- Bike Checks
Larry Alvarado is no stranger to the BMX game. Through the ups-and-downs over the past decade, Larry has always been 100% devoted to BMX in one way or another. Earlier this year, Larry officially opened the doors to his own shop - Stacked BMX. While still young, the small shop in Riverside, California has been making a huge impression all over the globe. We reached out to Larry to get some insight on his roots, his mentality in the BMX world, and what’s next for Stacked BMX.
You’ve been in the BMX game for a long time and spent many years working in shops. Tell us a little bit about your roots…
I started riding in high school and built 60s trails in the late 1990s. I really didn’t think much of them, and then one day my trails were the place to be in California. I met almost every pro during that time because all of them would come to my trails. It was dope. That led me to working at my local bike shop.
I worked at the bike shop for ten years. We introduced a large BMX section to the community and it spawned a large growth to our area. The community joined together and helped get bicycles into the local skatepark.
During this time, I rode pro for S&M, Profile, and ran the BMX program for ODI. Inherently, I picked up a video camera. That created more outlets for my self expression.
When I picked up a camera, it felt like it was the right place for me. It was like a big puzzle and I could use the camera to create pieces to make the picture I wanted to portray. This turned into freelance filming for a lot of BMX brands and media outlets. I quit the bike shop and was lucky enough to be able to survive off of freelance video work. I dove further into filming and began to film full-time. This was fun for awhile, but with the BMX industry taking a big hit from the economy and scooters, I decided to go in another direction.
How long has opening a shop of your own been something you wanted to do?
Ever since I started working at a bike shop. The owner always wanted to own a motorcycle shop and ended up opening a bicycle shop. I could see the lack of love he had for bicycles and wished I was in his position some day.
Unfortunately, at one point I was financially stable enough to open my own shop, but I didn’t want to commit to that much work. I felt drained working for someone else and blew that opportunity. When I realized what I did, I worked my ass off to change that.
Why did now seem like the right time to pull the trigger and make this happen?
Pretty much everything worked out. My friend had a spot I could rent, a lot of my friends were starting bike companies, and I figured I could help sell their stuff and support people in BMX for the right reason. Plus, it’s pretty hard to come by a shop that carries BMX, so that made it pretty easy.
Tell us a bit about your location. It’s very different from most shops out there…
Stacked BMX is located in the back section of my buddy’s barber shop - Ghoe’s Barber Shop. It is kind of a speakeasy, similar to when the United States banned alcohol. That’s what BMX seems like to me. It feels like we are banned from regular bicycle shops for some reason. So, I decided to put a little twist on it. Plus, keeping the rent down helps.
Aside from finding a location, what else went into bringing Stacked to life?
I don’t even know how to start. I did a lot myself with help from a handful of my close buddies. Once I found out I was opening a shop, I started with the name and design. Once I figured out the name, I started designing our branding. We wanted to label ourselves as actual riders and encourage our fellow audience to progress in a positive way. We knew Stacked would be perfect. It motivates you to do anything. Stack landings, stack clips, stack followers, stack paper.
From there, we built our website and then moved on to a promo. We filmed for it for about six months prior to opening the shop.. To open the shop, I went in there two months in advance and went to work. I built a 16x10” wall, work bench, clothing shelves, and parts display. It was pretty hard because I would have to start at 8:30pm and end at 5:00am due to the dust and noise I created building it. On top of that, I was filming and doing other freelance duties in the meantime.
What is your overall goal with Stacked?
My goal is to help any BMXer on the West Coast get exactly what they want to try. I want to try and understand riders’ problems and help them with a solution to keep them riding. We all know if it’s a day you’re not riding, it’s a bad day. On top of that, I want to contribute to other riders’ projects that support BMX. Whether it’s sponsoring a rider, giving away product for a jam, running ads on BMX websites - whatever grows BMX. That is what Stacked is about.
It seems like you handle your brand / team rider relationships a bit different than the average shop. Can you explain that?
Yeah, I would love to. I want all of the team riders to follow their dreams and I am here to help. If they want to become pro, I am going to help them. If they want to go across the world, I am going to help them. They know that I expect the same in return. Me and my homies are tighter than a glove.
Who is the actual Stacked team?
Right now, Jourdan Barba and Matt Closson are on the pro team. Erik Noonan is on the AM team and Ray Trujillo is on the flow team. We have our eye out for a couple more dudes.
Do you want to expand the shop or are you happy with the way things are right now?
Obviously I don’t want to be in someone else’s establishment. We already have plans and have been working on a new location. We just knew we would be slow when we started and didn’t want to waste money. We are trying to stay business savvy. We are open to expansion in any direction - whatever helps BMX, we are down.
Mailorder… Do you have any ambition to go that route or nah?
It is 2014. Mailorder just makes sense nowadays. We are running a local BMX shop and would love it if riders mail ordered stuff for form us. We will do our best to supply you with the best product and support you back. Hit us up if you have any questions about BMX parts or clothing.
I was stoked to see you guys regularly doing “Monthly Rides” with all of the locals. What brought this on?
The homie Polo from Moto Tecnica invited me to a ride in East Los Angeles when I first started riding and it was dope! So, I was like “I’m trying to do dope stuff, so I am gonna do one too.” Thanks, Polo
What’s next for Larry Alvarado and Stacked BMX?
Go to work tomorrow and support the homies. Stay stackin’, my friends!
Thanks to everyone that helped… In the past, the shop, our team riders, brands we carry, all of the riders who attended our jams and rides, bought stuff, told a friend… You guys rule!