Community Service, Denver

Community Service

By Billy Woodward

Anyone paying attention to the local scene is hearing a lot about a new store down on the east side of Broadway just north of Hampden named Community Service. Why Community Service though? The stigma behind those words doesn’t seem to fit with the underground graffiti sub-culture that we love so much. “The name Community Service was decided upon over one of the many meetings that took place when forming the idea and the company itself. One of the Owners had just finished with his mandatory community service and said ‘Man wouldn’t it be ill if you actually liked doing community service.’  The Name is a metaphor for how the owners want themselves and the company to be viewed,” says Ricky Langdon “It really comes down to showing the community in which we reside that we want to give back and be a positive force in something that is looked down upon by the general public.”

The first time I heard about Community Service was from a boss of mine named Keith who grew up with Ricky, at this point the idea was still just word of mouth and some blueprints. All I knew was that a few former managers of the Zumiez retail giant were going to form their own company after a disillusioning parting with Zumiez. It took walking into the shop for the first time, just looking for some different paint, and striking up a conversation with the guys to really get a feeling and an understand for what they are all about, and how passionate they were. “If you want a place where you’ll be treated like a friend and not a customer this is where you need to be,” says Ian Kleinman, Co-Owner of Community Service. I found that to be true by lately going in just to play some Xbox with the guys. The beautiful murals, large paint selection, and hanging gallery of local artists wouldn’t be nearly as effective without the obvious passion for street art displayed by the staff. I found the same camaraderie displayed to me is shown to all who walk through the door, “The shop was and is meant to be a place for likeminded individuals to grow their own style in fashion, art, and whatever else might happen in between.”  It is apparent that the two owners truly believe in this medium, displayed by the events put on at least twice a month whether it’s some new paint on the walls from prominent local artists like East, Pager, and Kans89, or having Denver Scratch Sessions come down and put on a show. Something is always going on down there.

With the economy in trouble and spending at an all time low the question people who know I shop at community service ask me is always “why should I shop there if I can just go to Zumiez?” A question I posed to both owners. I was received with a short laugh and a tour of the different clothing around the shop, where they have local artists who promote their clothing on the racks (like Company of Artists and Isvera) along with the high-end paints and markers, goodwood products, and rare art books. I knew that this wasn’t stuff that could be found just anywhere, but was very specific to the street art community. I take my business to Community Service and so do the rest of the artists I paint with, and we will continue to because of the solidarity we find there. My recommendation is to go in yourself and make a judgment, just make sure to allow yourself enough time to poke around a bit because undoubtedly you’ll get into a lengthy and in-depth conversation about some of the art with the staff, or (more frequently for myself) get sucked into a game of Mortal Kombat.

Community Service is at 3356 S Broadway Englewood,CO 80113. Their hours are Tues-Sat 11am-8pm and Sun 11am-6pm. They’re closed Mondays.

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I am mild mannered, cold blooded and wildly perverse.