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July 23, 2014

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This mom’s, like, totally rad

Her teenage son wanted a skateboard shop — and she said OK

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Sam Morris

Michelle Bromelia, aka Momma Grindz, teases her son, Connor, on Monday at her Henderson skate shop, Grindz. Bromelia, a real estate agent, opened the shop in 2007 and has used social networking Web sites to market it.

Michelle Bromelia surely qualifies as one of the coolest moms in the world.

Her son, Connor, wanted a skateboard shop near their Henderson home. She thought about it, took her son out for cheeseburgers one afternoon and, while they sipped on soda refills, decided that she would do it.

She typed out a business plan on her cell phone.

They had to come up with a name. She liked Mom’s Skate Shop. Teenage son did not.

They settled on Grindz, playing on the name of a skateboarding trick.

Five months later she opened the shop in a strip mall on Eastern Avenue shared by a veterinarian, a beauty salon and an Orthodox Jewish center.

But it’s not just a skate shop.

The 1,280-square-foot store represents a second career for the 44-year-old Bromelia.

She’s a real estate agent and, as you might imagine, saw this as the perfect time for a new venture.

If you told the mother of three that she would be a skateboard maven two years ago?

“I would have laughed and said you were smoking crack.”

She found the storefront and started gathering inventory of skateboard wheels, pads, clothes, sunglasses and posters, investing about $200,000 of her real estate earnings. In August 2007 the neon sign went up and the sticker-covered doors opened.

She got some of her kids’ friends to work the counter and began Internet marketing on MySpace and Facebook.

The shop has been breaking even and Bromelia — they call her Momma Grindz in skateboarding circles — sees a time when it will make good money.

She has plans for expanding and possibly creating a skate park in a neighboring vacant storefront.

The Grindz name has been gaining exposure by sponsoring a team of amateur skaters and participating in charitable causes.

But for now she’s still working on real estate deals, using the back room of the store as her office.

“Grindz will never make as much money as real estate,” she says, surrounded by boxes of skate shoes. “But it’s more fun.”

The fun comes when she attends skate conventions and deals with the free-spirited sales reps for companies with such names as Zoo York and Toy Machine.

It’s not the button-down real estate business.

And she gets to hang out with her kids.

Her 10-year-old, Marissa, can pretty much run the store, which has given her street cred in school.

“The boys all like her because her mom owns Grindz,” Momma Grindz says.

Marissa rolls her eyes. “No they don’t,” she says.

Bromelia has to get back to customers. It’s Saturday and yes, the skateboard shop is getting busy. But the kids can handle that.

Bromelia has to head out and seal the deal on a house.

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