CHAMBERSBURG – Libre Skateboarding (67 N. Main St.) celebrated the grand opening of its Chambersburg storefront on Saturday, October 22. The festivities included a formal ribbon-cutting at 1:00 p.m., and it was followed by a skateboarding competition held at Chambersburg’s skate park (38-50 N. 4th St.).
Cuong Lieng is the owner of Libre Skateboarding, but he would rather not get hung up on the labels. Instead, he prefers to be thought of as “just the guy that’s trying to help out the skate community here.”
Accordingly, his downtown storefront offers “everything that has to do with skateboarding.”
Along the right-hand wall is a selection of highly-stylized skateboard decks. A display case in the center of the room contains wheels, trucks, bearings, and other “hard goods.”
The shop also includes skate-oriented apparel such as hats, shirts, pants and shoes, as well as visual art and photography.
Lieng is planning to add a screen printing shop in the back, which might be up and running sometime this winter. He’s thinking about carrying gear for roller skaters, too.
The shop’s name is derived from Lieng’s favorite skateboarding company, Rasa Libre, which was associated with a lot of his favorite skaters. Lieng described himself as being of Chinese and Vietnamese descent, and he grew up in San Diego where his upbringing was steeped in Mexican culture. “Libre” is both an homage and a culmination of these influences.
Libre Skateboarding was originally located in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, behind a nail salon, which he also owned. He was drawn to Chambersburg because of its central location and the potential customer base.
“We want to reach out to a lot of skaters that are down the 81 freeway,” said Lieng of Chambersburg’s strategic position along the bustling interstate highway. From here, he hopes to get the attention of skaters from a territory that stretches loosely from Harrisburg to Martinsburg.
Sam Thrush, president of Downtown Chambersburg Inc., hosted the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday and welcomed Libre Skateboarding to Main Street. In a subsequent phone interview, he expressed excitement about what Libre Skateboarding adds to the existing downtown business scene.
“It’s been a long time since that spot was a retail spot,” said Thrush. “Offices are important, but a storefront is particularly good for retail and restaurants.”
Thrush added that the store will attract new customers to Main Street, and he hopes that those customers explore the surrounding businesses and restaurants.
Lieng is also working out the logistics to offer skateboarding classes – maybe as early as this spring – to help people get started in skateboarding or to help them recapture their nostalgia for the skater days of the 90s.
While there were many younger skaters in attendance at the grand opening celebration, Lieng suggests that the potential audience for skateboarding is as large as it is diverse.
“We’re trying to change the perception of skateboarding,” says Lieng, “and that’s what having the shop means to me; trying to show people that we’re not just punk kids staking or punk adults skating. The guys that I met here in Chambersburg, they’re all domesticated and have families that are older. They’re in their late 40s now. All we’re trying to do is shed a positive light on skating.”
For Lieng that means making sure that everyone has a safe place to skate.
“When you skate, you’re exercising at the same time, and it helps out with mental health, it helps with being creative,” says Lieng.
He adds: “It’s a great outlet for people.”