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The End of The Core Surf Shop?

The effects of the current economic crisis have been fairly visible throughout the community. Everything from established brands to major surf events have been touched in a bad way by the weak economy and have the battle wounds to show it. However, one group that seems to be taking it especially hard right now are the independent, core surf shops that have long been a staple of the sport.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve come to find out that some of my long time “go-to” surf shops in both Southern California and Hawaii are getting set to permanently close their doors. For many of them, last hopes of a Christmas turnaround was grasping at straws. Now, they sadly find themselves drowning and unable to make ends meet; unable to compete with with multi-million dollar corporations at a time when every penny counts.

With all this going on, I was stoked beyond belief to lay eyes on this article put out by Surfline recently. It’s an entertaining piece that very clearly illustrates the seemingly impossible odds the core shops are facing. But more than being a must read, the article is a preface to something I feel Surfline should be commended for: Running a series that gives a voice and a whole lot of love to “surf shops around the country that best represent the values, history and authenticity of what a core store should be.”

It’s on our shoulders to make it a point to keep our truly core shops alive. Not just in surfing, but in all of the sports that make our worlds go round. I’m all for riders like Shaun White and Carissa Moore who are raking in the cash from Target and others just to stick their name on a product. But I personally have never had the desire to go and shop there. And imagine being relegated to just that? It’s a scary thought.

We are obviously all feeling strapped by the economy, so I’m not going to give one of those “let’s all run out and spend money at surf shops just to keep them afloat” lines. But just be sure to keep them in mind the next time you want to treat yourself to any surf-related goodies.

“Surfing is magical, and the one place where we all gather outside of the water is magical as well. We, the authentic surf shops, are nothing less than shrines to the sport. We provide the essentials for riding waves, and we provide a place for surfers to connect, communicate, and share the stoke. Just as wavepools fail to deliver the magic found in the ocean, pseudo-surf shops fail to offer a genuine experience. Truth be told, I don’t deserve the credit. It isn’t the building or the smells that make a surf shop special. It’s people. And those people don’t just smell like surf, they do it.”

Posted by Shaun on Sunday, January 11th, 2009 in Surfing.


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