THE FIRST EVER SKATE SHOP IN NEPAL : HAMRO SKATE SHOP
It is not an uncommon sight to see someone with a skate board in their hands, or simply cruising down the road with one these days. As the years have gone by, more and more people are into this trend. And for this, it’s not the Tony Hawk games we played in our childhood we have to thank; it’s a humble man that goes by the name of Ujwol Dangol. Despite his young age, Mr. Dangol has been a prominent and, dare we say, a pioneer for skateboarding in Nepal. With a skate shop and a park, he has been introducing people to the culture and honing the skills of skaters. We caught up with him to know the story behind Hamro Skate Shop and Kathmandu Skate Park.
“ I LIKE TO
SKATE SHOP AS
A JUNCTION FOR
WHO NOT ONLY
COME TO GET
BUT ALSO WHERE
SKATERS ARE BORN”
WHAT IS HAMRO SKATE SHOP?
In essence, I like to introduce Hamro Skate Shop as a junction for skate enthusiasts who not only come to get their products, but also where skaters are born. So in this way, it is an important place for the entire skate scene in Nepal. And for me, it’s the place where I have invested all of my sweat and dedication in. And Hamro meaning our’s, the shop is everyone’s. A lot of our customers come by to help out in managing the store, organizing the inventory, and volunteering during events. So the shop for us is like a binding force that unites us like a family.
AND KATHMANDU SKATE PARK?
It’s a place of haven for anyone who wants to skate. There is no discrimination here; no difference in economic background, not caste; everyone sees you as a skater. You can come in to skate, or just spectate; it’s a place for you to grow in this art form.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO SKATEBOARDING?
Back in 2008 when I was still in school, Thamel would be en route when I was on my way home. Now, back then, the roads were pretty vacant, and one faithful day, I saw a Japanese tourist cruising on his skateboard. I did know what roller blades were, but not boards. So that was really fascinating to me, and it just kindled my love affair with skateboarding.
HOW DID YOU START HAMRO SKATE SHOP?
After my interest with skateboards became apparent, a brother of mine got me my first ever skateboard. With all due respect, it was a cheapo, however. Then again, I learned to ride it. And after SLC, I got to spend more time with it and came to learn some tricks. Eventually, I was going to sport shops in Ranjana Galli, and skate around Rangasala. And in this process, I got to meet other enthusiasts.
The group was growing now. But the issue was that the boards we were using were not of quality. Furthermore, to get boards or parts of quality too was next to impossible. But we skated on anyways.
Then in 2014, I went to Thailand for 3 months, and there, I was really impressed with the skate shops they had. And in this state of awe, it hit me, why don’t I open one in Nepal? And so I did.
DID YOU GO THERE WITH THE OBJECTIVE TO LOOK UP SKATE SHOPS?
The thing is that on the 21st of June every year Go Skateboarding Day is celebrated. So in 2013, we had a Facebook page called Nepal Skate Club where we posted an event for all skaters to come together and jam up. The posts got so viral that it reached a guy in Thailand, and he coincidently happened to be friends with another guy here in Nepal. And in this manner, we made contact and became friends.
So, the guy got around to coming over here and when he did, he revolutionized everything. See, he was actually a pro skater, and for a bunch of guys who had just been fooling around, he was a game changer. And not only did he teach us how to skate, he had also brought in branded boards for us.
We two hit it off gradually and became friends. So come 2014, I was visiting him there, and just traveling around in general. And then I came across skate shops and you know the rest.
WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED?
We started this only after completing all the legal formalities. But when we did go to the offices, they wanted to know what category they should put us in. We explained to them that we are is a business that supplies quality skateboards and parts to encourage skateboarding culture. To this, they were like, “Oh okay. So toys.” Needless to say that we weren’t take seriously.
Secondly, we had issues to gather the capital. There’s no denying that the rent in Kathmandu is high. So we opened up in the ground floor of my house. But to be able to stick our banner, I had to do a lot of convincing. My parents were against this and wanted me to study and go abroad. But after much buttering, they fell in and I began my career. And when the shutters went up, people came in and business went on strong. And here we are today, still going strong.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS?
The one I’m most proud of is the opportunity of representing Nepal in an international scale. The International Skateboard Federation keeps a representative in every country, and I am one of them from Nepal. And during the Asian Games, for skateboarding, I am responsible of putting together a team to participate. Just being recognized for what I have been actively doing for the past 10 years is really epic.
YOU’RE ALSO HELPING KIDS. HOW DID YOU COME INTO DOING THIS?
A lot of kids want to skate. But they can’t afford the boards. So I try to cut off our own finances and provide them with boards. Same goes for shoes and other gears they may need to start out. But they can’t just simply start out. So we teach them the theories, and motivate them; not only to skate but to live a fulfilling life as well.
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
As any good business, I want to grow. We have been putting together events and competitions, and we want to do more of those. And for that, we’ll need more skate parks. So that’s in the pipeline as well. We have also partnered with a few schools to teach kids how to skate, and I would love to work with more schools. Hence in this manner, I want to root the skateboarding culture in Nepal and make more people a part of it.
WORDS : NIRVEEK PPJ SHAH | PHOTOS : GAURAV XHOMPATE SUNUWAR