Jack Boyd and Ben Olson– Damage Boardshop
Remember the unbridled joy that came along with doing all those things you were into as a teenager? Skiing, skateboarding, playing in a band, dressing cool, having fun...
Can you imagine centering your daily life around any of those things, now? Well, Jack Boyd and Ben Olson can, because they turned their love of all things 'boarding into a business: Damage Boardshop in Lincoln Park.
It’s a feast of color and cool. Skateboards, clothes, shoes, snowboards (including one covered in the image of a bounty of My Little Ponies) and other related paraphernalia cover the walls and fill racks and displays, forming a buzzing sea of aesthetic energy. The focus is more specific, obviously, but it’s otherwise a bit like Dunham’s on acid.
Boyd and Olson were childhood friends. After a number of years and miles separated them, they reconnected in high school through their mutual love of skateboarding. Eventually, they both decided to relocate to Duluth.
“Coming to Duluth, we were on the same page,” said Jack, “it’s one of the raddest cities.”
The dream of opening their own store in the community soon took seed.
“We were working for another retailer in town,” said Boyd, “we left to do our own thing, to get the community more involved.”
Damage Boardshop opened for business in May of 2005, after a “solid year” of preparation.
As avid skate- and snowboarders, the two put in 60-70 hour work weeks, but still squeeze in time to partake in their beloved activities. It’s what keeps them in tune with their customers.
“We’ve done it our whole lives… we’re out with our customers doing it,” Ben explained.
“It’s not just a pastime to us,” furthered Jack, “our customers are people we’re riding the chairlifts with."
Damage isn’t the only board shop in town, but what sets them apart, Boyd and Olson proclaim, is their connection with other skaters and boarders, and their approach to business.
“We’re known for events… contests, parties… we had “Beers With Bjorn” [Leines, pro-snowboarder] recently.”
They’re oustanding spokesmen for their activities, but Jack and Ben are two guys who will happily sing the praises of their adopted community, as well.
“It’s unique. You can’t go anywhere else in the state and find a place like it… The North Shore, Lutsen, Canal Park, the Lake… pop on the freeway and it’s ten minutes to a park… it’s just fun,” said Ben.
“There’s a good network of creative people here,” added Jack, “Our friends do our website… it’s a great community– anything you need or are interested in, it’s here.”
After a chat about the impediments some people find to planting roots in the Duluth- Superior area, or considering a move here in the first place, the two have some thoughts on the matter:
“You’ve gotta come here and let people know you’re looking for stuff… If you do come, you’ve got to look around,” Jack asserts.
“We see college kids come here to go to school, but they’re also coming here to snowboard,” furthers Ben.
Grinding down the steep, perilous rail to success, Boyd and Olson admit, they’ve faced plenty of challenges, but they have personal goals in mind for the future. Some are small, pointed things, like becoming prosperous enough to “go out to eat without worrying about the bill.“ Others, according to Olson, are big-picture stuff:
“We want to stay with [the business], keep it going, keep growing, keep people happy, and keep our customers satisified.”
What’s at the core of their efforts is the passion of two young entrepreneurs fueled by the kind of energy that drives any challenging but successful venture.
“We’re here. We love our jobs. We love what we do,” says Ben Olson. “Our jobs
Jack Boyd and Ben Olson
Ages: 33 and 30, respectively
Family: Jack– Son Nick, 9, and daughter Jettsi, “two and three-quarters”. Jack also has two brothers and one sister, He was raised by his late mom, who cared for him as a single parent. Ben– An only child who, like his buddy Jack, was raised by his mom.
Boomerang, Transplant, or Lifer: Transplants, both.
Hometown: Jack and Ben both grew up in the area of Fergus Falls, MN.
Their Definitions of “Success”: Ben: “Having fun.” Jack: “Making someone laugh in a way in which milk comes out of their nose.”
Nightmare Job: Ben: “Washing dishes.” Jack: “Something monotonous, like telemarketing.”
Favorite Places to Eat: Jack: Coney Island on Superior Street. He orders the #6. “It’s our dad and daughter joint. We go there every payday.” Ben: Jim’s Hamburgers, for breakfast. Or the Hacienda for margaritas. Or Pizza Luce.
How they Recreate: Snowboarding, skateboarding, getting out on the town. Favorite Nightlife Spot/Activity: “My go-to place is Carmody’s,” says Jack. Ben furthers, “Lots of spots… Our whole crew goes out together.”
Favorite Secret Honey Hole: Ben: Parks, Enger Tower, up the shore. Jack: Likes to hit the Marine Museum when family’s in town.
Shovel or Snowblower? Jack: Shovel. Ben: Shovel. “We can’t afford a snowblower!”
Favorite Local News Personality: “George Kessler! Kessler’s the man!” “Everything we do revolves around the weather,” the guys explain. They note running into meteorologist Kessler in public, and his gracious willingness to sit down and give them a one-on-two report on the upcoming weather.
Favorite Breakfast Cereal: Jack: “I wish they still made Kaboom, but I’ll settle for Cinnamon Toast Crunch.” Ben’s not a breakfast person, generally, but he does admit to having Cocoa Puffs, Golden Grahams, and Honey Nut Cheerios in his kitchen cabinet.
If They Could Have Any Superpower, They Would Choose: Jack: “I’d take flying, probably.” Ben: “I’m down with some flying– no more gas money!"
Check out Damage Boardshop's home on the web.