Skateboarding has become a self-fulfilling prophecy for Brandon Mcconnell, 34, owner of OneUp Skateshop on the South Side. Skating, connecting with the community, and fostering an inclusive, self-expression haven shreds society’s standard bubble, outside the norm, on 1010 Freyburg St. 

Mcconnell received his first skateboard from his mother when he was 12 years old after moving from Hawaii to Camden, North Carolina. Mcconnell says, “If you don’t exist in everybody’s society, it’s like finding a home, and you have that self-expression. It was one of the first things I identified as an adolescent.”

Skateboarding didn’t come as organic as he would think, being naturally good at most team sports including baseball, basketball and bowling.

“I fell in love with skating because it was the only thing I wasn’t good at,” Mcconnell mentions. “Everything in my life came naturally. If someone showed me it, I got it the first time. Skating is a mental and physical challenge. It was always hard and took time, everything took scrapes and bruises.”

Skateboarding, unlike many sports, takes a special aptitude and skillset that fosters self-expression in an artistic way. McConnell explains:

Skateboarding was something I could do by myself and it’s really an art expression, a self-expression of yourself. The thing about team sports, like baseball, is there a proper way to throw the ball or swing a bat, it’s all physics. Skating is not like that. Depending on the person, the trick is going to look different, the board might flip faster, or slower, the board may pop higher; the way I throw my feet, the angle is going to be different or the way I catch the board is going to be different and that’s where the self-expression comes into play.

Mcconnell has been running OneUp Skate Shop since 2016 and over the span of seven years, the vision of his passion for skating has evolved into a color-blasted, eclectic portrait of his self-expression through niche, community togetherness that connects beginners, advanced and pro skaters alike. 

The skate shop is the largest local retailer in Pittsburgh, offering boards, skate accessories, footwear, apparel and even unique, customized boards by Pittsburgh graffiti artists including Narf City and Derty Bird. The shop also offers specialized ordering if looking for a one-of-a-kind part or skateboard piece. 

Additionally, connecting with the community is an integral piece that Mcconnell has thrived on for his business, and as a newcomer coming in, the mural views of 3D graffiti art decks the entire shop, and even the skate park, connecting to the right side of the retailer front. Mcconnell has a storyline in each corner of the shop, giving a special place and aptitude for his passion for skating while unknowingly honoring his young skater self, finding his place in this world.

“We have a full park for our customers. It’s free if you are a patron of the store. We have heat in the winter, but if it’s nice outside, there’s no reason to be inside. I never had this growing up.”

Mcconnell has other plans for the shop, too, while he comes into his prime as a skate shop owner. In the past, he has hosted Penguins and Steelers games live screenings, fingerboard meet-ups and music shows that cover anything from rap, indie rock, etc. Future events include comedy shows and even a Guitar Hero contest. 

For all current offerings and updates, be sure to follow OneUp on Instagram and locate the hidden haven for anyone’s welcoming.

This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.
Colin Parrish

Colin is a Pittsburgh born and raised, daydreamer, restaurant foodie addict whose passions include running, thrifting, camping, and having a healthy amount of coffee or Malbec (depending on the time of day) . As a typical jagoff, you can catch him shopping in the Strip, running in Highland Park, or finding the best hiking views just outside of the city. He is a content manager for YaJagoff Media LLC and currently lives in Etna, PA.

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