Local skaters land ownership role
In what has quickly become an up-springing of a variety of new businesses downtown; an experience-driven skate shop can now be crossed off the list.
Aby55 opened its doors last Saturday, inviting residents to take a look inside the renovated space at 328 W. Main St. Located right in the heart of downtown Merced, the shop is a uniquely crafted space operated by Trevor Peeples, Alex Laigo and Ramon Alcaraz.
“I make the joke of ‘I don’t know how they convinced me to do this,’ but it’s really completely the opposite,” Peeples explained.
The partners previously worked at Zumiez, a retail store that sells clothing, footwear, and gear with heavy influences in sports wear including skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing, motocross, etc.
“I felt unhappy with my career,” he continued. “Really, we just got to thinking like man — We need to do something.”
That is when the idea of Aby55 was born, although the project was unnamed at the time and there was no clear image of what exactly the team wanted to sell.
Being able to work for themselves was a primary goal the trio wanted to fulfill. To them, there could be nothing more fulfilling than being able to control the interest and space they worked at.
“We both came from a different part of that retail store and already knew this industry well, so we knew it was perfect,” Peeples continued as he explained the early beginnings of Aby55 when only he and Laigo were involved in the project. “Really it was just about starting something for ourselves. And we knew we wanted to be a part of the growth that was happening on Main Street.”
Starting a skate shop came naturally to the trio. It was a culture that all three of them were heavily involved in.
“We skate, all of our friends skate,” Peeples elaborated. “We are in this community. The city we live in has two skate parks. We have the UC, plenty of skate spots, and there hasn’t been a skate shop for ten plus years. We knew we had to do this, it was a no brainer. We had to do our own thing. Ramon is probably the best skater out of the bunch of us. I’ve skated since I was in first grade, it’s just one of those things. It’s been a part of my life in some way or another.”
White, brown, red, and green shirts sit on two racks in the middle of the shop. Screen-printed by the team and designed by Alcaraz are one of the staples of the store. A wall full of skateboard decks align one wall of the shop. Skateboarding magazines sit side by side along a glass counter that houses skateboard accessories and wheels. A workstation sits at the end of the shop, ready to help customers with board assembly.
Aby55 is a spin on the term “Abyss.” The number 55 is a symbol of change, living in the present, and a form of opportunity.
“To me it’s a symbol of freedom and independence,” Laigo explained of the name. “We’re making something here… 55 is our independence. It’s us. But it can also be redefined by anyone who comes in here.”
“It honestly didn’t hit me until recently, like this is really happening,” Alcaraz said. “I think back to me being a little skater kid, just starting out and I’m like, imagine me telling myself that this would happen.”
Alcaraz is 21 and the youngest of the trio and is ecstatic to see his artwork on the stores merchandise.
“The first time we printed something that was mine, it was super simple just a little lantern, and I was like, ‘Bro my stuff is on a shirt!’ I was freaking out the whole day, I was telling everyone, ‘I made this, I made this!’ It was exciting and feels good using my art for something.”
More merchandise, clothes, and accessories are planned to fill the store as it continues to grow. The group also hopes to become a staple of the community and give back to the residents that have supported them from the beginning.
“This is just the start,” Laigo finished.
The team would like to thank Bob Thor, Nacho, Ariel, Freddy, their parents, and the community for their continuous support.
The skate shop is open seven days a week from 11AM – 7PM. You can follow them on Instagram @aby55skateshop for more content and for any updates on the shop.