our own clothes but I don’t think I’d ever want to turn into a Supreme ordeal just because… I mean old Supreme, that shit is dope. But the way it is now is kind of iffy. I would love to have some shit like that where I can slowly stop selling the bigger brands and just sell our stuff. That could be three years from now, it could be 30 years from now. A lot of people here are just down in the dumps because we’re in such a small town where there is nothing they can do but fucking make lemonade out of lemons. That’s what I’m trying to do.
Is getting stuck in Montana something that’s a problem for kids out near you?
J: Oh, without a fucking doubt. I talk about my sponsored skaters all the time and they have the talent to be skating for teams in New York and teams in LA but they don’t know how to get out, or they’re just waiting for someone to see them online. It sucks because I know that there are people here with crazy-ass ideas and I’m glad that we can be the people to make them realize that they can do that too.
Do kids usually resort to drugs and things like that?
J: Dude, Jesus Christ, I think Helena, or Montana in general, is one of the biggest drug capitals in the country. The drug and suicide rate is crazy because the winter is so bad. You have nothing to do so people are just like, “Oh, black tar heroin? That’s not too bad.” Crack on the streets and crazy tweakers running around yelling at you… It’s like Vegas but with 60,000 people. It’s definitely funky.
Is that something you guys ever experimented with or ran into?
J: Us, personally, no. People at my high school, 100% yes. I’ve never smoked or drank but my buddies do. They can do their thing, it’s just not for us. I remember being in the 7th grade and people were getting caught smoking weed in the bathroom. It sucks seeing people getting arrested at 17 because they got drug charges. The high schools are wild. You definitely see some shit. Drugs, crime, and video games. That’s Helena.
Were you guys ever afraid of the shop getting robbed?
J: Dude, I’ve been robbed! I was so sad. A couple of people came in, and I had my bag with a bunch of shit sitting on our couch and these people were like, “This shop is wild. blah blah blah…” Ten minutes after they left I was looking for my bag because I needed chapstick. I couldn’t find it so I checked our cameras and this fat bitch with the group took our bag. That was like a month and a half after we were open.
Do you guys like Nyjah or are you anti-Nyjah?
J: Dude, Nyjah is dope but at the same time, it’s not that he sold out, but he blew up way too quick. He’s got too many girls. Too many cars. Too many sponsors. He’s good as fuck but he skates like a robot. I would never pay $110 for a pair of skate shoes or whatever his shoes cost. I sound like a hater because he’s good as fuck. I just don’t like his style.
What are some brands that are too wack for you guys to stock?
J: That’s a good question. I don’t know. This is so far out there and stupid and it wouldn’t happen, but I think BAPE is disgusting. Y’all wear BAPE too much in New York. Sometimes they’ve got a cool jacket but their new shit is goofy as fuck.
What about RipNDip?
J: RipNDip is gross. It used to be cool, but now it’s just for weird white girls that smoke cigarettes. It’s just a Zumiez brand.
Do you guys have Zumiez out there in Montana?
J: Not in Helena. We don’t even have a mall here. If you want to go to a Zumiez you have to drive two or three hours.
Well, I guess that would make Helena one of the best skate cities in America.
J: The mailman just came in. Can you say what’s up to the mailman? He is dope as fuck.
Mailman: How’s it going, man?
What’s up, mailman? You got any good stories about these guys?
J: This is our interview for a magazine so tell them some stories.
M: I have no idea. I think it’s pretty amazing. They’re just kids and they started up this store downtown. They seem to be doing pretty good to me. They’re keeping the doors open and it is the slowest time of the year right now, especially for skateboarders.
Do you think they’re a good force for Helena and for the kids?
M: 100%. I don’t know if the kids see it or not, but to me, they are an inspiration. They should be an inspiration to everyone they go to school with. They started their own jobs and went out there and did it. You can’t be afraid because these guys did it.
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