Not so long ago, I worked at Grenade. My career started when Matt Kass decided to open a third Grenade retail store in the Portland area, this one adjacent to Windell’s Snowboard Camp. Given my stellar background in retail (I wasn’t exactly fired, but didn’t exactly quit my jobs at Zumiez and US Outdoor Store,) I was an obvious choice to help run this store. That summer Joe Carter and I ate Windell’s food, and hawked stickers and leftover gear to Windell’s campers. There were ups and downs, but overall it was a fun summer.
The only real issue with working at the store was that hour commute, so I was excited when Matt started having me do other things, such as drive him around town. This was right after Grenade (meaning Matt) had moved from Mammoth to Portland, so there was a lot to do. A warehouse had been purchased, but leased out while in escrow, so Grenade was pretty much operating out of Matt’s house and a storage unit. I helped him line up temporary warehouse space (that would be 122nd) and a design office, which is still what I am most proud of in my Grenade career.
As shipping season began, Dave and I pretty much took care of everything on the business end of things. Bayne handled inside sales, and Jesse was in charge of getting all the boxes packed. We tried really hard, so if your order was screwed up, I’m sorry. This was probably the best time I had at Grenade. We were making it happen, and it felt great. Once all the orders had shipped, and the other company’s lease ran out on our official warehouse (82nd) it was time to move.
My job had now become payroll, collections, human resources and self appointed public relations. One of my first initiatives in the new space was to get Shane Flood’s mini ramp moved into the warehouse. Things were looking up, despite the pile of shit in the middle of the new warehouse.
The crew at 82nd was a funny one. Towards the end of my career, I started writing a blog about it. I did an awesome run down, which I think should finally see the light of day. So here goes:
There is AJ. He is “customer service” I think. I’m not really sure what he actually does, but when it involves professional snowboarders, he makes sure to think out loud. “Scotty Arnold says he wears Bob Gnarly’s, but I am not sending him gloves no one will publish.” He definitely has Grenade tattoos. If you sit anywhere near him, you know all about his two trucks, and his awesome hangovers. Oh and his dog Pandora is pretty cool.
Bayne hasn’t come around much lately. Bayne is from my hometown. He was really good at skateboarding. Now he runs the shop downtown. It’s some sort of outlet that sells long boards and spray paint. People steal stuff all the time. Theoretically, he handles inside sales. Occasionally he is on the phone shmoozing people to buy SP bindings, which we licensed, but didn’t bother to market. He is also in charge of RAs (that’s return authorization). Though he keeps a record of it, no one really ever knows what’s going on. He has a shoe with a bamboo plant on his desk.
Downstairs Jesse is the king. Well, actually Matt is king of everything, but if Matt isn’t paying attention, Jesse is in charge. Jesse, or House, as he’s also called, has a stripper girlfriend who keeps him out until 5 am. He acts tough, and doesn’t change his clothes very often, but deep down he is nice. I think he might also be a pro snowboarder, or former pro snowboarder. He hates packing boxes and always talks about how much more he got paid at Betty Rides. He used to have a den downstairs where they kept snakes and dogs and smoked weed, but Matt made him clean it out. Now there are just a few shirts hanging from the ceiling.
Then there are the grunts. The grunts are amazing, because none of them have any idea what they are doing. It will take them a week to paint one wall. Putting a sticker on the door is a two-man job. They spend most of their time a Rosco’s, the bar across the street. A few of them have been temporarily banned from the establishment. A quick breakdown of the grunts:
Cole– Spends most of his time air drumming. Often comes upstairs to announce his latest great idea. “Balloons made out of bubble gum” being my favorite.
Jamie– The smartest of the grunts. I think he may actually be going to school and trying to better himself.
Curtis– A total rocker. Long hair, tight jeans. Funny dude, not much of a worker, the secretary definitely has a crush on him.
Oh yeah, then there is Forest. Dark Forest to be exact. At one point we had three Forest’s. This one is the most amazing though. He’s maintenance supervisor I guess. He is allowed to have assistants. He worked for months without getting paid because he was on workman’s comp. He built the entire skatepark and probably some other stuff to. Then, when he was no longer getting workman’s comp, he asked if he could get paid for all those hours. Apparently he had gotten more product than he needed and the guys at the shop were over it. Now he gets paid, is a staple at Rosco’s and is always good for entertainment. Oh yeah, and he has an awesome mustache.
Back upstairs there are a few more people. Kelly was hired to be the morning receptionist, but since she is not retarded, quickly fell into the role of Matt’s personal assistant. She doesn’t skate and she’s not a dirtbag. But she manages to put up with everything anyway. There is the other Matt. I call him the blind guy cause he carries a blind guy cane. I think he was hired to fold goggle boxes but now he is a receptionist. He mostly sits and stares at the phones, willing them to ring. When they do he answers, “Grenade, how can I help you?” Jen used to work here. She did credits and general office work. But she’s knocked up, and her existing child is now on summer vacation, so she won’t be coming around for awhile.
There is also a shop at 82nd. It is run by Tom. Tom is always positive, always stoked. I think he was hired to help run the company, but ended up just running a shop. He is always trying to make shit happen for people. He loves his employees.
His employees are:
Kailey–She may also be his personal assistant. She’s afraid of Jesse and lives at Tom’s house.
Willis– Amazing at skateboarding, not so good at life. When all the Grenerds got charged for damaging a hotel in Seattle, he got charged the most.
Forest–Forest is nice. He lives in Gresham.
Traci– Traci used to work upstairs. She got cut off cause all she did is play on Myspace. Now she sets up skateboards.
There are always others coming and going. I think Matt hired the bartender from Rosco’s to walk his dog. Shane Flood comes by the fix bikes. There are always old trucks in the parking lot. Oh yeah, and there is a garden on the roof. And no, they are not growing weed.
We chugged along at 82nd. Painting, organizing, moving boats back and forth on the warehouse floor. But any reasonable person could see this wouldn’t last, or work, forever. I don’t really want to get into the drama that ensued, so let’s just say, depending on the day, Matt could be your best friend or your worst enemy. When he decided payroll needed to be revamped, but didn’t decide how we would do that, it marked the end of my career. It seemed to me not paying people could probably get you into trouble, so I continued to run payroll every other Friday. The second Friday, he fired me for it. Such is life.
After I left, things seemed to go downhill. It’s not my place to explain everything that happened, since I was no longer there. Let’s just say there was a bit of a regime change. I heard rumors of cops being called, and everyone getting fired. It sounded like a mess and I was glad to have gotten out when I did.
Last week though, I went back for the first time since the broken clock outside had been turned into a giant Grenade. Instead of broken trucks, the parking lot was filled with a lot of really nice cars, and the exterior paint job looks a whole lot better. Yep, Grenade is like a real company now. It’s certainly not the 82nd I remember. But I’ll let Kevin give you the tour (and only interject a few of my thoughts.)