New Ownership at Commonwealth Skateboarding Adds a Bar and Even More Community to the Southeast Spot

The skate shop is also hosting punk shows, trivia nights, and additional live events.

Commonwealth Skateboarding (Commonwealth Skateboarding)

When Colin Sharp first decided to buy some shares in Commonwealth Skateboarding, the indoor skatepark on Southeast 20th Avenue just a quick railslide off Hawthorne Boulevard, his wife was less than thrilled.

“She’s like, ‘That’d be the dumbest thing you ever did,’” Sharp, 52, remembers, sitting in front of a display of skateboards. “‘That’s not an investment. That’s a passion thing.’”

That was precisely the point. Since hopping on his first skateboard—a Ray Rodriguez model Powell-Peralta deck—in the early ‘80s, Sharp’s been hooked on the sport, riding as much as he could and even starting his own company, Bacon Skateboards. And since it opened in 2011, Commonwealth Skateboarding has been his spot. So it only made sense, when previous owner Matt Collins was looking to get out of the business in 2023, Sharp would be the one to take over.

“We live in the neighborhood,” Sharp says, “and we brought our whole crew here. My son, who’s now 18, and all his friends would come and skate here. Basically, [we], as a family, funded this place over time.”

Sharp is even more directly invested in the spot now, looking to turn Commonwealth from its previous incarnation as a place for kids to wait out rainy weather and spend a few bucks between skate runs into a thriving destination for all ages. So in addition to bringing in a new inventory of decks, apparel and gear, he grabbed a liquor license and set up The Deep End, a micro bar where grown-ups can sip beer, sake and wine. It may just be a recessed area in the back of Commonwealth’s main retail space with a few barstools, but there’s plenty of standing room to watch the skating action and gab with your crew.

“When I would skate,” Sharp says, “we’d all go over to a friend’s house and everybody would be sitting there in the backyard, drinking a couple of beers and talking about how awesome they were. I’m like, ‘How do I bring that here?’”

More than simply giving grown-up skaters a chance to bend an elbow when they’re not zipping around the park, Sharp hopes Commonwealth can become as important a hub for culture and community for the residents of the Hawthorne District and Ladd’s Addition as the nearby Cinemagic Theater. To that end, he’s partnered with concert promoters Mallbrawlreds to host punk shows in the skatepark and is offering skate trivia nights for the true scholars of the sport. And later this month, he’ll hold a pair of events with Skate Like a Girl, a nonprofit that empowers young women to pursue skateboarding as a hobby or full-time obsession.

The work that Sharp and his team have put into Commonwealth certainly seems to be reaping rewards. On my first visit, young skaters popped in frequently to grab a new deck or tune up their existing board. And when I returned the next week to catch a performance by Swedish noise-pop artist Weatherday, the entire building was teeming with people, including a nice dad sipping a beer at the bar while his kid bopped around to the music.

“I’m in this neighborhood,” Sharp says. “I know everyone here because I’ve been in this block for 10 years. Everyone’s just thrilled that we’re bringing some energy to this area. And I’ve had more tourists in the last two months than I did last summer. They’re like, ‘Burnside and Commonwealth are the two spots that we want to check out. We’ve heard a lot about you.’ I was like, damn, I’ll take it.”

GO: Commonwealth Skateboarding, 1425 SE 20th Ave., 503-208-2080, 11 am–8 pm Monday–Wednesday, 11 am–10 pm Thursday–Friday, 10 am-10-pm Saturday, 10 am–5 pm Sunday.

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