Hannah Wood / Talent Skatepark

Start Here Podcast | EPISODE #65 | 03/02/22

Sam & Dave sit down with Vermont legend Hannah Wood, founder of the beloved Talent Skatepark.

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#StartHere PODCAST: Episode 65 with Hannah Wood of Talent Skatepark.


Hannah Wood (00:03):

Skateboarding is hard. Why am I telling you guys that? Because I don’t want you to quit before you even get started. It’s wicked frustrating and you have to be ready to fall and get back up.

Sam (00:18):

From Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies. It’s Start Here podcast sharing the stories of active, aspiring, and accidental entrepreneurs. Today we sit down with Vermont legend, Hannah Wood, founder of the beloved skate park talent. Welcome. This is Sam Roach, Gerber

Dave (00:35):

and Dave Bradbury

Sam (00:35):

Recording from the Consolidated Communications Technology hub in downtown Burlington, Vermont. Hi Hannah.

Hannah Wood (00:43):


Sam (00:43):

I’m so glad you’re here.

Hannah Wood (00:44):

Thank you. I’m very happy to be here.

Sam (00:46):

Yay. I, I, when I told Dave that we had booked a podcast with you, he nearly fainted out of joy.

Dave (00:51):

I thought she was messing with me, you know, like, like, oh, psych.

Sam (00:55):

He was like, shut up. And I was like, yeah, she’s coming

Hannah Wood (00:58):

Here I am.

Sam (00:59):

And here she is.

Dave (01:00):

So awesome.

Sam (01:01):

Hannah, how did you get into skateboarding?

Hannah Wood (01:03):

Yeah. Skateboarding.

Sam (01:06):

You heard of it?

Hannah Wood (01:07):

Those skateboarding boys. When I was in high school were like the coolest things I had ever met, seen the way they dressed, the way they carried themselves. I loved them. Um, and the only way to get to know them was the skateboard. So that was kind of my crew in high school later in high school, probably around junior year is when I met the skateboard crew. And I hosted the first and maybe the only skateboard competition at Colchester high school, 1989.

Sam (01:37):

Oh my God. Yes. First of all, love the honesty with that answer. Um, so did you wait till you got like good at skateboarding before you like,

Hannah Wood (01:45):

No, no, no, no, no. It was more, um, you know, everyone loves the filmer. Everyone loves the person taking pictures. I don’t think we were filming them, but maybe some, some still photos that you would have to wait to get developed and then throw, most of them away cause they didn’t come out. Um, and just watching and having a blast. It was just my crew. They were awesome.

Sam (02:08):

I love that.

Hannah Wood (02:09):

It was awesome for me, but the, you know, they got a lot of slack from the older classmen and,

Dave (02:15):

Oh yeah. Lettin’ in the lady. Yeah?

Hannah Wood (02:17):

Well the jocks, you know, they didn’t respect the skateboarding, so it was kind of a weird mix, um, going through high school.

Dave (02:25):

Yeah. You think that is that sort of tension still there or, or more just accepted? That’s what you’re into.

Hannah Wood (02:32):

I think skateboarding goes up and down where sometimes they’re like skater boys. Yeah! And then other times it’s like, ugh, skateboarders.

Sam (02:41):


New Speaker (02:41):

Hooligans, punks. I do in my heart of hearts believe that Talent Skatepark. Um, over the past 20 years really diminished that negative, um, outlook on skateboarding. There will always be the anarchy with skateboarding and, and all that. And that’s, that’s part of the culture for sure. But to get started is much easier now than it was.

Dave (03:07):

Uh, 100% agree. Uh, our two boys, um, lived a lot on Saturdays, uh, up at the, the facility and it changed them. And my impression of everybody there was supportive, it was old, young, beginners, experts, just, just having a ball and it was nothing but positive. And that was, that was a surprise cuz uh,

Hannah Wood (03:32):


Dave (03:32):

I’m a recovering skateboard myself.

Hannah Wood (03:34):

A recovering haha.

Dave (03:36):

I still have my original skateboard.

Hannah Wood (03:37):

Do you?

Dave (03:38):

21 inch Sims woodkicks got the kryptonite wheels.

New Speaker (03:41):

Oh dang.

Dave (03:42):

It’s like really it’s on a exalted place in my garage and I’ve forbidden my kids from taking it.

Hannah Wood (03:49):

I love it.

Dave (03:50):


Sam (03:50):

I didn’t know you had street credit here, Dave. I’m,

Dave (03:53):

Totally. I saved – oh gosh, I forget what year it was, but man, it was like 41 bucks to buy and I worked my ass off bailing hay and, and doing odd jobs and stuff just to be able to go down and buy that.

Hannah Wood (04:03):

Where did you buy it? Do you remember?

Dave (04:05):

I was in Acton, Mass – (inaudible), Mass. Yeah. So it was, there was like one skate shop, in like the whole territory. So not many options, but yeah.

Hannah Wood (04:13):

Awesome. I love that story. That’s fantastic. But you should let them roll it around.

Dave (04:18):

Well, you know they do, they’re boys. They totally. I mean,

Hannah Wood (04:21):

And I, I just do wanna add that despite I’m talking about all the skater boys that is slowly actually quite quickly now changing to skater girls, the numbers part –

Sam (04:32):

Hell yeah.

Sam (04:32):


Hannah Wood (04:33):


New Speaker (04:33):

Yeah. Like two summers ago when I reopened, I had a camp with more girls than boys and that, that was history for me.

Sam (04:42):

Just a tear slowly rolls down my cheek with that. That’s awesome.

Dave (04:46):

Okay. I gotta bring it back here, Sam, to our questions.

Sam (04:48):


Dave (04:49):

Did you always wanna be a business owner or did you just like accidentally end up in this like – ?

