It's not every day a local business reaches a milestone like its 25th anniversary, but that's just what happened for independent skate shop Sky High this past Saturday. The all-ages celebration brought out both younger and older skaters, proving that this Bay View staple is here to stay.
Born and bred in the Milwaukee area, Sky High first opened its doors in 1988 in Racine. Originally owned by George and Dimitri Dimitropoulos, current owner Aaron Polansky was hired initially as an employee. Polansky bought the shop in 1999 and moved to the current Bay View location in 2004.
When I moved from Minneapolis to my first apartment in Bay View nearing the end of summer 2011, it was hard not to notice the amount of people donning Sky High T-shirts and tanks. I'd driven past the location several times, but like many, mistakenly thought it was a pipe shop. It wasn't until I finally made some friends that I realized not only was Sky High indeed not a pipe shop, but learned what a difference the store and Polansky had made in the local community.
Growing up in a small town north of Milwaukee, I can easily recall the impact and the struggle that went in to the creation of the first small skate park in town. It's clear to anyone that spends time around Sky High patrons, that it is so much more than a skate shop.
Sky High and Polansky have produced an almost cult-like following that's easy to understand. Starting with the Cass Street skate jams that have since migrated to a block party style jam next to the shop – Polansky seems to have his hand in events and project specifically designed to inspire today's youth and the community. Over the years the shop has partnered with other local businesses to increase exposure of community projects and involvement. Even the back of the shop features the Sky High Gallery promoting artistic ventures beyond skateboarding.
Saturday's skate jam was packed with a raffle, Abstract Ramp Contest, and BBQ provided by Odd Duck. All proceeds went towards fundraising efforts for skate park projects within the Milwaukee area.
As a self-proclaimed aficionada of dive bars, Lisa Simonson knows a thing or two about drinking and our city’s bar scene. She now calls Milwaukee, one of America’s drunkest cities (coincidence?), home after growing up in world-famous Port Washington (“Step by Step,” anyone?) and spending time in both Minneapolis and London.
Now, back in her favorite city in the world, Simonson blogs about her adventures in Milwaukee, one bar at a time. Although her primary focus is sampling the best the city has to offer in beer, wine and whiskey, when not abusing her liver, Lisa can be found cruising on her bike, obsessing over Adobe products, jamming to her favorite bands or attempting to teach her cat to walk on a leash.