Owner Eric Lantto showed us how he Keeps it Classic in Reno. Classic Skate Shop (aka The Biggest Little Skate Shop stocked with a curated collection of boards and gear) is best known as the only skater owned/operated/frequented shop in Nevada. In this Spotlight feature, Eric treats us to a closer look at what makes Classic one of a kind.
I had no interest in selling flip flops, overpriced sunglasses, wakeboards, or whatever the latest trending brand was.
Let’s start with the backstory of Classic Skate Shop. How did it all come together?
Classic started with the mindset of being a true skate shop, not a board shop. I thought so many places that sell skateboards morphed into a lifestyle shop. I had no interest in selling flip flops, overpriced sunglasses, wakeboards, or whatever the latest trending brand was. We went barebones and made our mark slowly in the local scene.
Tell us a little bit about your personal background as a skater.
I started skating in 1984. It was pure love. I had found my calling, and in 37 years I never quit. I also knew after memorizing every image in magazines that I had an interest in the skateboard industry. I thought that would have come to fruition in San Francisco but, after a trip to San Diego I met Ozzy Alvarez who was pro for Zorlac. We became friends immediately, and shortly after I had my first “skateboard job” at a company called Fishlips. It was kind of the perfect nightmare. No money is tough. Being able to create board shapes and graphics was a dream come true. Time flies, and I have worked for many different companies since and still do including my own brand Biggest Little Skateboard Co out of Reno. I still get to tour the world because of skateboarding and I never take that for granted.
To support our local scene first and foremost. That is everything.
I see that Classic is a skater-owned shop focusing on boards and skate products more than apparel. What would you say is your company’s mission?
To support our local scene first and foremost. That is everything. Beyond sponsoring locals, putting on events, we want people to feel welcome to the shop. Beginners are always nervous and don’t want to ask the wrong questions. I remember walking into my first shop and the guy behind the counter “cool guying” me a bit. That doesn’t happen at Classic. I love skateboarding, so why would I want to give a potential skater a bad first experience? Shops still do that and I’ll never understand that.
What are some of the most exciting items you carry in the shop?
There is a local brand named Techne that is cool. They are all over the world and I love to see them grow. We’ve been with them since the beginning and I love to see them on the racks. Obviously Dunks do well. New Balance is another great brand to work with. Anything DLX does is fun. They are something truly special in our industry. I’m also a big fan of FA/Hockey. They are doing their own thing and that’s always refreshing in a world overrun with logo boards.
Do you have any local events coming up? If not, what are some of your favorite events you normally participate in?
COVID shut down events for the most part. We squeezed in some here and there. It’s pretty exhausting dealing with it. Every year we do a Death Race which is best described as organized chaos. It’s a two person race through the park with minimal rules. We’ve been doing it for 11 years. This year I worked with the City of Reno to create a skate plaza in one of our spots that is skated regularly. It was an honor to be a part of the ribbon cutting with our Mayor in the city I love so much.
Have you had any special visitors or fun stories you’d like to share with us?
Signings and demos are always special. Kids meeting their first pro is what it’s all about. The first pros I ever met were John Lucero and Jeff Grosso. I still remember it like it was yesterday. Even cooler is when I have a friend visiting (no name dropping required) and a customer walks in surprised to see them. A random sighting in the shop is the best.
Leave us with your thoughts on how beginners can get started.
Make sure and get set up with the right gear first and foremost. Shops still pushing board size based on height and shoe size is ridiculous. It’s ALL about personal preference. Take the time to show beginners multiple sizes and give them options. Parents ask about skate lessons and I always suggest letting the beginner learn from their friends. Between Youtube and your first skate crew, it will all fall into place. I explain that you are going to fall a lot and that’s the reality of it. There’s nothing more rewarding than landing a trick after battling it forever. If you make it through the struggle, you’ll understand what it’s all about. The influx of women’s skateboarding is one of the most rewarding things to happen in decades. It’s been incredible to see that scene evolve. Skateboarding changed the direction of my life. It’s important to me to help new skaters in any way I can.