Hannah Wood (04:55):

Hmm. You know, it’s interesting because, um, when I was my first job, other than babysitting a kid on my street made these little buttons and I had ordered one that said, I love dolphins and he had cut out, um, you know, a dolphin picture and then he made the button. So I asked him if I could be a salesperson for him, sell the buttons, get what people wanted for designs, deliver them – if he would pay me.

Sam (05:22):


Hannah Wood (05:23):

So for 10 cents -they were a dollar a button. I would get 10 cents of that, um, money. And I went around and sold buttons to everybody.

Dave (05:33):

I would buy dirt from you. Right, Sam?

Hannah Wood (05:35):

I mean, yeah right.

Sam (05:36):

For real, I kind of want a button now.

Hannah Wood (05:38):

I still have my buttons.

Sam (05:39):

Do you?

Hannah Wood (05:40):

Yes, I do. It’s so silly, but um, it wasn’t a hard sale and it was fun cuz I’m not really, I don’t really enjoy selling anything except for helmets, which I could sell all day and night and sneakers cuz to get the right pair is like heaven. Um, but I don’t ever like to, you know, I would never be a good insurance salesperson.

Sam (06:00):

Yeah. But to, you know, kind of see this, this successful business model he had and kinda like insert yourself in there. That’s, that’s –

Hannah Wood (06:07):

This is back when a dime could even make a phone call from the local candy store.

Sam (06:12):

Each button you’re like, that’s a phone call, another phone call.

Hannah Wood (06:14):

Yes. And I’d tuck it right in my kangaroo pocket of my sneaker in away I would go!

Sam (06:19):

Amazing. I have such a good image in my head right now.

Hannah Wood (06:22):

Awesome. They were blue.

Dave (06:24):

Don’t you wanna go get the Colchester yearbook from uh –

Sam (06:27):

Yeah I do, a hundred percent.

Dave (06:29):

To look at her page? Right.

Sam (06:30):

So Hannah tell us about talent. It, it sounds – I am embarrassed to admit I’ve never been and I’m not a skateboarder, but I have heard from people from all walks of life about what a magical place this is. And I’m like, like, you know, I’m not into skateboarding. So I’m like exactly, it’s a skate park. Like what’s so magical about it? I know it must be like kind of hard to put into words because I know it’s your, you know, pride and joy, but what makes it so special?

Hannah Wood (06:53):

Um, that is such a great question. And I do think, um, it would be the skateboard community. It is starting much younger. When the business plan was written, which started with like three pages we can get to that later. Um, it was really written for the 18 and older crew – 16 and older crew. Um, and then when you are an entrepreneur or a small business owner, a lot of them go outta business cuz they have to stick to what they originally, you know, birthed in their brain. And um, we didn’t do that. We followed where the, where the money sent us and um, created a path for ourselves. And that meant going down to age five as a startup for, um, skateboarding.

Sam (07:39):

That’s crazy.

Hannah Wood (07:40):

And so we did, and it was unbelievable and actually really, really fun. If we could keep the parents out of the park, which we always tried to do the five year olds would have a blast. Boys and girls. Mostly boys when we first opened.

Sam (07:53):


Hannah Wood (07:54):

Um, so you have to be able to, um, twist a little bit and make things happen so that you can, um, stay afloat.

Sam (08:03):

Absolutely. Yeah.

Hannah Wood (08:05):

And it’s magical because we did that.

Sam (08:08):


Hannah Wood (08:08):

And as you know, when we first opened, people were not that kind, they were very skeptical about being there. I had managed a skateboard/snowboard shop in Burlington. I was the general manager there for three years, but I worked there through high school as well. It was called The B Side.

Dave (08:26):

I still, I still reference The B Side to my kids. You know, it’s in my brain as that’s the place. And they’re like, dad, it’s no, it’s the dark side. I’m like, no, it’s The B Side. Like come on.

Hannah Wood (08:35):

The B side.

Dave (08:36):

I’m like –

Hannah Wood (08:36):

Great name.

Dave (08:37):

Yeah, right. It was great.

Hannah Wood (08:38):

And we started on, um, over by where The Op was on – was that south Winooski? And then we moved to 60 main street and then we were at, um, Jerry street on 45. Um, and I loved it. It was great there, but it was missing something. There was a little back room there that we use for storage, you know, not much bigger than the room we’re sitting in right now. And um, I cleaned it out and had a halfpipe put in and then you suddenly saw all these kids that did great during the summer, but started to cave when the, when the cold months came and they couldn’t afford snow awarding or couldn’t get rides to the mountain. They could skate year round and it definitely changed.

Sam (09:20):


New Speaker (09:20):

Everything about them.

Sam (09:21):

So is that, that back room, is that sort of the seed of the idea for talent?

Hannah Wood (09:27):

Um, yeah, it, I think – well right before that, everyone kept saying, ah, we need an indoor skate park. Mm. We need an indoor skate park. Mm. I was like, I can do this. Um, so I started with that just to see. I didn’t own the B side. I was just, um, general manager there. And then, um, Burton was getting a half pipe build outside and um, at their facility there on industrial. And I had this Tuesday night dinner club where every Tuesday night, my posse of friends – I would pick a restaurant in Burlington. We would all go out to dinner and then we would go dancing, um, for dance hall night at RJs. And one Tuesday night we happened to be at Halversons on the back deck and there was this new person. And so I went and sat next to him, of course. Right. Hey, um, how you doing? And he had the most electric blue eyes and I was like, oh, what’s your name? And he said, David. And I said, oh, what do you do? And he said, well, I’m here. Um, Burton hired me to build the halfpipe. And I was like,

Sam (10:30):

Like, I think I love you.

Hannah Wood (10:31):

Yeah, let’s go. Um, and he was managing Eastern Border in Worcester, Vermont and I was at The B Side in Burlington, Vermont. So we just had so much to talk about. Um, and at the time he had just opened Custom Skatepark. So he was building parks around for different municipalities. Did I say it right?

Sam (10:52):

You nailed it.

Hannah Wood (10:53):

Yes. Um, and so once I realized that I could do it, I needed a skate park. So I was like, “hey!”

