We had the good fortune of connecting with Mark (Skater Claus) Condit and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mark (Skater Claus), how does your business help the community or world?
Skater Claus is currently an LLC, but that’s because it’s much cheaper, easier, & faster to establish an LLC than a 501c3 (in that process now). I sell merchandise on etsy.com/shop/SkaterClaus but all the profit goes to giving kids in need skateboards & protective gear, so it’s more like a charity. While some of the boards & gear I give away come from the profit of my Etsy sales, most of what I get is donated by generous individuals. I get donations from people from all walks of life, but the majority of the donations come from the skate community. They want to give back & help the sport/culture grow. I help the community by giving skateboards to kids in foster care & in low income neighborhoods. Most of these kids have almost nothing, but if you have a skateboard you can use your imagination to turn the urban landscape into your playground. Every year I do at least 1 big board giveaway in a low income hood in Atlanta, & not only do we give boards away, we grill out & feed the people, we teach the kids the basics of skating, & we have skaters that come & do tricks to get the kids hyped about skateboarding. If you really wanna know what I’m all about checkout the Skater Claus Trestle Tree video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1axNoe0Wpns), which was last years big event. There are a lot of ways to help the community, & I like to think of myself as the boots on the ground. I go to the places that need help, & try to create positive social change through skateboarding. Just Google Skater Claus or go to SkaterClaus.org to see what I’m about.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What sets Skater Claus apart is that I can reach out to the skate community in an authentic way, & I’m not opposed to being the boots on the ground in ATL. I think that if you really wanna make a positive impact on a community you have to know the community inside & out, spend time there, & make connections within that community. I have been skating over 30 years & am lucky enough to have a lot of contacts in the industry. Especially with companies in the South because we all support each other down my way. I have the connection to the skate community, but I also have a connection with the ATL community… especially the low income neighborhoods. For a while I would get upset with folk, because they would talk about social programs to help those in need but lived in gated communities to segregate themselves from the folks they supposedly wanted to help. What I’ve come to realize is there are a lot of different roles to play when it comes to helping those in need. I don’t want my mama at her age going to some of the hoods I do to try & help them out in the way I do. I realized we need people in different roles. To give, donate time, effort, money, expertise. We need people that will be the boots on the ground & go to those hoods that most need our help, & develop relationships. Most importantly, we need to have this basic understanding so we can set up effective organizations. What makes Skater Claus special is I’ve learned this formula over time, & have a playbook that is constantly being improved. It hasn’t been easy, but a lot of fun. My dream is to have multiple people, in multiple cities, taking my playbook & doing the same thing. Whether it’s with skateboards, bikes, roller skates, surfboards, or whatever else motivates kids to get off the couch & try to better themselves through individual sports activities. Team sports are great, but not an option for many kids. Even if they are, they only take up so much time of the week. If you have a skateboard & can escape into your own urban playground, I think you’re probably less likely to get into trouble.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I LOVE where I live! It’s a hood in ATL called Edgewood, near the corner of Moreland & Memorial. There are 3 dope areas with great food & entertainment right near me, Little 5 Points, East Atlanta Village, & Old Fourth Ward (specifically Edgewood Ave). I would take a friend to each area a different night for food & nightlife. Food: Little 5 Points I say you gotta go to Fox Bros. BBQ. East Atlanta Village has a ton of good food, but I love the Belgium style fries at the Flat Iron. Old Fourth Ward we always go to Noni’s, great Italian joint. Hangouts: Little 5 Points The Porter, The Corner Tavern (great roof deck), Brewhouse (nice patio, great french fries, soccer bar if that’s your thing). East Atlanta Village The Basement, The Earl, The 529… you can walk around an area of a few blocks & there are like 100 cool bars/clubs. Edgewood Ave/Old Fourth Ward Joystick Gamebar (awesome bar with a ton of old school stand up video game consoles, board games, & they have game tournaments for any nerdy obsession you could possibly have Magic: The Gathering, DnD, Setters of Catan, etc.), The Music Room, Church. Other stuff: The Belt Line is fun to walk with lots of cool art & also the Old Fourth Ward skatepark is right off the Belt Line. I could name a lot of skateparks but other than O4W I’ll just recommend Joyland, Stone Mountain is a cool outdoors thing to do, The Clermont Lounge (you can’t really explain what the lounge is, but if you go to ATL you have to go there), a lot of really cool graffiti spots & places for urban exploration… I can’t give up all the secret spots, but definitely Krog St. tunnel where it is sanctioned to paint & there are constantly photo shoots going on & hip hop videos being shot.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I wanna shout out all my family & friends (all of which I consider family). I’m blessed to have a lot of amazing people in my life. If there is 1 person that really set me on this path it was my dad. He was my hero, & we spent a lot of time together, had a lot of fun, & he taught me a lot. He was an extremely generous man, & loved nothing more than giving gifts. Anytime I stopped playing with a toy for a while, he would find a kid to give it to. We lived in a working class community where a lot of folk didn’t have a lot, & my mama was a teacher. Every year she would identify kids in her class that she knew weren’t gonna get Christmas presents. My dad & I would go to thrift shops & junkyards to look for bikes we could fix up or bike parts we could use. We would put together bikes for kids in my mom’s class, & it was a lot of fun & felt really good. I had a bike & liked to ride, but got a skateboard for Christmas when I was 5, & have been obsessed with skating ever since. So, I basically took my dad’s idea, switched it over from bikes to my passion which is skateboards, & ran with it. The outcome has been amazing. I’ve given out well over 100 skateboards, started a skate team, & have brought skateboarding to hoods that probably never would have been exposed to it otherwise.
Linkedin: Keep my 9-5 separate from Skater Claus
Yelp: Don’t think I got one, but 5 stars for sure
Other: https://www.abc10.com/article/news/local/mynews/east-atlanta/skate-expectations-for-community-giveaway/85-00adb146-cd3d-4611-aaa6-e6b2e316c766 http://voyageatl.com/interview/meet-mark-condit-skater-claus-edgewood/ https://www.13newsnow.com/article/news/local/kirkwood-edgewood-e-atl/skater-claus-mark-condit-atlanta/85-60e1cd36-dbb4-46fb-b633-9770fa693bbf https://www.gofundme.com/f/boards-4-kids https://www.etsy.com/shop/SkaterClaus?coupon=SCSALE20&utm_medium=social_organic&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=scoupons_coupon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1axNoe0Wpns https://creativeloafing.com/content-440213-podcast-skater-claus