Carpinteria natives Naren Porter-Kasbati and Spencer Navarro founded Lighthouse Skate Shop in 2016 on Helena Avenue, surrounded by countless businesses near Stearns Wharf.
Among these other shops, the three-year-old Lighthouse Skate Shop is the only skateboard shop around. Zoom out a little bit on the map, and Mr. Porter-Kasbati and Mr. Navarro’s business remains the only local skateboard shop near State Street.
It was the desire to provide a local skateboard post that spurred Mr. Porter-Kasbati to act. Prior to co-founding Lighthouse, he had worked at a local skateboard shop on East Gutierrez Street. When that shop closed, Mr. Porter-Kasbati was scratching his head until he had an idea. He would step up to fill the gap, but it was a task for which he needed a partner.
“I called Spencer: ‘Hey, do you want to open up a shop?” said Mr. Porter-Kasbati. The 26-year-old had met Mr. Navarro, 27, before they were even teenagers.
After a decade of friendship, the two entered a business partnership and opened up Lighthouse Skate Shop in March 2016.
Not only is Lighthouse the only skateboard galore near State and Cabrillo streets, the business is merely a three-minute walk away from Skater’s Point, Santa Barbara’s skatepark in the Waterfront. That contributes to the culture and success of Lighthouse, in Mr. Porter-Kasbati’s opinion.
“We have kids coming in all day,” said Mr. Porter-Kasbati. “They hang out. We know all the kids that skate. Just formed a little community.”
The two men are the only full-time employees of the Lighthouse, but Mr. Porter-Kasbati told the News-Press that he and Mr. Navarro are thinking about expansion.
“Especially with the Goleta Skatepark opening up,” he said.
Before establishing a second location, though, certain steps and plans must be carefully laid out regarding payroll and rent, according to Mr. Porter-Kasbati. For now with the Helena Avenue venue, the two business owners seem to have their hands full. The store, said Mr. Porter-Kasbati, is looking to hire to grow the team.
The store’s walls were lined with the most colorful skateboards. Mr. Navarro said the most expensive is just under $300 while the cheapest is around $100. The shop also sells shoes, T-shirts and hoodies.
“We’re paying the bills and getting by,” said Mr. Porter-Kasbati. “We’re not getting rich or anything, but that’s not why we’re here.”
Still, Mr. Porter-Kasbati knows a thing or two about investing. After mentioning that he trades stocks, he blurted out a message into the recorder: “Got to set yourself up a Roth IRA. Take care of yourselves, kids.”
As the News-Press interviewed Mr. Porter-Kasbati and Mr. Navarro, they were attending customers, kids and grown ups alike. The teenage boys who were hanging around in the shop seemed to admire and look up to the two owners, from whom they received advice on boards as well as a camera to shoot videos.
“It’s a place where you go and you hang out,” said Mr. Porter-Kasbati. “You meet friends and you meet the older guys.”
Located at 16 Helena Ave., Lighthouse Skate Shop is open every day.