Dave (11:01):

That’s cool. And how long did it take you to sort of pull the business plan together and did anybody help you with that? Did you just make it up?

Hannah Wood (11:09):

It was ridiculous actually because, um, we were young and when I get – I’m going and you’re not gonna stop me until I figured it out, but I, I didn’t realize how much work went into the business plan. Even though I had to do one for the University of Vermont. We wrote our business plan, I thought we were don, we turned it in and the bank pretty much called us laughing and said, “hey, we need a traffic study.” We need, you know, we needed to do –

Sam (11:36):


Hannah Wood (11:37):

– everything. So our business plan went from 10 pages to probably, I don’t know, 200 pages.

Sam (11:44):

Oh God.

Hannah Wood (11:44):

I had to call every skate park pretty much in the state indoors, get rates, get insurance, get everything. Um, and we had to find a spot to have it.

Dave (11:54):

Yeah. How long take you to find that spot?

Hannah Wood (11:56):

Um, we drove around for probably a full year looking at every warehouse, every, every spot that we could think of all the way to Stow and back. Um, I really, after having managed The B Side in Burlington for so long, I really wanted to be out of the city because I knew I was gonna be having younger kids and I didn’t want them to wander off somewhere.

Dave (12:21):

Right. Right.

Hannah Wood (12:22):

When we found that spot on Williston road, we drove by and I was like, this is it, “Hannah, you can’t let your emotions get it”, but this is it. I could just – it felt so good. I was like, yes. Um, so we called the landlord and asked for, to see inside. It had been Breakers Billiards, it was a pool hall. It had sat empty for four to five years, I think. Um, and I walked in and it was absolutely amazing. And the landlord at me and said, “you’re gonna pay your rent with what? Skateboarding? It’s not gonna happen.” And I was like, it is gonna happen. We can do it. And at the time Higher Ground was in Winooski and they were moving and they had the spot we were looking at and the spot where they ended up, those were their top two choices for locations. And I was like, okay, we’re just gonna wait it out and see what happens. And in the meantime, we had to wait for our, um, small business loan to be approved, cuz it was a couple hundred thousand dollars.

Dave (13:29):

Yeah. Big commitment.

Hannah Wood (13:30):

Signed off my life. I was – I knew I was gonna end up living with my parents if we failed. Um, and they were in Texas at the time. No thank you.

Sam (13:38):

Oh my God.

Hannah Wood (13:38):

Um, so I wasn’t gonna fail, but um –

Sam (13:40):

That’s good incentive. Right?

Hannah Wood (13:42):

Totally good incentive. Uh, so we waited and once we got approved and I was able to show the landlord, the money and higher ground chose that other location, he was ready to talk, it had sat empty for five years. So yeah, he was ready to flip it.

Sam (13:57):

It was like a lot of hard work, but also a little bit of serendipity in there.

Hannah Wood (14:00):

A hundred percent. Yeah. It was the best location in the world. I, that was paradise for me. It was um, I did my internship at, for college at Disney world.

Dave (14:13):

I saw the Duck university, the Duckathon what, what do you call it? Duck Degree?

Hannah Wood (14:17):

Yes, my doctorate.

Dave (14:18):

Doctorate. That’s –

Hannah Wood (14:19):

Please get it right. It was my doctorate.

Dave (14:21):

I didn’t mean to diminish your degree.

Hannah Wood (14:23):

Seriously. I worked, I worked so hard for that degree.

Sam (14:26):

Wait, I’m gonna wait, what is this? Please, do tell.

Hannah Wood (14:29):

I did my internship for the University of Vermont at Disney World in Florida. And I got my doctorate.

Sam (14:35):

Oh my God. This sounds like a pretty competitive thing here.

Hannah Wood (14:39):

It was the greatest summer of my entire life, summer of 93 working for Disney. And I went back and worked every spring break and I –

Dave (14:48):

That’s so cool.

Hannah Wood (14:48):

I would’ve stayed there, but I couldn’t do the heat.

Sam (14:49):

Live in Florida?

Dave (14:51):

What’s your favorite character?

Hannah Wood (14:53):


Dave (14:54):


Hannah Wood (14:55):


Dave (14:58):

I like Pluto for some reason. I think I like the name.

Sam (15:01):

Oh, nice.

Dave (15:01):

Do you got one?

Sam (15:02):

I’m a, I’m a goofy fan too.

Hannah Wood (15:04):

Yeah. I love goofy.

Sam (15:05):

Yeah. It’s my vibe. I think.

Hannah Wood (15:08):

Same here.

Dave (15:08):

All right. I, I didn’t think we’d be go to the doctorate (indudible).

Sam (15:11):

Well, I mean, it’s –

Dave (15:13):


Sam (15:13):

I think this is the first doctorate we’ve had on the podcast.

Hannah Wood (15:16):

Thank you so much.

Dave (15:17):

Well, I’m sure things you learned there. I mean, no one does it better than Disney for customer service and accountability and you know, just, wow.

Hannah Wood (15:25):

I loved everything about it. They are all about the guests.

Sam (15:28):

That’s what I was gonna say. The dedication to your customer, which is –

Hannah Wood (15:31):


Sam (15:31):

– guest. Sorry.

New Speaker (15:33):

And I don’t say (inaudible).

Dave (15:34):

Sam did not get into the duck program.

Hannah Wood (15:36):

I know, god.

Sam (15:36):

Obviously. I applied seven times now.

Hannah Wood (15:38):

I did have a, I did have one class –

Dave (15:40):

Whale Park. You went to Whale Park in New Hampshire. Right.

Hannah Wood (15:44):

I had one class with goofy where he came in and they were teaching us how to do signatures so that, you know, there’s only one goofy, but his signature has to look the same.

Dave (15:57):

Oh. So they’d standardize it in case you were suited up as goofy.

Hannah Wood (16:01):


Dave (16:01):

Got it.

