New skate shop mixes skateboarding, art

EG Fratantaro, owner of Handplant on South Coast Highway, calls his venture a "missing void" in Laguna, one that's half skate shop, half art gallery.

May 17, 2012|By Joanna Clay
(Don Leach )

With its wood floors, minimalist displays and Andy Warhol-painted skateboards hanging on the back wall, Handplant is far from your average O.C. skate shop.

Owner EG Fratantaro, marketing manager for industry biggie Sector 9, opened the shop last month at 1025 S. Coast Hwy.

The small shop dedicates one wall to a skate artist, with 100% of the proceeds going to the featured artist. Right now, it's showcasing the photography of Jorge Salas, who lives in Dana Point, and is hosting a celebration for him May 27.

Kris Markovich, a pro skater and painter, will be featured beginning June 2.

Fratantaro, 42, calls it half skate shop, half art gallery — a fitting mix for the art colony that makes national news for its skateboarding community.

A skateboarder since the age of 8, Fratantaro said he thinks the full-service skate shop is filling a "missing void" in Laguna Beach.

Inspired by walking the streets of New York City, Fratantaro said he didn't want Handplant to be like shops of his youth, where you could barely walk without hitting a display.


"I wanted to keep it clean and unique," he said.

He only stocks Handplant with products he knows and loves, such as Sector 9, Alien Workshop, JSLV, Habitat, Creature, Independent, Ricta and RAD.

He wants the shop to be a place for families to gather. Besides his monthly art events, where the store will celebrate the latest artist, he wants to hold contests and educational events.

On June 23 he plans to hold a barbecue to educate families on skateboarding safety. Because downhill skateboarding is an issue close to Laguna's heart, and he sells boards kids use to bomb the city's hills, Fratantaro wants to teach parents and kids how to properly equip themselves if they decide to do it.

He'll also have a friend who is an EMT show the kids what to do in a medical emergency, such as if a friend isn't breathing or has a physical injury.

Kids hang out at Handplant on the weekends. Fratantaro tries to give them advice like "keep in your lane and don't flip off old people." He reminds them to keep those helmets strapped.

"It's better to be proactive about it than they not know," he said. "I want to teach [the kids] the good ways."

In mid-July the shop is hosting a video contest where kids will film, edit and produce their own 3- to 5-minute videos. The videos will be judged by professional downhill skateboarders.

"If first six weeks are indication, then it's going to be great," Fratantaro said about the new shop.

For more information, call (949) 715-4070 or visit its Facebook page.

Twitter: @joannaclay

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