Dropping In: Mike Bricke at The HOUSE of Vista

By Reuben Barrack

 Mike Bricke embodies something you won’t find on the web or on any corporate salesfloor: loyalty and respect for the local community. It takes a certain panache to run a successful skate shop, especially in an era of online convenience and chain stores at the mall fighting for attention within the industry. Bricke’s shop The HOUSE of Vista is on the cusp of celebrating its five year anniversary this month, and Mike has evolved as a pillar for all skaters in and around the city by running his business while also managing to hit the streets in his spare time. Inclusivity is the main message for him and his homies, whether they’re hanging out at the shop or stacking clips for his most recent video series Home Movies

Every time I slide through to the HOUSE, I feel right at home, in the sense that there’s posters and photographs plastered all over the walls with relics of San Diego skate history and a plethora of classic VHS tapes. It’s like an extension of my childhood room! This familiar aesthetic is enough to make any skater feel comfortable at the HOUSE. Their amount of community involvement through hosting video premiers, jam sessions, bbqs, and any other skater-related event imaginable only continues to strengthen Vista’s skate scene as a whole. Mike’s dedication to his town is clear, and as these skater-oriented attractions garner more support, he further expands upon the rich skate history Vista has to offer.

Nothing but smiles, even when gettin’ the boot.
Photo: Kurt Hodge

What’s up Mike? How’s it going?

Good man, just hanging out [at the HOUSE] on a Monday afternoon. 

Where are you from? How old are you?

I was born in New Hampshire. I lived on the east coast for around the first 10 years of my life. Then I moved out here to Vista, CA and I’ve been here ever since. I’m 30 years old now, so I’ve been living [here] for about 20 years. 

How’d you first get into skating? Who were some of the dudes you grew up skating with?

I started skating a little bit on the east coast, but pretty much got fully into it as soon as I moved out here with my two older brothers Jon and Ted, mostly. We lived in the foothills of Vista, so it was hard to get anywhere to skate. So we just built a bunch of boxes and kicker ramps at [our] house with a bank ramp and stuff. 

What was your favorite local shop growing up?

There were two shops in Vista. There was one called Zuba, which was a small, rinky-dink shop. And then there was Decade, which was a little bit bigger. I would go to Decade, mostly. That was my go-to shop in Vista. Then there was also Urban in San Marcos that we’d go to a lot. We went to our first video premier at Urban!

Nice! Which video was that?

Double Guns. It was a local homie video.

Mike put down the VX and handled this hubba with a 5050 before the cops came.
Photo: Kurt Hodge

What made you want to open your own skate shop? When did the HOUSE officially open?

I think it’s anyone’s dream [who] skates to do something like that, to have a shop or have a brand. It was always something that I wanted to do, and then it became a possibility around the end of 2014. So, we opened the shop in March of 2015. 

Did you have another location before here? 

No, we’ve been in the same spot here on Santa Fe since day one. 

Hell yeah, holding it down! How was the initial response from the skate scene and local community when the HOUSE first opened?

It was good! Decade had closed about four or five years before we opened, so there was no real, skater owned skate shop in Vista anymore. There were just two… I don’t know how to describe them. They were almost like a swap meet inside of a building. Once we heard the skateparks were going to get built, we kind of knew that we needed to have a good shop to represent the city. And the response was really good! We got a lot of support from the community and even the whole industry welcomed us. Without the support of everyone, we wouldn’t be here today, which is very much appreciated. Coming up on five years [this] March!

Mike doing a FSG on his late lunch break at the HOUSE, but no lunch breaks on the QP.
Photo: Kurt Hodge

What’s the best part about owning a skate shop?

The best part is that there are so many upsides to it. You get to see your whole community, as far as skating goes, from beginners to legends and everyone in between. It’s cool to see people get their first board, progress and learn their first tricks. It’s really special to be a part of that. 

“It’s cool to see people get their first board, progress and learn their first tricks.”

Yeah! Especially with people like Rowan specifically.

By the time we even opened the shop, he was on to doing his thing with Baker and was already on Vans at that point, too. It’s cool to see on that level, but [also] on a local level, just seeing kids come in and either go one way or the other: they get into skating for a little bit and then drift away from it later on, and you see that happen, too. Or you see these kids who actually stick with it and get really into it. Like Jake [Cortez], for example, who works at the shop with me. Seen him grow up from a thirteen year old kid into a full skate guy. 

