On Saturday afternoon, an alley between Central Avenue and 1st Avenue North just off Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. in St. Petersburg became a skate park in celebration of Freshly Squeezed’s two-year anniversary. If you wanted to purport street cred on your social media existence, you should have been at the celebration for Freshly Squeezed, a store featuring menswear that appeals to the urban and skater taste.
The core group of skaters — about 10 skaters 12-and-under and approximately 20 older skaters — put on quite the show for fans of street skateboarding, performing tricks on a makeshift course including a quarter pipe concreted onto the side of a dumpster, a bump to bar, a mogul ramp, and a flat bar. With music expertly blaring in the background by DJ Mega, aka Neal Stoll, Jay Turner of School of Skatin’ emceed the event, generously handing out prizes donated by Freshly Squeezed, Huf clothing line, and The Shop skate shop located in Bradenton.
“I thought the energy was amazing,” said St. Petersburg resident Alina Prouty, whose son, Jackson, competed in the younger division of the contest. “I loved the spirit of it all, seeing the different ages, skill levels attempt tricks that were stunning. There was such a sense of community. And the (emcee) and deejay played a major role in the atmosphere, continuing to encourage the skaters to keep going for it even if they missed a trick.”
Prouty also appreciated the amicable nature of the City of St. Petersburg , which issued a permit to Freshly Squeezed to block off that section of the streets to have the contest.
Gary Swenson and his fiancée, Victoria Phipps, opened the store on the corner of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street (Ninth Street) and First Avenue North in August 2012. Freshly Squeezed fits in with the metropolitan vibe of downtown St. Petersburg, which has changed dramatically in many ways over the past five years. For Swenson, who helped design the course, the street venue played hand-in-hand with Freshly Squeezed’s approach to the business of apparel.
“We carry stuff that kind of separates ourselves from the big box stores, stuff that’s limited production,” said Swenson, who learned the fashion business in Los Angles during a long stay on the West Coast. “Everyone now is really into (do-it-yourself), nothing pre-fab, make something out of nothing. So having a business philosophy that feeds off of that, we are able to connect more with the local base. For every $100 that you spend in a local business, $69 goes back into the community so most of the products that we sell are local brands. People appreciate it if stuff is made here, printed here, sold here and bought here. Ultimately, that’s just a good equation for the city.”