A skate business that got its start downtown has a new home at Sunset Plaza Mall.
Wisper Skate Shop — which started operating on North Third Street in 2019 — opened its new, expanded location on Oct. 9. It now operates in a bay near Bath & Body Works and across from the Pizza Ranch interior mall entrance.
Owner Bryce Schmitz of Norfolk said he hadn’t intended to relocate the store for a while, but the move to the mall location was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“I had quite a few people get a hold of me saying the mall is offering some good deals. I wasn’t too interested in it at first, but finally, I was like, ‘Let’s give them a call and see,’ ” Schmitz said. “They gave us a good deal, and we decided to jump.”
Schmitz said the mall location of Wisper is about four times larger than its former location downtown. The additional space provides more area for merchandise, as well as space for fitting rooms.
The store — open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon until 6 p.m. Sunday — now carries an assortment of skateboard decks, clothing and items that fit the current culture, said store manager Tim Fernau.
“Skate feels skate. Skate is easy. That’s the stuff we know,” he said of deciding what to offer at the store. “The culture stuff — a lot comes from social media and having younger kids around the store and knowing what is hip and cool.”
The additional space also creates more room for those interested in participating in Wisper’s weekly Skate School, classes that feature demonstrations on the store’s mini ramp and includes students of all ages. The classes will get underway again Wednesday, Oct. 20, with beginners from 5 p.m. until 6 p.m. and advanced from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m.
“With Skate School, we took a break coming over here (during the move),” Schmitz said. “We’re starting again. ... That will be pretty sweet.”
Schmitz said he believes the new space is perfect for events; Wisper already has been involved in charitable events and is helping with a fundraiser for the son of Hailey Christiansen, who died last year.
Eventually, he added, he would like to bring in popular guests that increase the value of what the Norfolk community has to offer.
He and Fernau also expressed excitement about the increase in exposure and foot traffic that comes with having a business on the mall, especially in a town that features a new state-of-the-art skate park.
“I’ve talked to people from all over the place that have come to skate this place, and to have a skate shop of this caliber to offer other people coming into our local community or anybody else that comes into town — if something goes wrong with their equipment or (they’re) shopping new equipment, they have a place where they can do that,” Fernau said.
Fernau added that he’s excited to be “back home” in the mall where his mother once managed Regis and regularly would send him to the arcade with a roll of quarters.
“(The mall) is why I am the way I am today,” he said. “I got thrown into a mass of people with a roll of quarters — I was a mall rat.”