WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — It's easy to miss Casino Skate Shop.
After all, Washington Heights' newest skateboarder store is almost hidden, tucked away between vacant storefronts and down a flight of steps on the corner of West 187th Street and Audubon Avenue.
If you didn't know what you were looking for, you'd walk right by it. And that's just the way that co-owner Eusebio Baez likes it.
"I wanted something that was kind of hidden. I didn't want to have something on a main street," Baez said. "That intimidates skaters. Us skaters, we just stay with our group of people.
"I wanted something quiet and low key, where kids can come hang out and watch videos."
Casino, which opened in early April at 450 Audubon Ave., is indeed low-key. The store is minimally decorated, with a few shelves for skateboards and hats, poles for sweatshirts and T-shirts, a grind rail in the corner, and a television where Baez and co-owner Roberto Martinez show skate videos.
But just because it's quiet doesn't mean it's been struggling. Baez, 23, said business has been brisk in the store's first month, as skaters from all over the neighborhood have made the trek.
"It's been surprisingly good," he said. "We didn't promote it, we did it kind of a surprise."
At Casino, shoppers can choose from more than 30 different skateboard designs that range from $45-$55, along with wheels that start at $25 and gear, including hats from 5 Boro NYC and T-shirts and sweatshirts from Thrasher Magazine.
Baez, who lives in the Bronx but spent weekends with his grandmother on 163rd Street, is a lifelong skateboarder who was inspired to open the shop after spending time in Peru in 2012.
"I was just there skating every day in Peru," said Baez, who added that store's name came from the abundance of casinos in the South American country.
Baez has sacrificed to open the shop, selling his car and computers to raise money to get Casino off the ground and give Washington Heights skate boarders a shop of their own.
"I'm pretty tired of always have to go to lower Manhattan to get a board to come back up here and skate," Baez said.
He plans to make a Casino a haven for shoppers, adding that the shop will host promo events in the future, including a pizza and soda party in the coming weeks.
Casino Skate Shop is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org