Having said that, what would you say is your least favorite part about owning a skate shop?

The struggles are as endless as the perks. All the responsibility comes on you, so it can be tough to manage your time. Probably the hardest part would be not being able to skate as much and just juggling your personal life with your business life, and keeping everything balanced. But again, the pros outweigh the cons all day.

How do you manage to stay relevant during this ‘amazon age’ we’re in? 

I think the experience of going to a skate shop is still very important, and that’s what keeps people coming back. We’re straight up with anyone who comes in here, we never try to push anything on anyone or anything like that. People can sense that and respond well to that. Also, just being a skater myself, and not just some dude that ‘used to skate’ or whatever. I definitely try to still get out and skate as much as possible which keeps us relevant amongst the younger kids too. 

It’s a trip to see kids come in wearing Footage Party shirts that are like twelve years old! And I’m like, ‘Woah, you were seven when that video came out’ [laughs]. It’s cool to see it still maintain its relevance. Just doing what we’ve always done though, not trying to overthink it and just go with the flow. Stay true to the reasons why we started doing this in the first place.

Hodge with Shieldless master lensman and Co-Founder Nick Shields inside the HOUSE. We’re watchin’ you behind the lens this time!
Photo: Barrack

What’s the best part about being in Vista?

Vista has a lot of history in skateboarding and it’s cool to try and maintain/represent that. Danny Way is from Vista, Matt Hensley is from Vista. Two of the best skateboarders of all time! There’s a lot of growth happening in Vista as far as skating is going because of the two new skate parks. It’s great to just be a part of that, rather than be somewhere that might be harder to stand out. 

We were lucky to start [the HOUSE] when we did because I feel like someone else could have done it too, you know? There’s just potential, it’s nice to be a part of that and grow with that. 

I have a lot of hometown pride for Vista because of growing up skating here. I just wanted to represent the city in a way that I felt like it should be, as far as skating goes and the history that came with it. 

“I just wanted to represent the city in a way that I felt like it should be, as far as skating goes and the history that came with it.” 

Who are some local Vista rippers? Who’s on the come up for the HOUSE?

Jonno [Gaitan], definitely. Noah Lora. Jared Gholston. Really stoked on all the dudes who ride for us, they all kill it and they all bring something different to the table. It’s nice that we all have a camaraderie. But yeah, a lot of those guys, they all kill it. Nick Pope. Freakin’ Max Fisher. And then there’s Kurt Hodge and Derm [Collins], who have always been killin’ it and always will be. Justice Lora. A bunch of guys! Oh, Lyric Bennett, too, the lil homie. And Bryan Castillo. Those kids are really cool! Juan Garcia, little park rats. Lucas, I don’t know his last name, but he rips. 

That’s another thing that I was talking about earlier. Seeing those kids develop into little skate rats, it’s just cool to be a part of that. Because if I wasn’t, I’m already out of touch [laughs]. It’s cool to see what these kids are into. Lyric’s like a fuckin’ blast from the past! He’s straight up out of the 90s. He just knows what’s up, and he’s got a bright future I think. 

Vista park after dark, Mr. Bricke with a surgarcane on the big bank.
Photo: Kurt Hodge

That’s so sick that you get you see that! How does that feel for everything to have come full circle for you: growing up in the community, skating here, mixed with the experiences you had as a kid going to a skateshop compared to owning one now? 

Yeah, it’s a trip! And honestly, this isn’t calling out any shops in particular, but I try to do what sometimes I didn’t feel like I got from other shops. You know? As far as trying to involve the kids. I don’t know all their names, it’s hard to keep track of all these little groms running around [laughs]. I just try to do some of the things that make you feel like you’re a part of the crew, part of the gang, part of the shop. It’s a trip man! It was weird at first [laughs]. It took me a little while to get used to going to the skate park and being the shop owner, instead of being able to go skate and not have to have an identity. Now I have to represent the [HOUSE] everytime I go. 

It took an adjustment, I had to take on a new role. It carries a new responsibility and I definitely take it seriously, trying to be a good role model for these kids. But at the same time, I’m also going to be myself too. I actually tell those kids that ‘If you have good grades, bring [them] in, show me, and I’ll give you wheels or whatever.’ I call it academic sponsorships

Dude, that’s seriously one of the best ways to hype kids up to keep skating but also get their shit together. That inspires a lot of people more than you know. It’s so important to let them know that early on that they have options. You can do both! You can skate and also work hard in school. You don’t just have to pick one or the other. That’s fucking rad! 

