While researching the skateboarding community around Athens, Ohio, there was one name that came up consistently: Moss Miller. Miller is the owner and operator of the Flipside Skate Shop in Athens, and is a local mascot for the sport.
Miller moved to Athens when he was ten years old and began skating with his brother during their formative years.
“I think I got my first board in like ’88 or ’89,” said Miller “I used to just like, what’s called butt-boarding, which is where you sit on the board and just go down hill. It’s almost like riding a sled.”
Miller’s older brother and his friends who were actually skating inspired Miller to start standing on the board. It was around 1991 when Miller acquired his first new skateboard — a Santa Cruz Rob Roskopp. He said that it was around then that he got especially interested in skating.
Over the next nearly three decades, Miller became well-known for skateboarding. He used to represent the first skate shop in Athens, S&M Skates, which was opened in the mid-1990s by two college students who started the shop at 9 Mill Street. Miller competed in some competitions and tried to get sponsored beyond S&M, but never left the semi-pro/amateur circle.
When Miller’s S&M sponsors decided to leave Athens in the late 1990s, their shop was bought by a group of businesspeople that Miller said didn’t know what they were doing.
“They really didn’t know the community and they didn’t know skateboarding,” Miller said. “They kind of ran it into the ground.”
Miller then approached the new owners around the turn of the millennium with an offer to buy the business’s assets and to take over the location. Miller changed the name to Flipside Skate Shop, and a few years later, he moved the shop to its current location at 14 West Stimson Avenue. Flipside has been open for nearly 20 years, and it operates as a gateway to the Athens skateboarding community. It seems that every skateboarder in Athens knows the shop and its owner.
Miller is a very sociable businessman. He has an active group chat with local skaters who will message him any time they need something. Unfortunately, the business isn’t as profitable as Miller would like, and he has had to work other jobs to maintain the shop and to make a living. He described his shop as almost like a dentist office, where you have to call ahead before coming in.
Despite being so well known among the community, Miller has pondered parting with his business.
“I want someone to fill my shoes. I want to pass the torch,” said Miller, who wants to find a more financially stable career. However, Miller said he would never stop skateboarding and that he will always be a part of the skateboard community in Athens.
Photo by Zach Shrivers