Death and Glory Skate Shop quietly opened its doors on Dec. 1 inside the old church at 935 W. 11th Ave. — emphasis on quietly.
It was a soft open, for one thing. The grand opening isn’t until Jan. 11. For another thing, there is no rink inside, as several City Council members and at least one neighbor were wondering about when the Scum of the Earth Church asked to rezone their property and open up a skate shop.
True to his word, former Scum of the Earth Church pastor and now Death and Glory owner Jesse Heilmann did not put a roller rink inside the church. There’s space to try out a new set of wheels, but the shop didn’t do much in the way of permanent building. There’s a glass display case up and a set of lockers that can’t be moved, but all the other shelves and racks can be cleared out of the way for church services on Sundays.
Aside from its connection with an alternative Christian church, Death and Glory has the distinction of being the only roller derby gear shop in Denver — or really anywhere near it. Derbyville used to fill the need, but it closed on South Broadway years ago. Meanwhile, roller derby and the park skating scene continue to grow, said Leah Parlett, aka Marvel Menace, a manager at Death and Glory and roller derby player with the Wreckin’ Roller Rebels.
“It’s either drive an hour down south to Colorado Springs or you go up to Loveland. There’s really nothing in the area, considering there are so many teams,” she said. “I play derby and I park skate, and in order to get something simple, you have to either order it or drive an hour. If you skate, you need one of everything in [the shop]. So it’s just a need that Derbyville used to fill.”
After the Bay Area, the Front Range has the biggest roller derby scene with somewhere around 10 teams, Heilmann said. Parlett described it as a “pretty close-knit community.”
“One of the most famous skaters (Lady Trample) is moving to Denver,” Heilmann said, “because the scene is big but also because her girlfriend (Scald Eagle) is a rock star herself and plays here.”
Death and Glory is filling a pretty big hole in the scene as a shop, and also supporting it as a sponsor of a new rink in a warehouse at 2375 S. Delaware St. The practice and bout space is home to the regions top teams, Denver Roller Derby and Rocky Mountain Rollergirls. They’re holding their first bouts there on Saturday at 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
As for their relationship with Scum of the Earth, things are going smoothly. In fact they’re legally the same thing, operating as a DBA (doing business as).
“[We’re] trying to stay out of each other’s way, but at the same time we’re trying to overlap — be good to the church community and the church community be good to the derby community,” Heilmann said.