Hannah Wood (16:02):

But I, I, you have to be exact same height, same within, you know, a few pounds.

Sam (16:07):


Hannah Wood (16:08):

Yeah. It’s very, it’s unbelievable that they sent me a book on hairstyles and um, documented sideburns for, that were approved to be at Disney. Um,

Dave (16:21):

How did you like operating those kind of rules?

Hannah Wood (16:24):

I loved it.

Dave (16:25):

You loved it. Yeah,

Hannah Wood (16:25):

Because it was all for the guests. It was part of that magic. I’m telling you. It was the greatest. It was the greatest. There were so many kids, you lived with all the college kids.

Dave (16:36):

Yeah. It must have been fun to come out of a small town of Vermont and just sort of see the world.

Hannah Wood (16:40):

And I’m still in touch with everyone summer 93.

Dave (16:42):

Of course you are.

Hannah Wood (16:43):

We’re planning our reunion.

Dave (16:43):

Did you dount that for a second?

Sam (16:44):

No way!

Hannah Wood (16:44):

We’re planning our reunion get together. It’s awesome. But you live with all the people from Epcot that were from their country. So, and it actually, it is written up in one of those magazines about, you know, one of those –

Dave (16:56):

Do they take people in their fifties as interns? Cause I’m thinking Sam, after a couple years of COVID, it might be kind of fun to have an experience like this.

Hannah Wood (17:05):

It’s amazing.

Sam (17:06):

Totally. Oh my God. That’s –

New Speaker (17:08):


Sam (17:09):

– crazy. I’m sure that helps. Like, you know, in terms of being ready to start your own business.

Hannah Wood (17:15):

It definitely helped. Um, with that side of it, I also worked for Vermont Teddy bear. Um, I was in charge of the tours there and hiring and training the staff. That background with Disney was,

Sam (17:27):

Oh my god.

Hannah Wood (17:27):


Sam (17:27):


Hannah Wood (17:28):

And it was, it represented what, the way that I, I would run it if it were my own. I loved, I loved it.

Dave (17:36):

The inspiration you had to open up Talent. Okay. When you started to, to today, is it, is it the same inspiration or has the, the, the benefits changed to the people that come there? You know, for example, it might have been a, a place to go in a wintertime, right. Just to keep, keep people engaged and happier. Right. Is that still the same today as the primary benefit you see for, for the skaters that come or is that changed over time?

Hannah Wood (18:07):

You know, when talk about entrepreneurship and small business, no matter how much you think, you know, there’s always gonna be bumps or, um, things that come up that you’re not prepared for. So things within the business plan, definitely. We wanted an indoor skateboard park. We wanted to make some money doing something that we loved and provide a service for the community here. Um, but then you get the kids that come from different centers, Howard center, spectrum, youth services, the boys and girls club, kids who come from the chill foundation. We worked, I started the skateboarding side of chill programming.

Dave (18:46):

Oh my god. I loved chill.

Hannah Wood (18:48):

Amazing. It’s still, still going. We’re still hosting them. It’s incredible. And when that came up, it was, it was just so awesome to get these kids in here that never would’ve experienced skateboarding. Um, now I think my favorite part of talent, even from day one where the camps and the clinics, because that brings in that kid, that’s just hungry for something. And skateboarding is the hardest sport on the planet. I don’t think there’s anything harder than skateboarding. It’s – it is so hard. And that’s how I start. Everyone of my camps are clinics. Skateboarding is hard. Why am I telling you guys that? Because I don’t want you to quit before you even get started.

Sam (19:33):

It’s really frustrating.

Hannah Wood (19:34):

It’s wicked frustrating and you have to be ready to fall. And get back up. Um, so now my goal is to get kids that, uh, we started a program called Got Wood? Where all my old skaters are bringing in all their old skateboard decks, trucks, wheels, bearings, hardware, bushings, we’ve started a pile of that. And then we find kids that come, who don’t have anything.

Dave (20:01):

Great. So they can put a board together.

Hannah Wood (20:03):

Put the board together.

Dave (20:04):

That’s really neat.

Sam (20:05):

That is such a great idea.

Hannah Wood (20:06):

Yeah. We donated a bunch to boys and girls club and the spectrum youth services. And you know, we had a kid who was down at the Burlington park watching every day and he needed his own board. So he got a board.

Sam (20:18):

So was one of your people just like “Hannah this kid needs a board” and you’re just like, “hell yeah, give him one.” ?

Hannah Wood (20:22):

Yeah. We just had the, um, south Burlington school. They’ve been bringing a crew of skaters, the skate club, the talent for 10 years now. And there was a girl in that group and she had the borrow aboard cuz she didn’t have one. And after her first day she came out like, oh my God, I love this.

Dave (20:40):

That’s so awesome.

Hannah Wood (20:41):

You know, we built her aboard. So she would have her own board

Dave (20:44):

And that’s solvable, getting a board.

Hannah Wood (20:45):


Dave (20:46):

It’s, you know, sitting in the garage somewhere, maybe underused or, um, nice to know you can sort of pay it forward that way. Right.

Hannah Wood (20:54):

It is awesome and what’s, what doesn’t have enough pop for you has enough pop for a little buddy over here who’s on their first board. So it’s awesome.

Dave (21:03):

I, I have put on a few pounds since my teenage years. So there’s not much pop.

Hannah Wood (21:08):

You and me both.

New Speaker (21:09):

You don’t need, you don’t need a ton of pop there these days. Um, Hannah, one of the things you’re also very well known for is your advocacy for folks with traumatic brain injuries. Yep. Can you tell us a little bit about your story and how that sort of impacted your life and talent? Yeah.

Hannah Wood (21:25):

Um, we had just signed our lease at our new location and they handed us the keys,

Sam (21:34):

Your paradise

Hannah Wood (21:35):

My paradise. And I was, um, I am also a known multitasker. I have a really hard time sitting still. Like, this is really hard for me.

