Pop Love-It Skate Shop, Auburn’s only skate and longboard shop, is closing after 10 years of business.
According to Pop Love-It owner Josh Loveland, the shop served the Auburn-Opelika area as the primary source of skating equipment for nine years. Boneyard Skateshop opened in Opelika in 2020. Loveland said that before Boneyard opened up, the closest skate shop alternative was either in Columbus or Montgomery.
Loveland said that Pop Love-It was unique in the fact that it focused more on longboard parts. Longboard items are a niche market that, according to Loveland, are needed in the Auburn community. Loveland said that the reception from Auburn’s longboarding community proved him right.
“[Pop Love-It] was one of the few [skate shops] in the whole state that had specialty parts for longboards,” Loveland said.
Loveland said he became interested in longboarding after starting college at Auburn University in 2008. During his time at Auburn, he met a community of people who love to skate and longboard.
“I was meeting a lot of other people who were skating as well, and there was a common theme or trend in most of those conversations,” Loveland said. “A lot of people would say [they] wished there was a skate park, or at least a skate shop. I started to think, ‘I definitely can’t build a skate park, but I can probably open up a small skate shop.’”
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Loveland, after seeing the need for a skate shop in the Auburn-Opelika area, ceased taking classes at the University and opened Pop Love-It in November 2010.
Loveland said that the number of people longboarding and skateboarding has slightly increased since he attended school at Auburn in 2008. He has seen an increase in skating since Auburn’s first skate park opened in January 2020.
Despite the increased number of skaters in the Auburn area, Loveland said he has debated closing the shop for the last two years. He finally decided to close the shop at the beginning of this year after his wife found out she was pregnant. Loveland and his wife decided he would assume the role of primary caretaker for his infant daughter, which would leave him very little time for the shop.
Loveland’s decision to close also came after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Loveland said that the pandemic did not decrease his sales, but in fact, might have slightly boosted them. Loveland said that with more free time caused by the pandemic, many people started skating.
“It was the right time for me to close, personally, with our daughter coming, but the [coronavirus] was really kind of a strange two-edged sword,” Loveland said. “It was a weird, good and bad thing. It made [business] more challenging, but I found that everyone wanted a skateboard because they had more free time on their hands.”
Although skateboards were more in demand, Loveland said getting inventory was more difficult because many skateboard parts are manufactured in China and were not available. Not being able to get more inventory made it easier for Loveland to close the shop because he would sell existing items and not order more inventory.
Loveland said that although it was the right time for him to close Pop Love-It, he will always remember the skate shop fondly and will especially miss the sense of community he found through the shop.
“I was so blessed by the experience, by the people [and] most of all by the relationships and conversations,” Loveland said.
Loveland especially remembers a few certain customers that started visiting the shop when it first opened, when they were children. They continued visiting the shop over the years and into adulthood. Loveland said that it was a blessing to watch these kids grow into adults and to get to know them.
Loveland said that although he does not believe he will reopen Pop Love-It in the future, he hopes someone else will open a skate shop in Auburn.
“Although there is Boneyard in Opelika, I think Auburn really does need [a skate shop],” Loveland said.
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