Let’s transition a bit: When did you get sparked to film VX?

Since when I started filming, really. All the videos we grew up watching were VX. At first I got a Canon GL2, my dad was like ‘Naaah, get this!’ [laughs].

Mike taking a whole new approach to filming fisheye with Elijah Anderson (@elijahdonovan_) , take notes Ty!
Photo: Kurt Hodge

I had one of those too, dude…

It was the worst decision of my life [laughs]! I still have it to this day, too. I used to use it as a capture camera. Once I kind of knew what people were filming with, like ‘Oh, it’s a VX1 with a Mark 1,’ that was the goal to get that. First I got the VX, and I got a Mark 2, and I had to get a ring to adapt it and man, it looked like fuckin’ caca [laughs]. But it worked, it was sick. And then once I met my friend Clint, he really showed me how to set the camera, and then I got a [MK1] after that. Ever since then I’ve just been using [VX], not out of any other particular reason other than that I like using it. It’s just convenient [for] my computer setup and editing program.  

Which skate videos had the biggest impact on the way you put together your videos?

The videos that inspired me a lot were Zero videos, especially my skating. I wanted to skate like that. Jamie Thomas with his fast-paced editing, that shit gets you fired up. But also Flip Sorry, Menikmati, and Modus Operandi. Those were some of the early videos that I bought from skate shops. That was my favorite experience going to skate shops, buying new videos, which is such a bummer that [it’s] a lost experience for a lot of kids nowadays. A lot of people don’t get to have that, and if they do, it’s a lot of people my age coming to buy the video [laughs]. As far as my editing style, I was never smart enough to know really what was influencing me. Like a lot of younger people, they just emulate the things that they are attracted to. 

I liked Baker videos too, and how raw they were, but I also liked more street style stuff. Not necessarily even skate stuff, more like Ian Reid’s video Sex, Hood, Skate and Videotape. Just all that stuff in between the skating, which is also in all the Baker videos. When I started making the Footage Party videos, the biggest influence on that is Vics Market. I think if you watch them, you’ll actually make the connection. They kill it way harder though, they’re fucking so sick. It’s Jordan Sanchez, from Welcome, with him and homies. They just film each other and goof around. It just looked so fun, and I wanted to try and do what those guys were doing too. 

Mike repping his pride for Vista on his board while doing a blurry bean plant. Photo: Kurt Hodge

Any good lost footage stories from a VX fucking up?

I think I’ve been pretty lucky with that, for the most part. I’ve definitely had clips glitch. One time, I filmed my friend Austin Gardener lipslide this shoot-out rail, and it glitched super bad, like unuseable. And I don’t know how, we watched it and played it back like ‘Ahhh dude, it’s fucked up!’ But we were able to film it again and it worked out. As far as footage getting lost, there’s probably been a couple tricks for sure. There’s definitely stuff that I haven’t used that’s pretty funny, and those are for different reasons [laughs]. There was one from Home Movies II, the video we just put out. It was in it, but I took it out: it’s my friend eating a potato bug. I took it out because we were playing it at a restaurant, and I didn’t want to gross everyone out. I forgot to put it back in, so it’s just not in the video. But I was like ‘Maaan, that clip is cool.’ [laughs] 

“It was in it, but I took it out: it’s my friend eating a potato bug.”

How did Footage Party come about? Who is a part of Footage Party and how did you all meet?

Pat [Burke] used to say it a lot, and a bunch of people. We all used to say it when we used to film and go skate around Vista or wherever, and we’d be like ‘Let’s go back to the house and have footage parties!’ It was my parent’s house at the time, so we’d go up into my room and have some beers and capture the footage and then play it all back at once. But Kurt and Derm are really key components to it, especially Kurt. He would do the grip and he linked up with [this] dude Kirk Musey at Black Box who made the graphic for us. We both were just younger and skating all the time. It was something we could put our energy into creatively. He had his aspect to it and I was doing the videos. Definitely Kurt and Derm were initially there when it started. It was us going filming and like ‘Oh, we’re going to make a video now!’ And then everybody just got involved. It’s always been an open thing to let anyone into. Whoever we’re skating with a lot at the time usually ends up with a part. I would say core members [laughs] would be Kurt, Derm, and Pat. These are all people from the first video. Cyle [Conger], Rowan, Jet [Caputo], Peanut, my brother Jon, throw myself in there, Nick Pope, and Max Fisher. A bunch of people! It’s always just been the homies.

