Owner, 2nd Base Vintage in Easton & Homebase610 Skateshop in Bethlehem
Lehigh Valley transplant, skateboard enthusiast and philanthropist Andy Po isn’t driven by making loads of money, a big house, and a fancy car.
Instead, his focus is the community and, more specifically, kids who are like he once was – they love skateboarding and are searching for a community of like-minded people.
“I moved from San Diego to Pennsylvania in the summer of ’97. My father’s job got bought out by a company on the East Coast, and they suggested thankfully, Lehigh Valley as a place to settle. So, I ended up in Bethlehem and finished high school there and kind of stuck around because of my ties to the skateboarding community,” Andy explained.
A little more than 17 years ago Andy opened a skateboarding shop named Homebase610 in Bethlehem. He chose the number 610 because, at the time, it was the primary area code in the region. When he opened the shop, he focused his efforts not just on retail sales, but on its impact on the community.
“A big part of how we always want to grow is to make sure that we’re giving back as we move forward … getting involved with schools, teaching, skateboarding and the life lessons that skateboarding teaches kids has been a big part of why I’m still doing this,” Andy explained. “I feel like what we’ve done is we’ve built a strong foundation here in the Lehigh Valley through working with the community as we grow.”
As a testament to that commitment, Andy worked with the City of Bethlehem to develop Bethlehem Skate Plaza – a place that gives kids and skateboarding enthusiasts a safe place to congregate and hone their craft.
“We worked with the city of Bethlehem for over a decade advocating and working with them to get that designed and eventually fundraised and built. So that’s been there for almost 10 years now. That’s our foundation in the Lehigh Valley,” Andy explained.
From that foundation, Andy’s reach into the community has grown. Just over four years ago, he was able to set up shop in the neighboring city of Easton. Andy chose the up-and-coming city because he loved the small business community and how it fosters entrepreneurs like himself.
“We were definitely welcomed by a lot of the long-standing businesses here, and, as we kind of grew here, we really kind of found out that if you weren’t plugged into what was going on in Easton, you would know about Garlic Fest or Bacon Fest, but there’s so many other layers to the arts community here, the music community,” Andy said.
“The (Easton) Main Street Initiative was really helpful in getting us to understand the process of getting a business open here. That made the process very streamlined,” Andy explained.
For the new Easton location, Andy knew he didn’t want another skateboard shop. Instead he had a vision for the location he ended up calling 2nd Base Vintage that included helping artists and local entrepreneurs expand and succeed.
“This shop has really been our way to engage the creatives in our community,” Andy said. “This is where we want to have our art shows. We want to have music playing. This is how we want to connect with other young creatives in the Lehigh Valley”.
As an added bonus, Andy is able to foster aspiring artists – something he equates to the highest form of success.
“You get a lot of kids that come through here who are aspiring to be photographers or designers and they gravitate towards us because we share those same desires. And I hope to be able to bring some of those kids in and give them real salaries, real benefits, real opportunities here in the Lehigh Valley.”
Live like a local:
Go-to date night spot: Bolete
Favorite place to grab a drink: Lafayette Bar on jazz night
Favorite coffee shop: Lit
True or false: Tony Hawk Pro Skater, Best video game of all time?
True. Best video game soundtrack of all time too.