Skateboarding started as a way to get out of the office for self-professed workaholic Anthony “AJ” Malenfant. Recently, he skated his way into life as the owner of a new business, Major Skate
, at 106 S. Linn St. on Bay City’s West Side.
Malenfant’s association with skateboarding goes back to his teen years when Malenfant and his buddies helped design and name Bay City’s Infinity Skate Park
As an adult, he realized he was spending too much time at work and not enough on a board.
An indoor skateboard park opened this fall near Bay City's Midland Street business district.
“I went out and bought a complete board, and the next thing you know I’m spending so much time at the skate park, and then more and more and more time.”
It wasn’t long before he was helping kids at the park learn to skateboard and growing a community around him. “All these moms started saying to me ‘You’re so good at this.’ So, I started thinking this is what I should do for a living.”
Malenfant says he's seen as many as 20 skateboarders in the park at one time.
Until recently, Malenfant was living in Pennsylvania, but the Bay City native decided to return to Michigan and started looking for a building. Driving around the city, he happened on a building on Linn Street near Midland Street.
“The landlord was building out the coffee shop next door, and it looked really nice. I liked the brick, and I liked the location. I love this spot,” he says. (Read about LoLoBee’s Lounge in this Sept. 29 Route Bay City article.)
Malenfant, who also spent 20 years in the Michigan National Guard, said he wanted to give a nod to his years in the military, as well as build a place where skateboarders could get together in a positive environment. Major Skate recognizes his rank in the guard, and acknowledges that skateboarders contribute to the community.
Infinity Skate Park has been a staple in Bay City for over two decades and is an outdoor park, but Malenfant says Major Skate is a one-of-a-kind indoor park.
“When you think of an indoor skatepark, you think of a big warehouse – big empty floor, high empty ceilings, and when you think of a skate shop with some ramps, you think of maybe a half-pipe. So this is everything, it’s a destination skate-spot.”
The indoor park has a half-pipe with ramps at both ends, and room for everyone who wants to have a go at it. Malenfant says he’s seen as many as 20 skaters using it at one time, but thinks it can handle up to 30.
“The skate community is very polite,” he says. “Even when we have 20-plus people in here, you wait your turn. It’s perfectly OK because it gives you a break, and you get to hype on other people. It’s a really positive environment.”
Not only do experienced skateboarders get to challenge themselves, Malenfant says he encourages anyone who wants to try it to visit the indoor park. He offers lessons from beginner to advanced, and offers free lessons to kids whose parents buy them a complete, which means everything they need.
“It’s a deck, it’s wheels, trucks, bearings, it’s a complete skateboard, like getting a bike all put together.”
He offers either a free lesson or free session. “That way when parents buy a complete, their kids don’t just go out in the driveway, fall, and not get back on it again.”
Malenfant also likes the idea of supporting development on the city’s West Side. “We as a community have to stick together,” he says, pointing to three other new businesses on Linn Street. “It’s always a good thing to bring new life.”
With the coffee shop next door opening later in the day, Malenfant also adjusted his hours to accommodate the late day crowd. Keep up with Major Skate on Facebook