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Ninja Skate brings California skateboarding ‘vibe’ to downtown Fargo

Angie Granheim opened Ninja Skate and Versatile Outlets Monday, Aug. 22. The store — from its products to the artwork hanging inside — is meant to evoke a West Coast feel in downtown Fargo. “I wanted to bring a little bit of Los Angeles flavor into the city and a little bit of who I am,” she explained to The Forum.

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Angie Granheim, owner of Ninja Skate, a new shop in downtown Fargo.
Chris Flynn / The Forum
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FARGO — A new small business is offering a slice of the West Coast in downtown Fargo.

Ninja Skate and Versatile Outlets opened at 413 Broadway on Monday, Aug. 22. Shop owner Angie Granheim, who grew up as a teenager in Fargo before spending a decade in Los Angeles, said her goal was to bring a piece of California culture back to the Midwest.

That image for the shop is noticeable immediately, as portraits of rappers Nipsey Hussle and Mac Miller look over the Ninja Skate entryway. Behind the counter, palm trees painted on brightly-colored walls drive home the store’s Golden State aesthetic. “I wanted to bring a little bit of Los Angeles flavor into the city and a little bit of who I am,” she told The Forum Wednesday, Sept. 7.

'In my blood'

Granheim, like so many others involved in the sport, is a life-long skater.

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Moving to Los Angeles, with its endless summer weather and skateboarding opportunities, was a natural fit for Granheim. She gravitated towards the famous Venice Beach Skate Park and dove into the local skateboarding culture right away. “As soon as I got out there and got to Venice, I knew that that was home-base for me,” she recalled. “That skate culture really got in my blood.”

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Ninja Skate in downtown Fargo carries a selection of collectible shoes, like this Dior pair seen Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022. Also on hand are Air Jordans, Yeezys and Gucci shoes, among others.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

Ten years skateboarding in Los Angeles meant Granheim also brushed elbows with some of sport’s old legends, like “OGs” Steve Caballero, Christian Hosoi and Jay Adams, as well as new faces like Olympians Nyjah Huston and Sky Brown.

She was also influenced by two of skateboarding’s most famous women, Cindy Whitehead and Heidi Lemmon. One of Whitehead’s “Girl is Not a 4 Letter Word” boards adorns a pillar inside Ninja Skate as a tribute to her influence on Granheim’s life. “Those two women are powerhouses in skateboarding and a big reason why I got into what I’ve done with this shop,” Granheim said.

Granehim can recall instances where she didn’t feel respected walking into skate shops. While she praised THIS Skate Shop , also in downtown Fargo, for being welcoming to women, she said she wanted to open a store tailored specifically for women. “I also really believe strongly that it’s important that we have an outlet for women to feel empowered in the skateboard industry,” she explained. “For me as a woman, I wanted a place that was a safe space for women, the LGBTQ community, anybody that had an interest in skating that wanted to be passionate about it or just have fun with it.”

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This Cindy Whitehead inspired skateboard hangs inside Ninja Skate at 413 Broadway in downtown Fargo. Store owner Angie Granheim said the skateboard is a tribute to Whitehead and Heidi Lemmon, two female "powerhouses" of the sport.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

“I think it’s important that women have a place to go where they can enjoy this sport just as much as anyone else,” she later concluded.

Packed full

Ninja Skate may have a small footprint, but Granheim has ensured that every square-foot is used to its fullest potential.

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The wall behind the counter inside Ninja Skate features numerous complete skateboards from Element and Yocaher.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

The store is filled with all things skateboarding and beyond. So as not to compete directly with THIS, Granheim only carries a small selection of complete Element and Yocaher boards. Granheim worked with Yocaher while she was an artist in Los Angeles, so carrying the brand at Ninja Skate is a testament to their working relationship.

While Granheim said she does not intend to carry a large inventory of boards and parts, she is willing to order whatever people are looking for. She especially takes pleasure in helping young customers find what they’re looking for, like a 10-year-old boy who recently stopped in to buy his first complete board that wasn’t from a big-box store. “The smile on his face, to me, was just priceless. The kid was so stoked to get that deck. It was just amazing,” she said.

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While Ninja Skate offers a small selection of complete skateboards, owner Angie Granheim has placed an emphasis on streetwear. A selection of shirts and jackets is seen here inside the store Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

Where Granheim really wants Ninja Skate to stand out is in its selection of streetwear. In California, skating is as much about fashion as it is about the actual skating, she explained. It’s why she offers racks full of jackets (some inspired by familiar L.A. faces like Snoop Dogg and Kobe Bryant), shirts and other apparel as well as collectible sneakers from brands like Air Jordan, Yeezy and Gucci.

Accessories for sale include Angelus paint for sneaker art, shoe care kits, laces, a variety of bags and other collectibles. “For me, the streetwear is important,” she commented. “I want to bring a different vibe into this city, something that you can’t walk into many other shops and find. I think we’ve kind of nailed that here.”

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Some of the items at Ninja Skate in downtown Fargo include rare Air Jordans.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

Artwork figures heavily into the shops decor as well. Beyond the palm trees and rappers guarding the door, the walls inside Ninja Skate are filled with skateboards and a mural painted by Jules Muck. Muck left her signature on the outside of the building as well with a massive portrait of Bob Dylan on the exterior brickwork. “To have Jules come in and grace this shop with her art was absolutely astounding,” she remarked.

Mural is on side of former Bison Hotel where the singer hung out in 1959.

Local artists are also represented, Granheim said, noting a painting of Tony Hawk done by a young boy from Hillsboro.

All told, Granheim is hoping the store’s selection and artwork will elicit a strong response from patrons. “I want you to walk in and be like, ‘Damn, this is different,’” she said.

Branching off

Granheim hopes Ninja Skate can play a small role in bringing the skateboarding culture that’s so prominent in California here to North Dakota. “It’s not like North Dakota is full of gang activities or we need to get the kids off the streets like in California, but you still need some type of discipline and culture and something where you feel like you belong,” she said. “I think that’s what skateboarding does for a lot of people. It’s a sense of family.”

For that reason, she plans to ingrain herself in the local skateboarding community. She knows that Fargo will never be able to match Los Angeles’s weather or access to beaches and skate parks, but that won’t stop her from trying to bring a larger, indoor skate park to Fargo.

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“My husband said it was for our daughters, I think it was really for him,” Shari Hendren said.

Granheim wants children here to come to know skateboarding as she does. “It’s a lifetime commitment of fun. It really is. The only rule to skateboarding is just have fun,” she said. “It’s discipline, it’s a lifetime of learning tricks and it’s hard work.”

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With any luck, Ninja Skate can play a small role in making that happen. She hopes to one day grow into a larger space or add stores across the region, but for now she’s focused on getting her first shop off the ground. “We’re going to focus on this for the next couple of years and let it ride, just do our best and see what we can do with it,” she said.

Business profile

WHAT: Ninja Skate and Versatile Outlets
WHERE: 413 Broadway
CONTACT: 701-373-6565
ONLINE: instagram.com/ninja_skate_versatile_outlets
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Closed on Monday.

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The outside of Ninja Skate, located at 413 Broadway in downtown Fargo, is seen Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

Thomas Evanella is a reporter for The Forum. He's worked for The Forum for over three years, primarily reporting on business news. He's also the host of the InForum Business Beat podcast, which can be streamed at InForum.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Reach him at tevanella@forumcomm.com or by calling 701-241-5518. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella.
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