Small Business Highlight: Society Skatepark and Coffee Shop
When I discovered Society Skatepark and Coffee, my first thought was, “A skatepark and a coffee shop in one? That’s pretty cool,” and when I walked in, it was. When you come in the door, you see skateboard decks hung up on the wall and a person who greets you from behind the white-tiled coffee bar. The dining area is simple and cozy, drawing you in to see more.
I sat down with Mark Horrocks, the owner, to talk with him about how the concept of Society came to be. At first, he laughed because it was a long journey to get where they are today. He originally wanted to open a coffee shop in the downtown area. Unfortunately, that plan fell through, but he did create a lasting friendship from this experience. So Mark pivoted to starting a food truck. In the meantime, his friend, Matthew, had bought a warehouse, soon to be Society, and allowed Mark to work on the food truck in the warehouse space since he was trying to figure out what to do with it.
As fate would have it, Mark heard about a skatepark for sale in Atlanta, and the previous owners wanted it to go to a good home. He called up Matthew and asked if he wanted to open a skatepark/coffee shop together, and he said yes. They drove down, took the park apart, put it onto six semi-trucks, and brought it back home to Memphis. The experience of taking the old skatepark away from its original home was bittersweet. The kids and other patrons of the skatepark had come to ride a final time, saying goodbye to their second home with tears in their eyes. Mark knew that he wanted to create a place like this at home, a place where kids and skaters, in general, could come to escape and connect with like-minded people.
They spent over a year remodeling the building, assembling the skatepark, and prepping the coffee shop. The original plan wasn’t a coffee shop, though, despite Mark’s past interest in opening one up. They knew they wanted to have some sort of concessions in the front for the skaters because they needed more opportunities for revenue. But they decided to combine Mark’s past idea for a coffee shop and designed a full craft coffee bar to go in the front of the house.
Society has become more than a skatepark or a coffee shop. It’s become a place for people to connect and discover the art and artists of Memphis. I asked Mark about the Scott St. Market that he co-runs with Contact Skateboard Shop, which also sells its merchandise in Society. Last year, they started the market to “help artists get their art out there, to provide a space to do that.” The market is held in front of their warehouse at least once a month starting in May. They allow about 25 vendors per market and have live music and food trucks present.
Another way for Society to support local artisans is to open their doors and give them a space to spread their art. Mark said, “What we want to do is promote, obviously, skateboarding and coffee culture, but also art and music. And so we host concerts here… And as far as the art side, like in the park, we have a couple murals done by a couple of professional artists here in town.” They hold the concerts in both the coffee shop and out in the skatepark, as well as skating classes for all levels of skaters, and recently, they held a launch party for a local art and music based zine called Dredge, which focuses on up and coming creatives in the Memphis area.
The last question I had for Mark was what he loves about having a small business in Memphis. And this is what he had to say: “You get to see and be around all different types of people in Memphis.” Mark values the interactions he has with other people, whether they are from Memphis or not. He also mentioned how he hopes that his business has an impact on the community around them, whether that be through art, music, skating, or the culture overall. The love and passion that Mark has for his business and the city of Memphis is evident through his answers and his business. Society loves their community and craves to grow and seek more people to join it. It was a pleasure to talk to Mark and learn more about his business and the legacy he wants to build.
If you want to experience Society Skatepark and Coffee for yourself, they are located at 583 Scott St. right off of Broad Ave. in Memphis, TN. You can visit their website, which is societymemphis.com, and their Instagram, @societymemphis. And if you would like to read more of our blogs highlighting Memphis small businesses or any of our other business-related blogs, you can visit us at www.theprofitlink.com/blog!