Sam (21:45):

You’re doing great.

Hannah Wood (21:46):

Thank you.

Dave (21:47):

We should have fidget spinners whatever those things are. I’m sorry.

Hannah Wood (21:51):

It’s true. Um, so as soon as I got those keys, I, um, hey, we’re paying for it. Let’s go. But he got us good because we were new and we were young and we didn’t know how to negotiate. So we signed on and the first thing we had to do was clean out everything that had been left behind.

New Speaker (22:10):

Oh God, from a bowling league or something?

Hannah Wood (22:14):

It was a pool hall.

Sam (22:15):

Pool hall, right.

Hannah Wood (22:16):

It was billards. Oh, sorry. Yeah. So when you walked in the guy he’s, this is something I definitely learned at Disney, but when you walked in, it was a stage and there was pool tables on both sides. And then he had shark tanks and then he had out the floor in one part and put in a wooden dance floor. There was a full kitchen and the back corner was a private room with one pool table, a hot tub, and a bar. It was so nasty.

Sam (22:41):

Shut up.

Hannah Wood (22:42):

I’m serious.

Sam (22:43):

Don’t turn a black light on, in that place.

Hannah Wood (22:45):

Right. Well God, now we cleaned it. I don’t know. We, uh, it was oh, gross. And there was this awful wallpaper there. Um, you know, it was dark green and then it had the border at the top that was like this red, just dark red with black swirls. One bathroom was ducks. The other bathroom was, um, golfers. And you could smell the smoke, you know, from people hiding in the bathroom, smoking cigarettes. Anyways, um, I was gonna take the wallpaper down cause I was not going to open my beautiful dream with that ugly wallpaper. So, um, I stood on top of a ladder the first day with an iron in one hand, my iron that I used to wax my snowboard and my scraper in the other hand. And I, I was scraping the, um, trim off and I was killing it. I mean, I was, I was cruising. I was gonna get so much done. David, um, had gone to, where did he go? He went to Massachusetts to build a cement skate park that he had signed up for prior to us getting our lease. So he was gone and I was gonna get so much done. So he would be so impressed when I got like,

Sam (23:54):

Wait til he walks in here.

Hannah Wood (23:56):

Right. Boom. And so the second day, same thing I climbed up on that ladder two feet above where it says do not stand here. But I could reach it on that ladder. So it was really the only way to get it down. And I don’t remember much other than that until I woke up in the hospital. But I guess I fell to my head. Blood came gushing out my left ear. Thank God. There was somebody else there with me. And he came running over. He had no idea what our address was. He was from Battleboro. He was there helping, he ran up to the tanning salon, uh, body LeBrons in the front and grabbed Randy, the owner there. And he came back and called 9 1 1. They had me in about nine minutes. Wow. So it was fast. Um, but I was medically induced into a coma for what was supposed to be two days, turned into three days, turned into five days, turned into, I think I was in the coma for a little over a week.

Sam (24:53):

Cause of the swelling?

Hannah Wood (24:54):

Because my brain was swelling so hard. Um, and then they ended up putting a shunt in the back of my skull and draining it. And that really helped. Um, yeah. And my parents had to fly in from Texas and my sisters were here and I was gone. Just gone. Yeah. It was awful. So my head injury, I fractured my skull. Um, did some damage there, shattered my, um, clavicle on the left side, which I’ll tell you in a minute. But that was the only thing I knew about really. Um, and I was in the coma at UVM medical center and then they moved me to, um, Fanny Allen, where I had to,

Sam (25:40):


Hannah Wood (25:41):

They were teaching me all this stuff that I already knew. And I was so mad. Because I was supposed to be at the skate park.

Dave (25:49):

You just opened, signed my life over to get a loan.

Hannah Wood (25:52):

And I had no voice because I had pulled all my tubes. Um, I was intubated and yanked the tubes. So I talked like this and I was like – that my mom would come every day and I would say, you can stay here. I’m leaving. And every night I would pack up all my stuff and it would be right at the door waiting to go home. I called every taxi company. I knew every number I’m sure from the downtown college days, come get me. I would say, come get me. Where are you? I don’t f’in know, but pick me up. And so they took my phone away. That was it. And I remember, um, I was so mad that I was gonna escape. So I snuck down the hall and no one saw me. And I can remember this clear as if it was yesterday. And I got onto the elevator and I pushed the button and I was going down and I was gonna be free. And then the elevator shut off and it took me back up. And then they put a bracelet around my ankle. So when I left the hallway, it would make an alarm and they had me sleep in a locked bed at night. And I would and kick and kick and kick and kick.

Dave (27:00):

You’re a runner!

Hannah Wood (27:01):

Kick, Kick, “Hannah, you gonna break your foot.” I don’t care. Get me outta here. And then I, I, in my head, this part, I don’t know if it’s true or not, but they were hiding my medicine and everything I ate cuz I refused to take it. So I stopped eating. I would only drink ensures, chocolate ensures they had ’em in the fridge. I was allowed to walk through the fridge, get my chocolate ensure, and go back to my room. It was awful. It was, and I don’t even know who that person was, but that’s brain injury. Oh, you are just, and you’re on so many medications. But I thought I was there because of my stupid collarbone. And then you’re doing anything. Take care of my collar bone. They’re like,

Dave (27:41):

How long until you were able to walk back into talent?

Hannah Wood (27:45):

Um, it was about, probably about a month and a couple weeks. Wow. And I went right back to work.

Sam (27:52):

I was gonna say of, I had a feeling you did. I did.

Dave (27:54):

Of course. Yeah.

Hannah Wood (27:55):

Every day. I mean we were new business owners and we, I didn’t wanna move to Texas. So,

Dave (28:01):

So talk about helmets, what your perspective and view is on helmets and what you do about it. And I think share part of that story.

