Inside Butcher's The Block BMX shop
Inside Butcher's The Block BMX Shop
Animal Bikes pro Joe Butcher Kowalski outside of his new shop, rocking a leather jacket from the days when he represented Hoffman Bikes. Recently, Butcher decided to take a shot at opening a new BMX shop in the Bethlehem, Pa. area, not far from his home, and XGames.com got the inside look at the latest chapter of Lehigh Valley BMX progression. This is The Block.
Outside The Block
"Nick Smith and myself run The Block," says Joe 'Butcher' Kowalski. "We have Chris Price (Hellbent Wheels) to build custom wheels for us and we also have Jerry and Dilman help out when we can't be around. Also the whole ECD and Atown Trash crew help out anyway they can."
Inside The Block
"I always want to be a part of BMX anyway I can," says Kowalski. "Since the end of The Source bike shop and loss of our friend MCM (RIP), I felt we needed a rider owned shop that can relate to the people, and be a hub for meeting up, being a part of the scene and a place to put ideas out."
Butcher's Hoffman Bikes jacket
Butcher has a nice collection of BMX memorabilia inside the shop. Here is the backside of the Hoffman Bikes leather jacket, circa 2000.
The Block brands
"We have quite a few brands to start with: Animal Bikes, Skavenger, T-1 , Cult, FBM, Bonedeth, Banned, Fiend, Shadow , ECD, Base, 90east, Atown Trash and a bunch more," says Kowalski. "We try to push and support rider-owned companies because that's what we are. We feel rider-owned companies are the way to go because the products are designed, tested and sometimes even made by the riders. Besides you get to keep the money in the family so the companies and riders can grow, live, and keep coming out with awesome products and videos for everyone to see and enjoy."
Selections of soft goods from BMX brands such as BASE, 90east, Animal Bikes and A-Town Trash line the walls at The Block.
"We already have an awesome scene in Bethlehem and surrounding area. With places like the Bethlehem Skate plaza, Posh, Catty Woods, Penn Skate and the various street spots. I would love to see it grow even more and unite together more so we can all do bigger and better things all around," says Kowalski. Step one of that plan involves selling quality complete BMX bikes from brands such as Sunday.
Around the turn of the century, Butcher was a member of the Hoffman Bikes pro team, and boasted signature complete bikes, signature frames, as well as spots in Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX video game. This was one of Butcher's Pro Series complete bikes from Hoffman in 2000.
Custom made ECD seat
A custom made ECD leather seat for sale inside The Block, made by Catty Woods trails local Jay Flash Crosson.
Some more BMX history: Butcher was an original member of the Elite Footwear team, alongside names such as John "Luc-E" Englebert and Chris Stauffer. Started in 2003, Elite was one of the first BMX sneaker brands in existence. Years later, the brand may not exist, but their first run of shoes stays strong.
BMX brands at The Block
Although Butcher rides for Animal Bikes, he still sees the value in supporting other rider-owned brands such as Primo, Shadow, Bonedeth, Eclat, Fiend and more. "Keep money in your community and buy from your local shop, you might meet a new riding friend while you are there," says Kowalski.