Interview with Broderick Gumpright

Broderick Gumpright Orchard Skateboardshop

Broderick Gumpright is one of the founders of Orchard Skateshop. Now with two locations in the Boston (technically one is in Allston) Along with his partners, Broderick “Bro” Gumpright have built a cornerstone shop and community for skateboarders in the north east. Their Flagship location in Allston has an art gallery that regularly features art that is related to skateboarding. Their free half-pipe is gone but in August of 2015 a bowl with a birds nest esthetic was built in its place. Free to ride, so long as you’ve signed the shop waiver.   Contributing writer Kevin Marks had some questions for Broderick about veganism, skateboarding, and art.

Where did you grow up?  Brewster, Massachusetts (Cape Cod)

What year did you start skating?  1988 for sure but I think I rode a board as early as 83 or 84.

How did you fall into being a skater?  My step brothers built a quarter pipe in the driveway. My dad got me a used Bradlee’s board from the local flea-market so I could skate with them.  I was pretty much hooked on that day.

First board?  It was a “spectrum” from Bradlees.  First real board was a Vision Shredder II with Pink Vision Shredder wheels and Venture trucks, and yellow rails.

How did you come up with the name and what is the meaning of Orchard?  My first business partner Jon Devoe had worked in an apple orchard and it was a name he had been thinking of for years.  I wanted to call it some bad names like Mass Destruction or Ironside.  We settled on that because we were both vegetarians.  Years after we left that part of the city we found out the location was originally an apple orchard way back in the day.  Some people still call it “Orchid” or “Orkard” we joke that our name is an intelligence test.  Pass / Fail.  Some fail.

What sort of jobs did you work before opening orchard? I cleaned pools, worked at a skatepark, worked as an office drone for way too long.

How did you meet your biz partners?  Devoe was my first business partner and I’d known him for when he owned True East skatepark in Springfield.  Matt Bagley came on board a couple years in and he and I had started doing skate jams at the Chinatown Courts.  Devoe left and Armin Bachman came in shortly after.  Last year we added longtime dedicated employee and wippersnapper Ian Coughlan to the crew.

Broderick Gumpright

Wall ride photo credit: Xeno Tsarnas

How do you divide the shop duties?  Matt does the softgoods buying, Armin does a lot of the design and social media, Ian does hardgoods buying and I pay the bills.  We all pretty much work the store and come together to make it all go and put on events.

What are the biggest day to day challenges of running a store?  Keeping it all going in these times when people would rather buy stuff from someone they will never know on the internet than buy something in person.

When did you find veganism and what was your path to getting there? I became vegetarian in 1996 when some friends bet me that I couldn’t be vegetarian for a week.   We are more than labels but it was a big defining moment for me in my life.  I discovered that milk cows were often turned into hamburger when they slow their milk production so I became a vegan in 2000.  You just have to ask yourself what happens to the cows and chickens etc when they are no longer productive.

I immediately fell in with a bunch of people who were involved in Animal Rights.  I took on a very “hardcore” approach to it where most of the world was in the wrong and needed to be changed by all 10 of us.  I was arrested in NYC at a protest against Huntingdon Life Sciences and I was charged with some felonies and misdemeanors.  Some of the people I was arrested with went to prison over it. My charges were dropped which led some people to believe I had ratted.  That was not the case.    What happened is, I was filming the protest and what goes with it and I was stopped by the police. I passed off the camera and I think it was passed several times, but they got it in the end.  All the evidence they needed was on that camera.  If I could relive that day I would have run with everything I had in me.  People were calling it terrorism.  The police played good cop / bad cop….  “Are you a member of ALF?  We can help you if you talk.  What do you want to do with your life, it’s not this… You know the doorman had a heart attack and is dying in the hospital this is your fault.”  I told them to talk to my lawyer.  The police were liars and the whole thing was poorly planned looking back at it but we had good intentions.  Shortly  after, the apartment that I had just moved out of was ransacked by the FBI or police.    I think I was very idealistic and saw the world in black and white when in fact it’s shades of gray.  Those two things where my hint to get back to focusing on skateboarding and less on animal liberation.  I think people like Ingrid Newkirk and Rod Coronado and countless others are heroes for what they have done for animals but you have to ask yourself “Is this what I want to do?”  After going to jail it was a wake up call that I’d rather do something else.

Do you identify as straightedge or just as someone who doesn’t drink or do drugs?  I am proud to be Straight Edge!

Broderick Gumpright

Ollie photo credit: Andrew Miyagi

How did you come to that lifestyle and when? Two things:  I was at Woodward at 12 or 13 wearing an old crew shirt with crossed (boat) oars on it.  Some kid was like,” Hey are you straight A’s.”  I replied that I got A’s and B’s but not straight A’s.  “No straight edge… Do you drink or smoke or do drugs?”  No, I replied. I guess I am [straight edge].  He responded by saying straight edge was a bad thing and I didn’t want to be that.  I thought it didn’t sound so bad. [Laughs].