Hannah Wood (28:10):

Yeah. Um, you know, I always wore my helmet at The B Sides, skatin’ that little halfpipe in there. Um, we were gonna have to have helmets required anyways for insurance. I mean, insurance was so expensive, but if you don’t have people in pads or helmets, it even goes higher. And hey, I wasn’t gonna be scooping somebody’s skull off the ground. Um, so I had no problem enforcing it. Um, what I can see now, I mean, it took me about five years before I even knew I had a brain injury. Even though, um, once I got outta the hospital, the first thing I did was go online and hit TBI. And then I was like, I’m gonna die. My life is over. I’m never gonna be the same. People aren’t gonna like me anymore. I mean the, all the news out there was horrible. So that was devastating. But I had no problem, um, telling people to wear helmets when we got to the park. What would happen though, is I would get mad. I would get mad at you when you fought me about your seven year old, not wearing a helmet at home. Why does he have to wear one here? “She skateboards down the hill at home all the time, why does she have to wear a helmet here?” And I, I would, it would be PTSD instantly.

Dave (29:22):


Hannah Wood (29:23):


Sam (29:23):


New Speaker (29:24):

Trigger, response.

Hannah Wood (29:25):

It would trigger, it still, it actually, I’m starting to feel it right now. It still does trigger me. And when I get somebody who comes out,

Dave (29:29):

Take it on Sam, please. I’m terrified. I’m terrified.

Hannah Wood (29:33):

You should be.

Sam (29:35):

Good. No, but that’s powerful. And I think a lot of people need that level of seriousness and you know, because if it hasn’t happened to you or it doesn’t happen to you, it’s like, you think you’re safe. Right? And sometimes a little bit of perspective goes a long way and changing people’s lives.

Dave (29:53):

Yeah. And my, and you know, with our boys too, right. Was always trying to get ’em, but they’d sneak out and do skateboard in the garage around without, but the fact that when they got to talent, everybody was doing it, the cool kids, the dorky kids, the old, you know, old, old folks, you know, adults. Yeah. Right. You know, good, bad. And it just was, so it wasn’t an issue. It was no stigma to it. There was no, nobody making fun of your old helmet or, or this or this. And they wanted stickers on it.

Hannah Wood (30:21):

And they want stickers And that was an easy solve.

Sam (30:24):

Totally. You’re like, we can do stickers.

Hannah Wood (30:25):

We can do stickers.

Dave (30:26):

Oh my God. You have the best stickers at talent. We have a lot of ’em on our, our beer fridge in the garage.

Hannah Wood (30:33):

Not for kids, beer fridge.

Dave (30:34):

No mine.

Hannah Wood (30:37):

Mine. That’s right.

Sam (30:39):

Um, so how do you think, you know, obviously that has impacted every aspect of your life, but has that made you a better business person in some ways like being so, you know, I guess like having that passion for something like being safe when, when you wear your helmet and you know, having a second chance. Right. Like, does that love fuel it? Yeah.

Hannah Wood (31:03):

I think, um, I’ve heard people say before that I run the strictest skate park in the United States. Um, there may be some truth to that. I don’t know. I just, I, I don’t want anyone getting hurt when they come to skate at talent. Um, and that means all camps, all clinic, all beginners are in full pads, elbow, knee, wrist. When we first opened, it was no risk guards. We had so many broken wrists cuz that’s what you put your hand out. I mean it’s fixable and they’re young and it’s easy, but why even waste the time doing that? Throw on some risk guards. People have been pretty, pretty, um, open with it. Definitely. The parents have gotten a lot better since when I first started. Yeah. Um, the helmets will always be an issue. It will always be an issue for some reason.

Hannah Wood (31:55):

Um, I think a lot of it is because if you watch the, the skate videos, they’re not wearing helmets. And they don’t wanna film lines at, to talent with a helmet on because nobody wants to see that. I get it as a survivor and a thriver. I do understand exactly where they’re coming from. Cause I grew up watching those videos with 4 1 1 back in the day too. Um, but definitely this is perspective, right? I, I am so lucky that I have super low blood pressure because if I had high blood pressure and I was laying on the ground at talent and my heart was pounding out on my chest, I would’ve blood to death. I, I bleed very slowly when I donate blood. It’s super drip, drip, drip. Um, I’m lucky I was given the second chance. I’ll always be an advocate for helmets.

Dave (32:42):

That’s great. So talent out on Williston road closed in 2018.

Hannah Wood (32:49):

August 5th.

Dave (32:50):

Yeah. August 5th, right. Um, just collectively a brutal day. Brutal time for sure. Can you just bring us from sort of that moment up to where you’re at now and at, at Burton and with the nonprofit, I think that’s a really important arc to your, your journey.

Hannah Wood (33:10):

Thanks. I think so too. We closed August 5th. Um, pretty much because of Amazon. I mean it got to the point where we were a for business. We also had almost 13,000 square feet on Williston road headed towards the box stores. It was not inexpensive to be there. And we were paying the rent with skateboard, um, admission. We went outta business. Um, I went to bed actually August 5th in the deepest of depressions because my paradise had been taken out from underneath me. We could have stayed on, but our rent was gonna go up. Somebody else wanted our space. They gave us first dibs. We never paid rent late, not once in 17 years. Wow. Um, so he said, you guys get first dibs, but the rents going up $2 a square foot. And I was gonna go bankrupt. So we just threw the hat in. I got a call from some parents asking me to attend a meeting and I said, I have no money. I can’t reopen please. And they said, just come, just come. Okay. It’s so I went and we met at the Burlington, um, outdoors at the Burlington surf club. Somebody was a member there and I get there and there was like 10 families, just, the parents were there and they went around and they,

Sam (34:35):

Oh God, I’m getting a little emotional.

Hannah Wood (34:36):

Yeah. It was. They each told their story. And how, um, how talent had either changed their kids’ life, saved their kids’ life, um, boosted their self confidence. It was, it was everything that I felt. And then they said, um, you need to reopen and I just kind of sunk. And they said, and we’re gonna be your board of directors. You be the executive director. You’re gonna be a nonprofit. We’re gonna do this together. And I was like, I’ll give it a shot.

