Alan “Ollie” Gelfand invented a skateboarding trick called the ollie in the late 1970s. An ollie is a trick that is a fundamental part of skateboarding if you’d like to jump over or onto anything and it is also the basic part of most flip tricks. The ollie is a combination of popping the board off the ground while sliding a foot forward, which lifts the board and the rider up off the ground together.
There is a new skate shop in Keene that has been drumming up quite a diverse crowd of shoppers and it is also called Ollie.
Ollie opened the shop at 16 Cypress Street in May of this year. Shalem Bencivenga, the owner, said he not only named the shop after this fundamental skateboarding trick, but he named it Ollie as a tribute to his dear friend, Ollie Kenyon, who passed away. Kenyon and Bencivenga grew up together in Keene and enjoyed skateboarding, drawing and listening to music together.
Bencivenga has been skateboarding ever since he was nine years old. “I grew up street skating in Keene before there was a skatepark. I still love to skate but definitely not the tricks I used to do,” Bencivenga said.
His drive for opening a new skate shop was not only his love of skateboarding, but he noticed that Keene no longer had a shop devoted to skateboarding. “When I realized Keene didn’t have a skate shop since 2nd Wind Sports closed a couple years ago, I knew I wanted to open my own shop,” Bencivenga said. “Greg Crisp, former owner of 2nd Wind, was extremely helpful and supportive of me opening the shop.” Crisp even sold him some of his old display cabinets to help get him started.
His shop also happens to be in a great location for skateboarders spending time at the Keene Skatepark as it is just a hop, skip and a jump over to Gilbo Avenue, where the park is located.
Not only is Bencivenga owner of Ollie, he owns a barbershop in Keene as well, called Barbery. He opened the Barbery in 2015 under The Colonial Theatre on Main Street but was forced to change locations when the Colonial started doing a major renovation. The new location on 16 Cypress Street was much larger than the one tucked under the Colonial and it was just the right amount of space to be able to implement a skate shop, too. So, he now has both businesses under one roof.
Skateboarding has been around since the 1940s and ‘50s and can be a sport for anyone and everyone to enjoy. “There are no rules in skateboarding. It can be whatever you want it to be. That lack of structure always felt really freeing. It can be just as fun to skate by yourself or with a group of friends, or even other skaters who you’ve never met before,” Bencivenga explained. “No one can say you are doing it wrong. It can be relaxing, exciting, challenging, rewarding, frustrating, silly ... whatever mood you are in, you can express it through skating.”
Ollie carries everything anyone would need for skateboarding. Whether you are just a beginner or a professional skateboarder. This includes all major and local brands. Anything from skateboards, longboards, cruisers, skate shoes and clothing, helmets and pads to all the components needed, you can find it right at Ollie.
“It’s a great feeling to know that through skateboarding you are connected to a set of experiences that are shared by millions across the world. It doesn’t matter your age, gender or beliefs, skating unites everyone,” Benchivenga said.
“One more thing, Eric Hongisto is the best skater ever from Keene,” he added.
Ollie is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information you can check them out on Instagram or Facebook “olliekeenenh” or give them a call at (603) 499-6666.