Wind blown weekends in California are great for dropping in on surf shops. For anyone near Cardiff by the Sea, a new kind of T shirt buying, board eying experience is available as Patagonia opened their first surf shop this afternoon.
I stopped by and was rewarded with the chance to talk with Chris Malloy and Devon Howard about the store. It became apparent while talking with these guys that they had incredible influence over everything from the location and the products down to the displays. Chris took the time to show me around a bit and talked about his role in the company and store. You could really see the stoke when he explained things like how paddle boards were essential and the Geoff McFetridge mixed media installation behind the counter.
Devon embodied Patagonia’s enviro and community minded approach to doing business by offering the store’s space to community meetings and providing a contact at a local group looking to restore the San Elijo Lagoon.
A warning though, for those of you expecting a standard surf shop experience: the Patagonia shop isn’t it. What the Malloy brothers and Patagonia team have crafted here, is a waterman’s shop. Don’t get me wrong, you still have plenty of sick shred sleds to choose from. Fun looking fish and longboards, eggs and a gun or two also occupy the racks. You’ve got your DVDs, board bags, leashes and traction pads too. What sets the shop apart, are the paddle boards hanging from the ceiling, the spear-guns waiting to get at a halibut, and an assortment of watercraft ranging from handboards all the way to the outrigger canoe in the courtyard (which we will surely see in the Cardiff lineup this summer).
Noticeably missing from the shop are the huge Point Of Sale displays most other shops are overrun by. True, there are a few pure product placards, like the one that explains what a sheep has to do with the Patagonia wetsuits. While browsing this store though, you are much more likely to read about the overfishing of our oceans or see a card promoting the artist involved in the product.
Also absent are boards made with PU/PE construction and other shaper’s boards. Given Patagonia’s environmental standards for the products it sells, the lack of PU/PE isn’t a suprise. As for the latter, I suppose you won’t see a new Merrick at T.Patterson’s shop in San Clemente…
Overall, the shop comes off as almost too well done. Every product seems perfectly presented. I figure though, it’s only their first day. Eventually a bar of wax will get misplaced, the Ts will need to be folded again and some guy who just broke his leash on an overhead day at Suckouts will track in some sand and salt.