Dave (35:08):


Hannah Wood (35:09):

So one of the moms was a lawyer and she was like, my son did one week of skateboard camp with you. And it changed his life. One week. He had only been there one week. I’ll do everything, um, pro bono.

Dave (35:22):

That’s awesome. Awesome.

Hannah Wood (35:24):

We reopened as a nonprofit. Thanks to them.

Sam (35:27):

So how long from August 5th? When, how long was it till you reopened?

Hannah Wood (35:30):

That was August 5th, 2018. And we reopened on Martin Luther king Jr. Day, January of 2020 with everything pretty much done.

Sam (35:43):

And I that’s how you and I first met, is we did the Amazon event at Burton.

Hannah Wood (35:47):

You guys were there when I signed.

Sam (35:49):

Yes. Cause we were like, oh, well, cuz we were, um, we were like, okay, this is gonna be great. We’re gonna, we wanna charge for this, that people come do it. Right. To just like, make sure we got ticket sales. And then we’re like, well, what are we gonna do with the proceeds?

Dave (36:03):


Sam (36:04):

And then we were like, talent duh. Cause it was right before you reopened. And that, and I just remember you got up and said a few words and I was like, she,

Dave (36:13):

Mike dropped time.

Sam (36:14):

F-ing rocks. I was like, this is so cool. And I, and I was just like blown away by you. And, and I, I had, I didn’t know anything about old talent, but I was like, well, thank like, thank God this place is reopening after all the stories that I’ve heard and your passion for it. It’s just so contagious.

Dave (36:31):

We’d partnered up with Burton and to sort of help people figure how to do business on Amazon. And I didn’t really know that they had really crushed you.

Sam (36:40):

Well, it was friend or foe, remember? And you were like, oh, foe!

Dave (36:49):

That’s what I love about Burlington though. You know what I mean? Like for, for people like you and others who are starting a business, um, you’re, you’re undeniable, right? And that’s the quality we look for when we try to find teams to put money into or to make some, some real, uh, meaningful commitments of, of resources and help. And cuz you don’t know, like you said, the business plan is never gonna go the way you think, right. It’s, it’s fiction and you’ll hope you narrow the story a little bit and, and it can forward, but really, really exciting. And so you’re open today under COVID you were able to operate.

Hannah Wood (37:23):

It’s been crazy to, oh, I reopened for, uh, that camp and I was able, able to teach February clinic and then it was shut the doors for three months. And I sat there by myself, like looking at the walls, going what, in what? Driving skateboards to people’s houses cuz nobody wanted to come. Just redid the whole website so we could have an online store, like my worst nightmare ever – retail. Um, and then everything kind of switched a little bit where retail became another nightmare of success, cuz I’d be in really big trouble right now without the store. Um, but we did summer camp in 2020. We did summer camp in 2021, much smaller numbers. Um, 2020 summer camp was something. I mean it was like sci-fi we had station set up outside and you couldn’t walk past these cones cause we had to keep you this any feet apart and you couldn’t bring your backpack in and you had to put everything in a tupperware and then you had to sanitize your hands. Then you had to sign a certain waiver. Then you had to go in and you had to wash your hands. Then you had to sanitize again, put on your mask and go to your spot. It was absolutely absurd.

Sam (38:34):

And you’re like, I know you’re only here for five hours and three of them are spent, um, like, but at least half that time spent like sanitizing and,

Hannah Wood (38:45):

But you know what, we made it through summer camps. I did nine weeks of summer camps, 2020 with zero issue. Yeah. It was incredible and this year as well, 2021, but

Sam (38:56):


Dave (38:57):

Yeah. It, it is amazing. And it’s amazing that you’re, you’re in the Burton facility, correct? Which, yeah. Craig’s is great. Yeah. Like I was just gonna add that to that like, um, such a, a sandbox of awesome.

Hannah Wood (39:11):

It is I agree. A hundred percent.

Dave (39:14):

Really, really cool.

Sam (39:15):

So great.

Dave (39:16):

How’s talent funded today through, through sort of earned income or is it still a lot of donation by community members?

Hannah Wood (39:24):

Um, you know, my summer camps used to have 35 kids in ’em and now I have 15, so everything’s been cut a lot. Um, and like the Burton tours used to come through, we built it so there’s windows so everyone walking by can see the whole park and then that shut down. Um, so like I just said, we do rely a lot more on the retail side of things. Um, even as a nonprofit, but I am getting a ton of kids through the door, as many as I can. We did scholarship a bunch of kids through summer camp this summer and last summer and clinics, anytime, you know, the schools call and they’ve got somebody that needs, needs literally needs skateboarding. We’ve got ’em in there and set ’em up with full pads, helmet, great skateboarding equipment. We get still have a couple big donors. Who’ve stayed with us. Thankfully. You know, we’re getting towards the end of the year. So we’ll start knocking on doors, asking for help. Um, rent is, you know, we’re still paying rent, but it’s not rent on Williston road. We’re in a back, um, end of a warehouse.

Dave (40:31):

On a button of train tracks.

Hannah Wood (40:33):

Right, exactly. Right. Not on the forefront on Williston road. So that was huge savings from old talent.

Hannah Wood (40:42):

And how can our community support talent what’s the best way to, to help or get involved?

Hannah Wood (40:47):

Yeah. Um, definitely sponsoring a skater for summer camp or clinics. Um, when I, when we changed to the nonprofit, my whole entire focus, my whole being was about teaching and lessons and um, you know, I wanted to do more with Vermont adaptive, all these things. You have to be able to really touch each other, especially when you have somebody, um, that is compromised in some, um, physical way and we’ve not been touching. Um, we’ve been wearing gloves on us and the kids 2020, 2021 just on the, um, skcoach – skateboard coach, skcoach. Um, so we’re slowly getting there, but getting the campers in, getting more people in, um, would be the best thing.