Kurt and Mike, core Footage Party members posted out back of the HOUSE.
Photo: Barrack

What’s your favorite trip you went on filming for Footage Party?

The SF 30 G’s trip. We don’t really go on that many trips though, that’s the thing. Hardly ever go to LA, we’ll go down to San Diego, but most of it is around Vista. We made a lot of trips to SF when Jet was living up there. So, the last one that we did was almost two years ago. Kurt and Derm were on it. Kurt’s always on [trips], but Derm was special because we hadn’t really gone on a trip together. I had a van full of [about] seven people, he had a van full of eight or nine people, and we had a fat squad up there. It was cool, we got a lot of footage. Got to skate Black Rock and all the cool downtown spots. I went to Clipper for my first time on that trip too!

For those that don’t know, what’s the meaning behind 30 G’s?

Well, it’s come to take on many meanings [laughs]. Originally, it was just 30 grams of weed, that we were taking on the trip. The homie came to the shop and was like ‘I got 30 G’s!!!’ So we were driving up to [SF] and we started singing these songs ‘30 G’s, dun nuh nah!’ [laughs] Just rockin’ out and goofing around. And then it took on all the dudes from the trip, like ‘Ahhh we’re 30 G’s,’ but there was only 15 of us [laughs]. Now it’s a homie thing, just shout ‘30 G’s!’ A camaraderie, I guess. That’s definitely more of what it means than what it initially started as. It’s a fond memory of the trip, which transferred into part of our day-to-day, how we talk to each other. 

It’s cool to see the evolution of terms that start as a joke.

It’s like some bro shit! [laughs] We definitely get riled up every time we all start chanting it. Jonno had a whole song to it which is pretty epic. 

Oh shit! I gotta listen to that. 

Someone’s got it on their phone somewhere. 

Not sure about the exact amount of heads on this tee, but it’s lookin’ like 30 G’s to me!
Photo: Barrack

You recently started Home Movies and just finished Vol. II. What other projects are in the works right now?

Want to do a few more installments on the Home Movies projects. Trying to promote the shop a little bit through stuff like that. As I talked about Footage Party before, how it’s open to anyone, I want these Home Movies to represent the riders of the shop more. The dudes who are around here day-to-day and skating together. So that’s the goal with that, but again, it’s whatever we end up with. Initially, I wanted it to only be five tapes. Film five tapes and then put out a montage. But it’s hard to control stuff like that, you know? It seems like it’s been every six months that we’ve been able to put one out, which I’m pretty hyped on that, instead of filming for a video for a couple years. I don’t put a deadline on it at all, so it’s just what everyone ends up with. Like Jared, for example, ended up having a part which wasn’t planned out. It wasn’t until I started editing it, and I’m like ‘Okay, today’s the last weekend that we’re going to film.’ And just call it after that. Then I spend another couple of weeks trying to edit it. It’s a fun way to do it, it keeps it fresh. It seems like everyone involved in it has the same response to that. It keeps everyone motivated, even if they don’t get a clip or they only have one clip, then they’re like ‘Next one, let’s film more!’ That’s exactly what I was hoping would happen with that, too. 

Yeah dude, that Jared part was a rad surprise! I was fucking stoked on that.

I didn’t tell him about it, either. He was pretty surprised, and I’ve never really done that before. Usually with every project they know if they’re going to have a part. Could try to keep some things a little underwraps, but usually they want to see the progress of it. So it was cool to put it out, and I remember at the premier I could kind of tell when it was over I was looking [at Jared] and he was like ‘Where’s my stuff??’ because the credits start and then it goes into his [part]. 

Pulled it off!

[Jared] pulled it off, he killed it! Dude’s gnarly. 

How do you differentiate footage for Home Movies and clips for Footage Party?

Right now, it all goes into one bucket. It’s just Home Movies, I’m not really doing the Footage Party stuff as much. But again, I always felt like the HOUSE and Footage Party are connected. The good thing about Footage Party is that it’s not the HOUSE. It happens to be a bunch of dudes from the HOUSE, but it could be anyone skating together. I want to do another Footage Party video though, in the future. In my head, those are homie videos, and I want to try and make shop videos right now. 

