Wednesday, June 08 2016

HALF AND HALF: AN INTERVIEW WITH MILHOUSE WILLIAMSON

There is an undeniable passion that can be felt throughout the whole of Half and Half. Walking through its doors on 60 Exchange Place, you’re guaranteed to catch shop owner Milhouse’s infectious excitement for and love of skateboarding. His more specific devotion to Salt Lake’s local skate scene is a breath of fresh air in an industry and culture that’s riddled with monstrous corporate brands and events. It’s as if he’s gearing up to single-handedly put skateboarding back in the dirty, bloody hands of those who care most about it. With a similar fervor for snowboarding, Half and Half is poised to be an instant staple amongst Salt Lake’s sideways enthusiasts.


First off, introduce yourself!
- Name:
Milton "Milhouse" Williamson
- Where you’re from:
I'm from Rexburg, Idaho. Weird and awesome place.
- Number of years skating:
Been skating 22 years strong.
- Favorite skate park:
Ninth and Ninth would be my fave, all the homies. I love most of the Utah parks though.
- A random fact we might not know about you:
I have a tramp stamp. Ask me in person about it, the story is great.

The man himself.

When did Half and Half open?
Half and Half opened on March 5th, 2016. We shut down the street and had some sick skating, bands, and good times.

Where did the name Half and Half come from?
My life has always been half skating and half snowboarding.  I grew up in areas that had two specific seasons, great summers followed by gnarly winters. Half my friends were the skate homies and half my friends were the snow homies. I've been half legit and half "criminal" most of my life as well. I also love coffee and wanted that to play a roll in the shop. Half and Half seemed only fitting, and with a base of coffee to inspire and steal from their world and make it ours.

Fresh daily.

What made you want to start a skate shop?
I've always been fascinated with shop life. I was lucky enough to have an awesome local shop growing up, Sled Shed owned by Brian Williams and ran by Kit Nordfelt. They did really good things for skateboarding in Rexburg. They always threw rad events and got the whole town involved, even laid the work to getting our skatepark. I loved the role a shop played in the skating world. I went on to work in random retail jobs, local and corporate, as well as working at Brighton and Backcountry.com. I am a felon, so I found myself running into obstacles in every job because of that and my attitude towards authority, which I don’t have respect for. I wanted to be a part of skateboarding and snowboarding for the rest of my life and with the experience I had accrued it only seemed fitting that I start my own shop and work for myself. Luckily my beautiful and talented life partner Kristin Woodard saw my struggles and believed in my vision 100%. I had to make the drop.

Any big hurdles you had to get over to open the shop?
Lots of hurdles, but if it were easy it wouldn't be worth it. Some that stand out were finding and renting a space in downtown, getting suppliers to take me seriously since I'm fairly janky when it comes to this, and last but not least was actually dropping in on it. It’s very intimidating quitting your day job for your dream job that you yourself have to create.

Did you build the pool quarter yourselves, DIY skate spot style?
My lifelong skate homies Ben Page and Brett Egbert built that for me. Ben does Page Handyman Solutions, he’s a genius when it comes to cement and spent hours smoothing and shaping the quarter. Nick and Sam Hubble donated the pool coping and Dan Jones got us the tempered glass for the case. Ben and I brainstormed one day because I wanted a custom case. We drew it up to what I wanted and after Ben jokingly said, “Lets put a quarter to skate on the end of it.” Little did he know we call the shots and I backed him on it 100%.  Ben and Brett did it themselves, but I would say it’s a work of art rather than a DIY, but I'm obviously biased.

Isaiah putting the quarter to good use with a blunt.

How much Pie Hole do you eat a week?
I'm a little over a pie a week.

Same for Jackalope, how many after (or during) work beers?
The Jackalope is a must for the after work beer and shot. Got to celebrate living the dream.

Any wild shop stories yet? Any crazy or belligerent customers?
When I first opened I had a homeless dude around 50 coming in everyday for coffee. Totally chill, but each day he would stay longer and longer and talk more and more about getting a deck. One day I told him, “My man, I don’t mind if you grab coffee but I can't have you hanging out all day.” He's like, “No I really want a deck today,” and slaps 150 bones on the counter. Homeboy put me in my place real quick and we got him set on a sick complete to get him around the city easier. As for belligerent customers, I'm not open late enough for that, but I do get the tipsy homies on the weekend brunch circuit around here, but they are always chill.

Tell us your thoughts on supporting local brands and how it helps the city as a whole.
Supporting local brands as a local shop is something I see as a basic necessity. If I want people to shop local, I should take that same mindset into the stock that I supply in my store. I want Salt Lake as a whole to thrive, and in order for that to happen you have to support your local homies trying to do something cool. The reason cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, New York, and Seattle are such influencers and players is because they support and grow their local brands. It takes everyone thriving to put a city on the map, a shop can't do it alone. I also love Salt Lake City and want it to get the recognition it deserves in the skate community.

All local brands.

What do you think is the best part about Salt Lake's skate scene?
I love the diversity in styles Salt Lake has to offer.

Do you have a shop team? If so, who’s on it?
Since I have been skating Salt Lake since 2003, I was able to put together a heavy ass team:
Ben Page, Kris Zamora, Sam Hubble, Nick Hubble, Levi Faust, Sysco Lettig, Noe Rodriguez, Colin Brophy, Caleb Orton, Andras Ferguson, Jordan Vigil, Juan Soreo, Isaiah Sanchez, Delbert

Is it just you working the store or do you have a crew that helps out?
For now it's just me. My lady does the financials, but outside of that it's me here on the daily. The team helps the shop too, each in their own way.

What kind of snow products and brands are you going to be bringing in?
I am really stoked for my snow line up. I'll be focusing mainly on boards and bindings. I'll have Public, Stepchild, Smokin, Niche, Arbor, Salomon and hopefully D-Day for snowboards with Flux, Drake, and Salomon for bindings.

Any big plans or ideas for the future?
The future is bright here and I am letting it happen naturally. I just plan on jumping at every good opportunity thrown my way.

Shout outs and thank yous?
Definitely have a laundry list of thank you’s and shout outs like Ben Page, Brett Egbert, Kristin Woodard, Sam Hubble, Dan Jones, Dave Doman, and all the local homies that have come and supported the shop already.

Photos and words by Jacob Malenick

- CURRENT ISSUE - JANUARY 2017