Sam (41:36):

Awesome. And they can go to the talent website to do that?

Hannah Wood (41:39):

Mhm, mhm, we still have our GoFundMe page up and running. And then I think there’s another site where you can donate or you can mail in a check.

Sam (41:47):

All right.

Hannah Wood (41:47):

Anything, call we’ll take a credit card.

Dave (41:49):

I’m gonna go buy some shoes.

Sam (41:51):

Yeah, please do.

Hannah Wood (41:53):

And some goo just to make sure. I saw, he was shuffling, down the hall.

Dave (41:57):

Did you walk? You saw how I walked, wasn’t I love-

Hannah Wood (41:59):

I did.

Dave (42:00):

I’m a hill Jagger.

Hannah Wood (42:01):

I saw that.

Dave (42:01):

Yeah. Right.

Hannah Wood (42:02):


Sam (42:04):

Called out Dave.

Dave (42:06):

Oh fuck.

Dave (42:06):

When the professionals come in and pick you out. I don’t like that. Uh, do you know what direction I ride?

Hannah Wood (42:15):

Um, you probably ride goofy.

Dave (42:17):


Hannah Wood (42:18):

I know, you are.

Sam (42:19):

Damn she’s good. Damn she’s good.

Dave (42:21):

I don’t like this, this like, like spidey sense or goofy sense that she has.

Hannah Wood (42:29):

It’s a little scary. That’s my new sense I got from my accident. I’ve picked up new talents and stuff,

Dave (42:35):

Clair buoyancy and stuff or,

Hannah Wood (42:36):

I can just, uh, read people. I can feel whether you’re a warm person or a cold person. Right. When I meet you, which is kind of okay. But,

Dave (42:44):

Little R read like you you’re sort of like a mood ring. Then,

Hannah Wood (42:47):

I am a mood. That is, oh, you know what? That is perfect way to describe me. I am a mood ring, but it’s on what I am being – what I’m receiving.

Hannah Wood (42:58):

I hope I’m sending,

Hannah Wood (42:59):

You are warm. You are warm, 100 percent.

Dave (43:02):

No. So that’s such an agro pose, Sam.

Dave (43:06):

That’s why, that’s why we don’t do video.

Sam (43:07):

I’m over caffeinated. So I’m like, this is like helping me sit still right now.

Hannah Wood (43:13):

Good girl.

Dave (43:14):

Oh, and that’s why you looked at me like you’re really serious about giving me a coconut water.

Hannah Wood (43:17):

Yeah, I know.

Dave (43:19):

I could have blown it before we started. I blown it, anyway.

Sam (43:22):

Thanks Dave.

Dave (43:23):

Um, we have to bring this to an end. Yep. Okay.

Sam (43:26):


Dave (43:26):

Unfortunately, but we ask everybody one final question. Okay?

Hannah Wood (43:29):

What is it? I’m so excited.

Sam (43:31):

You should be,

Dave (43:32):

This is magic wand time. We usually ask people to pretend they have superpowers, but clearly she does.

Hannah Wood (43:38):

I do

Dave (43:38):


Hannah Wood (43:39):

I already have superpowers.

Dave (43:40):

So as someone with superpowers, you now have the magic wand.

Hannah Wood (43:43):


Dave (43:45):

A Disney wand. If you could change one thing in Vermont, what would you change?

Hannah Wood (43:50):

Oh, in Vermont. In the state. Nothing about my small business. If I could change one thing in the state of Vermont, what would I change? That was a fabulous question.

Dave (44:04):

I can’t believe we slowed her down.

Hannah Wood (44:05):

You did. You got me. Well, because there’s so many different things. I’m trying to think. I’m trying to put them in order.

Dave (44:10):

There’s no wrong answer.

Hannah Wood (44:11):

No, It’s not that I think it’s wrong. I’m trying to pick priority.

Dave (44:13):

Someone wanted a traffic light on Spear st. Traffic light, we’ve got diversity. We’ve had healthcare. We’ve,

Sam (44:21):


Dave (44:22):


Hannah Wood (44:23):

Obviously, if I could do anything with COVID, that would be number one. But I, I will say in Vermont alone, we’ve done a pretty decent job with that. If I could have every parent that is out riding a bike with their kids and their kids are helmet on and buckled and the parents are not. If those parents could stop and realize that the kids not going to have the parent that they need, if the parent falls off the bike and hits their head with no helmet on, that gives me PTSD. So if every parent or every older person who’s biking with younger people or skateboarding with younger people could put on their helmet and buckle it, that would make me very happy.

Hannah Wood (45:10):

Well, it’s a magic wands. You can just put a helmet on everyone in Vermont.

Dave (45:13):


New Speaker (45:14):

Some people need ’em walking.

Dave (45:16):

I’m like totally feeling guilty about an instance recently.

Sam (45:20):

Well, Dave.

Dave (45:22):

Hannah, it’s been so awesome to have you here to see our space and to share your story cuz um, entrepreneurs run nonprofits too. Right? And entrepreneurs start from a different ambition and goal and place and, and it’s really, uh, really special for us to hear you share today. So, thank you.

Sam (45:41):

Yeah, the resilience is incredible.

Hannah Wood (45:43):

Thank you.

Sam (45:44):

You’re an inspiration.

Hannah Wood (45:45):

Thank you.

Dave (45:45):

I can’t wait to buy sneakers

Sam (45:47):

And your vibe is so great. You’ve the best vibe.

Hannah Wood (45:49):

Thank you. Wow, you guys, you make, me feel like a million dollars.

Sam (45:55):

And she hasn’t had, she hasn’t had the coconut water yet.

Dave (45:57):

No. So this has been start here. Our podcast sharing the stories of active, aspiring and accidental entrepreneurs. The series is supported by the Vermont technology council and consolidate communications. Let’s strap on our helmets and get up for escape.