Blacklist Boardshop: 86ing Mainstream Culture


By Brady Smith

86ers: A self-proclaimed title of the growing counterculture that lingers at the underbelly of the largely conservative super culture and is proudly stamped on skateboards, t-shirts, street signs, and windows of the Greeley area. Where does this all come from? How did this subverted definition of what it means to be young in Greeley come about?

Nate Giska may be reluctant to accept the role as the catalyst for this local movement, but when he saw the lack of representation for everything that he loves – skate and snow culture in particular – in the Greeley area, he accepted the responsibility to open up the Greeley staple skate and snowboard store, BLACKLIST, or Blacklist Boardshop.

Blacklist Boardshop started in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, where Nate grew up. Nate and his brother Ben were embedded in the culture of Lawrenceburg’s skate community, and the shop gave them the opportunity to explore the skate and snow industry from the merchant’s perspective.

When they began their own clothing line, Concussed, in 2003, Ben did all the creative design. The owner of BLACKLIST, Joe Hughes, must have seen the brothers’ creative potential, as he soon let them take over all of the creative aspects (t-shirt design, advertising, etc.) for his shop.

When Nate came to Greeley for college and in pursuit of his passion of snowboarding in 2006, he found there was no way for the snowboarding and skiing community to connect with students who shared his love for the mountains. In an attempt to find students who were experiencing the struggle of being infatuated with the mountains in a location that’s so far away –the two hour drive and rising gas prices make taking the drive by yourself not only exhausting, but expensive – Nate started up Northern Colorado Riders, UNC’s ski and snowboard club.

Running the club was a full time activity, and the Greeley community didn’t necessarily provide a nurturing environment.

“When we ran our events, we needed a shop that supported what we were doing and there wasn’t one in town. Not to mention [that] there wasn’t one that carried any of the brands that we wanted to sponsor our events.”

Nate used NCR as a building block to bring the muddling skate and snow culture together. Soon after, with Joe and Ben’s help, he gave the skaters and boarders a shop that they could rally around in April of 2009.

BLACKLIST competes with two large corporate companies that attempt to be copacetic with the small culture revolving around skating and snowboarding in Greeley. Nate distinguishes himself from these corporate giants by introducing what he thought was cool and stylish but very unknown to Greeley two years ago.

“We’ve influenced brand preferences” says Nate about bringing companies like Nomis, 10.DEEP, Celtek, Rome, and Grenade to the foreground in Greeley.
“[We’ve] introduced a collection of brands that are doing good things for the scene.”

These brands, along with the Blacklist Boardshop namesake and popular New Era/BLACKLIST collaboration “86” hats, have become symbols of not only riders, but also the counterculture lifestyle.

“People know us for being out at the bars having fun or being up in the mountains having fun. We’re not afraid to leave it out there as to what we’re into.”
As a matter of fact, Nate’s company pulls crowds into downtown Greeley regularly.

Working closely with bar and club owners downtown, Nate has organized several events, such as a Steamworks Brewing’s 86er Ale Release Party, several condo trips, and a Blacklist Boardshop party thrown at SKY nightclub where Nate also DJ’d (one of his many hidden talents) and then gave out free snowboards to top off the night.

“We also do barbecues and daytrips to the mountains for all the high schoolers around town too.”

Nate considers this younger generation of riders to be cooler than he was, and he respects their views and influence on the direction of the cultural movement.
“We try and balance being a college shop while catering to the high school community.”

Nate balances this separation fluidly as he builds an important rapport with the younger crowd while continuing to impress the college-aged crowd.

Nate’s representation in the community is nothing but positive. He has not only helped UNC establish a legitimate ski and snow club, but he has also opened up a can of lifestyle and cultural statements that are beginning to form the identity of Greeley’s subculture.

“We’ve given everybody something to relate to with the BLACKLIST title. Whether you’re getting kicked out of a circle of friends, getting kicked out of the bar, or getting kicked out of your marriage, you’ve gained an understanding of what it means to be blacklisted or 86ed.”

And this is the brand, culture, and experience that Nate proudly embraces and offers as an alternative to the conventional in Greeley.

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