A couple years later I read about the Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ “Ska-Core the Devil and More,” in Transworld. I was sure that ska was short for skate so I went and bought it.  It had a cover by Minor Threat and Slapshot so I went and bought their stuff.  So that was 1993-94 and it’s pretty funny that a band that was pretty into drinking got me into straight edge…. I guess I was destined for it.

Favorite bands, current and past?   Youth of today, Minor Threat, Black Flag, Dead Kennedy’s, Slapshot, Descendants, Minutemen, Suicidal Tendencies, Op Ivy; All the great music from before my time. I started going to shows in the early 90’s.  Fugazi is one of the best bands of all time.  Dischord records.  I was really into Ten Yard Fight.  King Kahn does some great stuff, The Real Kids, Dirty Fences.  I love rock n roll in its many forms!

Explain your recent injuries and surgeries?    I tried to ollie a really big gap at 34 and folded my knee like a chair.  I hadn’t had any major knee problems but if you look at what I did it can be explained pretty easily.  It was a gravity overdose.  I had to get two knee surgeries and it took me around a year and a half to get back on my board.  I was at a pretty good level of skating that made me happy and then in a freak accident I fell on my wallet and broke my femur.  I had to get a titanium rod and a blood transfusion as the operation left me with anemia.  It’s a long road back but I’m doing my physical therapy and I am confident I’ll skate again.  For any readers out there if you get really hurt it’s okay to take pain killers. I’d advise you to not get addicted.

How many video parts have you put out and when was the last one?  Had a part in some VHS homie stuff in the early 90’s that may never see the light of day because it’s lost. I probably have about six parts out there.  The last one is in Stone Soup, which is an Orchard video.  I hope to get a couple more.

Favorite terrain to shred?  I like crusty bank stuff with a long roll out.

Favorite Boston area vegan eats?  Red Lentil, Veggie Galaxy, Dosa n’ Curry, Life Alive, Thai Bistro, and Wild Rice.

Are you active in the local animal rights community? Any causes close to your heart? I’m not active but I support the idea of it as I answered before. I think I burnt myself out on it.  I’m into recycling at the moment. If I was going to get active again I would rather convert people by creating good alternatives like a restaurant; Rather than thinking that burning down a building or locking oneself to a gate would change anything.

Any memories for the Hospital Banks?   I lived right next to them for a year and a half. One night I almost got arrested with Will Harmon for fixing a hole in the ground where some bricks were missing.  When I saw that they had drilled holes in the ground I got one last session and the next day there was a fence and it got torn down.  I think Baby Schizo was the last to skate it.  Adam Ayer local legend tells me that he witnessed Gonz and Tommy G both Ollie through the middle of the volcano which was quite a feet in the early 90’s or late 80’s.  Gonz recently denied that he ever did it.  Who knows.

With all the pros and artists that you deal with at the shop, who have you fanned out on the most?  We had Gonz here recently and that was a huge high-water mark for the shop.

Who were some of the most memorable art openings?  Having Dennis Mcnett here was really cool I think that was one of the best shows.   Jason Jessee was very cool to have and he was awesome.

Russ Pope did a show here with various artists to help me with my hospital bills.  That one had a big impact on my life so I would like to thank him for doing that.  We’ve had a couple shows with my lifelong friend Silas Finch who does really cool found object sculpture type stuff.

How did you come to having a mini ramp in the shop? We got the ramp around 5 years into our existence.  Converse paid for that and we offered it free to the community.

How did the new bowl come about?  That was Converse. They have been really awesome to the local skate community.  They fully funded it and it’s available free to the public any time we are open.  It’s way sicker than the mini-ramp and we love having it here.

What brands are you most psyched on carrying at the shop? Hopps. Jahmal is a legend and the design behind his stuff is great.  Coda – I skate for them and Pat Smith is awesome.  Theories of Atlantis (Traffic, Polar, Magenta, Theories) Quasi very rad.  Politic, Transportation Unit (Russ Pope’s company) Deluxe is always bringing something rad to skateboarding.

Is it hard to find vegan shoes? Do you stock many in the store?  Yes and no.  Pretty much every company out there makes a vegan shoe at some point.   We have a decent amount of vegan shoes here but just a regular canvas shoe doesn’t do it for me.  I need something that is a vegan cupsole which is kind of hard to find.

What shoes are you wearing lately?  Converse Canvas CTS with a Lunarlon insole which is crucial.

You seem to be doing consistently cool stuff with Converse. Tell us about some of those partnerships?  Converse has been awesome to us and the local skate community.  They’ve hooked up tons of kids, they funded a free indoor skatepark called pop allston, and they built our bowl.  In addition to that they’ve done the cons project which teaches kids to build skatboards, ramps, make a zine, build with concrete. I wish that kind of thing existed when I was a kid.  Converse moved their corporate headquarters to Boston and I think they are putting their money where their mouth is as a corporation.  They’ve done huge things for skateboarding around here.

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