Sunday sunset session with a solid squad, sprinkled with beers and bangers. Mike making the most of his day off.
Photo: Barrack

Why do you think homie and shop videos are important to skateboarding?

I think it’s the best way to be involved with the skate community around you and showcase it. And it’s super fun! This is what I grew up doing: making videos with my friends. It’s great that kids have that accessibility with their phones now too because they can just skate with their buddies and film each other. You’re going to progress by doing that, there’s no way around that. You’re going to see [footage] and want to do better stuff or want to do [tricks] better, or do [tricks] on something bigger. That’s one of the funnest ways to progress, that’s how I grew up skating. 

It’s funny, I always think about the magazine generation compared to the video generation, and how they’re like ‘Fuck videos!’ But videos are sick [laughs]. It gets you sparked man. You watch a skate video and it makes you hyped to go skate. It can influence the clothes you wear to the music you listen to. It’s a good way to share what you’re into. I think that’s the funnest thing about skating, is making videos and filming with your friends. 

“I think that’s the funnest thing about skating, is making videos and filming with your friends.” 

How do you manage working at the shop and filming/editing these vids?

It’s pretty hard to find the time to film. I’m at the shop everyday, but I get at least a day off a week to go out and film. So I try to utilize that day, which is usually on Sundays. Try to make the most of it. If we come back with a clip, then hell yeah! If we come back with nothing, that’s still cool. For editing, I just do it at the shop. I do it while I’m working, basically. It’s pretty tough, honestly. Once you get in the mode, and you get interrupted, it’s hard to get back into it sometimes. I’m pretty used to it now, but it was a challenge at first to get adjusted to that. 

I like editing in my room, just being able to focus on what I’m doing. Just have to find [my] moments at the shop when there’s downtime. Get behind the computer, lay out a timeline, go back to it later and poke around at it a little more and move stuff around. All the stuff that I really enjoy doing, and did a lot before I opened the shop, it’s hard to maintain that [now] a little bit. But that’s all a part of growing up, too. I was 25 when I started the shop, and the way I look at it, I’d rather be here doing [this] than working for someone else. Doing whatever in a warehouse, or wherever I might work. It’s a sacrifice, but it comes with the territory.  

Mike working his magic while Vin Dogg films this last minute smith kickflip for Hodge’s part in FTV5.
Photo: Barrack

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business in the skate industry?

I can only give advice as far as starting a skate shop, but I would say just know the territory you’re in. Know the community and know what people are into. That was the easiest way to do it for me; it would just be hard to start something new somewhere else. If I moved somewhere and didn’t know anyone there, or didn’t know what they were into, it’s hard to cater to the community as far as that goes. And also, know what the community is missing and try to fit that need. 

“…know what the community is missing and try to fit that need.”

I’m still learning as I go too man! Everyday you make mistakes and have to fix them. It’s a learning process. I’d ask them to give me advice [laughs]. But just go for it! You also have to have the confidence to do it. Go fully into it. Eat, sleep and breathe it. Be all about it, and I think you’ll get back from it what you put into it. 

Brothers Bricke, Mike and Ted giving the family home a whole new meaning everyday behind the shop counter.
Photo: Barrack

Any last words/anyone you want to shoutout?

Shoutout my brother Ted, he’s my business partner. I wouldn’t be able to do this without him. He does a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff, but if you come to the shop everyone knows [him]. He’s the best. My mom, my dad, my sister, my brother Jon. They support what I’m doing, big time, and that goes a long way. All our customers that come in and have continued to come into the shop, show us love on instagram and social media. All the kids that support Footage Party and the stuff that we do, because without them we wouldn’t be here today. A big thanks to everyone that comes into the shop and keeps us going. 

Hell yeah, that’s it! That’s all I got, unless there’s anything else you want to touch on?

Was it good? Should we redo it? [laughs]

Yeah, I think it glitched or something!

Speaking of lost clips, maybe lose this one… [laughs]

Tall tailslide in Oside, Mike shows the little skate rats how it’s done.
Photo: River Ramirez

Keep up with The HOUSE of Vista on Instagram @thehouseofvista

See what Mike’s up to on the gram @mikrick

Follow Kurt (@krutaj) and River (@ramirezriver) to see more rad photos.

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