Black Diamond Owner Carves Out Main Street Niche
Black Diamond Skate Shop, a popular store for skateboarding enthusiasts, opened this spring after losing its lease at the Moorestown Mall.
Seven years ago, Dan McCollister traded in the wheels of trucks for the ball bearings of skateboards, and decided to turn a childhood hobby into a lucrative business.
"From the age of 12, I did the grunt work, like picking up trash and helping out around the yard,” says McCollister, 38, on working for his family’s business, McCollister's Transportation Group, for 10 years, and the place where he honed his entrepreneurial skills.
McCollister left the family business in 2005 and opened Black Diamond Mountain Sports in Larchmont Commons in Mount Laurel, selling skateboard equipment and clothes, as well as merchandise for other extreme sports like skiing, skating, biking, surfing and climbing.
“I wanted to offer a market that I didn’t see in the area,” says the Southampton resident.
By 2006, Vans, the clothing and sneaker company, was looking to exit its operation of an indoor skatepark at the Moorestown Mall. McCollister bought it, renamed it Black Diamond Skatepark, and continued providing a safe haven for board enthusiasts to roll and romp.
But this spring, the ever-popular indoor park was shuttered.
With the legalization of liquor last year in Moorestown, PREIT (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust), owners of the mall, decided to rebrand the mall and are planning to add new restaurants and expand the movie theater.
McCollister’s store, which he opened this spring, is a step inside the cult of skateboarding: trendy skinny jeans, oversized T-shirts, cool sneakers and shelves of colorfully designed boards—one with a demure Hello Kitty, another with the come-hither look of a pinup gal.
One of the Garden State’s most sought-after pro skaters, Ishod Wair, of Hamilton, a Real Skateboards Pro, has his boards hanging in the store.
McCollister says mostly guys—usually between 13 and 25—flock to the store, but the occasional girl will come and buy a board, tracks and wheels, and be willing to defy gravity.
“Young people really enjoy the thrill of skateboarding. And it’s a sport that picks up all types of kids: some play soccer, lacrosse or football during the year,” says McCollister.
These days, McCollister owns three other stores besides the Moorestown outlet: a store in Brant Beach, NJ, and skateparks at the Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia and at the Discover Mills Mall in Atlanta, GA.
During the winter season, McCollister peddles a supply of snowboarding gear and winter clothing, plus rents skis for kids and adults.
With a sport that has devotees launching into the air and energetically slamming into lip rails, the married father of three cautions safety first.
“Can you get injured? Sure. It’s just like any other contact sport,” says McCollister. “You have to take precautions.”
He adds: “It’s an enjoyable sport; plus it gets you where you need to go.”
Moorestown still has an outdoor park, the David Gentile Skatepark, which is located at Wesley Bishop North. The park was closed in April for repairs, and McCollister had spoken to township officials about ways to help.
For more information visit Black Diamond's website.