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Now Open: Society Memphis Indoor Skatepark, Coffee Lounge, and Skate Shop

Featured photo: Jamie Harmon

Located at 583 Scott St in Binghampton, Society Memphis‘ 10,000-sq. ft. indoor skatepark will not only provide locals with a skating venue, but it will also feature a coffee shop and skateboard shop.

This unique space will serve as a safe haven for the community’s skaters. So, in order to better under the depth and purpose of this venue, Choose901 interviewed Society team member Mark Horrocks. Together with Matthew Wrage and Zac Roberts, to name a few, Mark established this one-of-a-kind indoor skatepark—and through his words, the mission for the park is crystal clear:

“We are essentially giving this ‘society’ a place to gather, build a stronger community and do what they love, 7-days a week.

Photo: @societymemphis via @august.visuals

Choose901: Who is on your team?

Mark Horrocks: There are two of us behind Society. Matthew Wrage, who also owns and operates a company called Citywood, and myself. In addition, Zac Roberts will own and operate Contact Skateboard Shop inside of Society.  

C901: How did Society Memphis get started?

MH: Matthew bought the building with the intention of moving Citywood to Midtown, but due to the utility upgrades needed, it did not make good business sense. At the time I was storing my vintage Airstream food truck in his warehouse, and he asked if I had any ideas for a creative use of his building. 
That same week, Aarron Shafer, local community organizer who led the city to fund Toby Skatepark, posted on Facebook about a skatepark up for sale in Atlanta. I checked it out and called Matthew. I asked him, “What do you think about buying a skatepark in Atlanta and bringing it back to Memphis to start an indoor skatepark with a coffeeshop?” I began to research and talk to skatepark owners all over the US. I also spoke with Josh Lowrey who owned and operated the Skate Park of Memphis (SPOM).
We wouldn’t be able to do what we are doing if it wasn’t for Josh and SPOM. Since he shut down SPOM in 2008, there has been a steady rise in the amount of people who skate. A few days later we were in Atlanta to start dismantling Hazard Skatepark and ship it back to Memphis on 5 tractor trailers.   

C901: Tell me a little bit about Society Memphis’ origins?

Photo: @societymemphis

MH: I look at Society Memphis as a safe-haven, a refuge, a place to build friendships – a family. Growing up I was always a “perimeter” kid – never fitting in, never the popular kid. The skate community caters to be those who push against mainstream society, but have a deep longing to belong, to be valued and accepted.   When we were tearing down Hazard Skate Park in Atlanta, we saw visible tears in the eyes of kids, teens and adults alike, as we were taking something that had incredible value. It wasn’t the ramps themselves that caused this catharsis, but the loss of a sense of “place.” The skate community holds some of the kindest and most gentle souls I have met. Despite how individual it is, it is not exclusive. We welcome the outsider, and this is what a Society is about. 

When coming up with a solid name and branding for a business, man, ideas came and went. I have been a community builder for 10 years, specifically as a non-profit director. Essentially, I looked at this concept as an opportunity to build community around an already thriving and growing community. The skate and BMX community is not the stereotypical punks, law breakers and vigilantes that they are often depicted to be. This is a community that has open arms for all to join, thrives on diversity as well as inclusion and views skateboarding as a way of life. To me, this is a “society” in itself. We are essentially giving this society a place to gather, build a stronger community and do what they love, 7-days a week.

C901: What sparked your idea for an indoor skatepark and why incorporate a coffee lounge and skate shop?

Photo: Keith Montgomery

MH: The coffee lounge is a secondary income for operations serves pour-over coffee, espresso drinks and offers an assortment of both food and drinks. You don’t have to skate or BMX to come here. It is for anyone that wants to hangout and drink great local and regional craft coffee, hop on WiFi, check out art from local artists or shop at the Contact Skateboard Shop, which is run by Zac Roberts. There’s a second floor lounge for parents to hang out and watch their kids skate. It’s also available for private parties and can serve as a unique meeting space for business teams, or local nonprofits.

The coffee culture has been steadily growing in Memphis for the last five years. When we were bouncing ideas around, one skate mom said, “We love Toby, but when I take my son, I have to stay there. I can’t leave.’ You’re telling me I can bring my kid to skate, enjoy a latte and head up to the second floor viewing lounge, pop open my laptop and watch my son skate – all in the comfort of air-conditioning and heat? Sign me up!”
We quickly realized we were on our way to a very unique and sought after Memphis skate location. Finally, every skatepark needs to have a skate shop inside of it. We were fortunate enough to meet Zac, who has been trying to find the perfect spot to open his own skate shop. Zac has been integral in helping get our space remodeled and building out the skatepark.

“You’re telling me I can bring my kid to skate, enjoy a latte and head up to the second floor viewing lounge, pop open my laptop and watch my son skate – all in the comfort of air-conditioning and heat? Sign me up!”

-Skate Mom

C901: Why did you all select the Broad Avenue area?

MH: We could not have found a better location. It is in Midtown and a quick 20-minute drive to any of the suburbs. This makes it the perfect location for us. We are stoked to operate in the Broad Avenue Arts District and join many entrepreneurs who have been a part of revitalizing this area over the past few years.

C901: What is your main goal for this skatepark?

MH: Our main goal is to create a sustainable business model that will build community, create skate opportunity and play a role in the continued effort to make Memphis an awesome place to live and visit.

Society is a 10,000-sq.ft. skatepark with 2000-sqft skate shop and coffee bar. The skatepark has ramps and obstacles for all abilities. We will be evolving and changing the park as time goes on. We also have a 10’-vert ramp halfpipe that is 32′ wide and 32’ long. Very few skateparks have a vert ramp this size. We will be on a short list of private skateparks in America that will have this size of vert ramp.

Skaters and BMXers will pay per session. We offer half day, full day or monthly memberships. Scooters will be allowed, but only those who have Pro Scooters. Every person who wants to ride at the park will have to sign a waiver, or their parents will, in order to ride at Society.

C901: What are your plans for the future?

MH: We plan to offer a summer skate camp for four weeks. This camp will be for beginners to advanced skaters. On Saturday mornings we’ll have a private group for ‘learn to skate’ lessons. In addition, Society will have competitions throughout the year. Currently, we are talking about hosting a Pro-Am event that will bring in some of the country’s top skaters. 

Another large portion of our vision is to showcase art and music. In order to cater to this, Society has intentional, specified areas for local, regional and national artists to display murals and artwork. These art spaces will be scattered throughout the park.

The coffee shop will highlight the live-edge woodwork of my business partner Matthew. This showcase will serve as a “working showroom.” Society will also have wall space available for local artists to display work on rotation.

Every weekend we plan to have live DJs and plan to host a couple of concerts a month. Specifically, these shows will cater to the following genres, and more: Punk, Ska, Groove, Reggae, Hip-Hop, etc. When school is out, we will offer day camps.

Society’s hours are 8AM-10PM Monday-Thursday, 8AM-9PM on Friday, 8AM-10PM on Saturdays, and 12PM-10PM on Sundats.

BMX nights will be allowed on Thursdays and Sundays.

Follow Society Memphis on their Facebook page and Instagram feed for updates.

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