The reasons behind Pawnshop are simple, it exists because it has to… Anthony and Donovon Piscopo sat down to talk about the diehard skate scene in Covina, CA. Home Is Where The Heart Is couldn’t ring any truer for these two.
Who are you and when did you get into skating and how did the idea to open Pawnshop come about?
Anthony Piscopo : My name is Anthony Piscopo. 1984 is when I got my first skateboard. The idea to open Pawnshop came from the fact that I grew up working in a skate shop. From basically the early 80s into the early 90s, that’s about 10 years straight, I worked at a skate shop. That’s all I really knew and I started it because we just didn’t have anything in this town going on that we were in to. For the most part, more than anything, the reason why we really started it is because there’s nothing more for me. We just wanted to bring up the dudes that are around here.
Donovon Piscopo : Just to fuel the fire of skateboarding in the city, keep everyone going.
Anthony : It’s just the only thing I knew and I was skating with Donovon, I was as skating with John Fitzgerald, and then I just … We just had to do something.
Donovon : It was meant to be.
How did the name Pawn Shop come about?
Anthony : When we got the name for the shop, that’s when I decided we needed to open the shop. For years and years after we lost the first skate shop that I worked at, which was called ‘The Outhouse’, I always wanted to open something. Through ever day job I’ve ever had, that’s what I wanted to do, open a shop. When I finally figured out what the name was going to be, that’s when we could really get it going. I had just got out of jail, and we didn’t have … We barely had any money, but I had worked at this skate shop forever.
Donovon had just turned two, and I literally had nothing at all. I was living in my truck, my Dad had died and I had his ring. I went into the skate shop, and I said ‘Hey man, come on, I’ve worked here my whole life, can we hook it up? He’s two years old, I want to get him something, give me a complete board.’ It was just a bunch of frigging bozos, I had no idea who they were. They just said ‘we can’t hook it up, we can’t hook you up.’
I took off, and I went up the street to a local pawn shop, and I pawned my Dad’s ring. It was for 70 bucks, and I walked back down, and I said I’ve got 50 bucks come on just give me a complete board. I got him an Alien Workshop for his first board for 50 bucks.
Donovan : Alien inception board, it was pretty insane that I ended up being able to ride for them.
Anthony : That was it … That’s why we named it the pawnshop because somehow it came into my mind, fuck that’s what I got. That’s where I got his first board. That’s how I got the money to get his first skateboard, and that came into my mind that that would be a good name for the shop. That’s that.
Did having Donovon influence you to open Pawn Shop?
Anthony : It was a way to cheat, to be able to hold on a little bit longer, because he was getting older, and he was rolling out, doing his thing. I just needed to hold on a little bit longer, and then all of a sudden it just worked out for every other young dude coming up. It wasn’t about the John Fitzgerald show, or it wasn’t about Donovon, it wasn’t like that. It was for all these dudes.
Donovon : Yeah it created a scene. They were fucking some of the best friends I could have ever asked for.
Anthony : They really needed it. It’s cool, the fact that we get kids who come in here, and it’s like a bar where they sit there, and they tell their problems. What’s going on at home, you know what I mean? I don’t know it really helped in that sense. Having a kid that skated, as far as opening the shop, that was a little part of it, but he main thing was for all his buddies, and all that stuff. To have the upbringing that I had.
You work a regular nine to five and run the shop. Who holds down the store on a daily basis?
Anthony : Well, if it wasn’t for my nine to five, I work for the Water Department, we would have never had this place. That’s the thing once I had a true, legit job, you know what I mean? There’s no way you could do this without that job. Just who holds it down on a daily basis?
Donovon : The whole damn city of Covina holds it down.
Anthony : Yeah, it goes through different layers, but Jake Running was in the beginning, and now I’m in as much as I’ve ever been. I’m overseeing it all, and then rest just, all the local dudes.
It gives you a chance to give some of the local kids a job and some responsibility.
Anthony : Almost every one of his buddies have worked here. Boy, girl, I mean we’ve had them all, for sure. Yeah everybody has had a chance.
The Covina skate scene has a history of raising some really talented skaters, but it’s about the style of it. Raw, fast, and powerful are all terms that come to mind. What about Covina do you think breeds that type of skateboarder?
Anthony : It’s just a real blue collar working town, I think.
Donovon : It likes to go fast.
Anthony : I think generation to generation it’s passed on because when I first came into it, it was Curtis Stauffer, David Exner, Aaron Luther. Those were the dudes, and then it just trickled down. From them, to myself, and our whole scene. The Grubers were from around here. It’s just passed on generation to generation, and that’s the best thing about the shop, and then truthfully it’s the only thing. We don’t sell shit. I mean it’s barely a retail business, but what it does is it cultivates all these dudes.
Who are some of your favorite up and comers that roll with the crew nowadays?
Donovon : There’s too many to name, to be honest. I like Joe Campos.
Anthony : It’s hard because it’s all family. Joe though man …
Home Is Where The Heart Is. What does that mean to you and the Pawnshop crew?
Anthony : This is the real deal for us and means so much because we’re so into our town, and what’s it’s cultivated. All the riders that have come out of here, from the 80s to the modern day. Just it’s going through, and through, and through. There’s nothing like a home base, and the whole shop thing has been burnt to pieces. Say two buddies want to start a shop, and they want to live off it, it just can’t happen anymore. There’s just no way, so that part is terrible. Luckily we all have different day jobs, so everybody that works here has different day jobs, or works two jobs and puts it together and stuff. I think it’s so important to have this home base where everybody can come, and you can just do whatever you want here.
Donovon : Fucking everything. It’s fucking everything, if you really think about it. It’s all I have to really say. We love it and what’s happening.
Anthony : It’s still amazing that this many people come here as it is, now with the phones and all that stuff because the skate shop, what I grew up with, was just people there all the time. People would come through the shop on trips like, hey can I stay the night here, you know what I mean? So many people that fucking lived in this shop, which is even better. My best friend who just moved in with me was living in the back of the shop.
Donovon : I know you stayed the night.
Anthony : With my Chihuahua. When I had a fight with my wife, me and my Chihuahua sleep in this closet right here.
Donovon : I brought some ladies here after hours.
Anthony : Yeah, really? That was the last thing I would have ever thought of.
Donovon : That’s funny.
That’s fucking amazing. All right, you guys have already made this one pretty clear, but how important is it to you to give back to the local skate community?
Anthony : It’s hard to put stuff into words. Let me spin it my own way. It’s not even about that. We have a blast doing it. It’s fun. It’s not a thing like, okay we need to do this, or something like that. It’s what we want to do, you know what I mean? I’m 45 years old, and I should be … I don’t know what a 45 year old does, but I get excited for a flat bar Friday. Truthfully, that’s one of the things. I like to say oh, we do it because we want to give back. We just do it because everybody wants to do it, and it’s fun. We do it because everybody has such a good time doing it. It’s not like, what do you call it, a ploy, you know what I mean?
Donovon : We need it.
Special thanks to Anthony, Donovon and the entire Pawnshop family for holding down for skateboarding in Covina, CA for all these years!