Not All Surf Shops Are Created Equal - 4 Things Great Shops Have In Common

Today I wanted to vent a little and talk about some of the elitism going on out there in surf shops around the country.

Unfortunately surfing is a very guarded industry. The mentality for some is, "If you don't surf, don't start." This is the most ridiculous attitude for an industry that is supposed to be about soul and spirit. It honest to God makes me a little sick to my stomach to see this attitude.

I know where this attitude comes from though... fear. Fear that if the water gets too crowded there won't be any waves for themselves. Fear that someone will find their "secret spot". Fear that the newest surfer won't understand the long and storied history of surfing and where it came from. Fear that the soul of surfing is being sucked out by large overseas conglomerates, foreign board manufacturers, CNC shaped surfboards, and other things.

The problem with this thinking is that it perpetuates those things they're of. Fear is never a state of mind that you should operate from. You should operate from a state of abundance. There are loads of waves out there for everyone. Never is this more prevalent than in local surf shops around the country.

Let me tell you a story. [WARNING] This may make you mad.

We had a guy come to our warehouse the other day to pick up a board. This guy had been around the surfing block. He had been surfing for something like 30 years but for whatever reason he had stopped going... job took him away from the beach I think...

Well, it had been like 10 years since he was in the water and as you can imagine, technology had changed... a lot. Last time he was in the water thrusters were still "king" and Clark Foam still had 90% of the market cornered.

Now, Clark Foam closed its doors, quads are the rage, and epoxies and other composites are turning the surf world upside down. Needless to say, he had some catching up to do.

Here is the bummer or maddening thing though.

He'd stopped by the local surf shop to get caught up, and you know what they said to him, "Dude where have you been... the moon?" We were blown away that a surf shop had treated him with such disrespect.

Now before you get too riled up, I can hear you say, "My local shop would NEVER respond that way." And I agree to some extent, most shops wouldn't respond that way... at least to a seasoned surfer. My personal experience however, a good percentage of surf shops do respond that way to NEW surfers. Like it's beneath them to deal with an unlearned noob. It's just wrong.

Now we don't claim to have all the answers (far from it), but one thing we promise, we don't care how long you have been around or how new you are, we will NEVER make you feel like a kook for asking questions.

I know that there are a lot of good shops out there filled with good people that really do care about the new surfer as much as the pro. Unfortunately they are becoming more and more rare.

SO, how do you know what shops are legit and which ones to avoid?

That's tough. Especially since if you ask around, everyone gives you their opinion as seen through their experience. Which as we explained above, a shop will sometimes respond to you differently based on your level of experience. Here's a 4 ways to determine which shops you should give your business to and which ones to stay away from.
  • What kind of surfboards do they carry? Now I'm not talking about brands, I am talking about shapes. Is most of their stocked boards under 7ft? If so, they're mainly exposed to a more experienced surfer and will likely provide less than adequate info for the newbie. Make sure that you go to a place that has a wide variety of board shapes. Including a large selection of longboards.
  • What's the average age of the hired help? This is sometimes a moving target as there are quality people of all ages. But in my experience, the younger the help, the more agro their attitude.
  • Where are they located? Location will play into it some. For example, a shop located right by a surf break that is really competitive and has a high skill level attached to it could be less enthusiastic about helping you.
  • How do they respond to your questions? This is sorta obvious but shouldn't be overlooked. If the person you're asking questions of seems burdened by your "trivial" questions it may be time to move on. However, he may just be having a bad day. Give everybody a little grace to have a bad day every now and then.
These aren't hard and fast rules so don't flame me in the comments about how your local shops aren't like that or that I am being ridiculous for even bringing it up. The fact of the matter is these attitudes do exist, and if we're going to do anything about correcting it, we need to start talking about it. Anyways, we wanted you to know that we are here to help, without an attitude, whether you're brand new or making your comeback known. Here's what one of our customers had to say about our service:
"After much research in buying my first surfboard I was so happy to making the right choice with your company. Not only were you extremely helpful but you went over and beyond in getting the board in my hands. "The board itself seems to be made for me. I transitioned from a 9' longboard and what an easy transition it was. It catches waves like a longboard but has the flexibility of a short board. Thanks again for great service and product." -Paul M. Puerto Vallarta, MX
Hope this helps you a little on your journey of finding the perfect surfboard. Leave me a comment below if you've experienced or seen any of these attitudes at your local shop. How do you believe we should go about trying to change the attitude in the industry?
To get your questions answered you can either send an email to: surf@degree33.com or call us at: 858-693-3692For simple questions you can check out our FAQ page. Have all your questions answered and ready to buy? Head over to our online surf shop and pick out your new stick.

Start Shopping for a New Surfboard Now- Click Here!


Garek Hurt
Garek Hurt

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8 Comments

Luc Stokes
Luc Stokes

May 07, 2014

Well said Dave. Doesn’t justify it, but certainly explains it.

Dave P
Dave P

May 07, 2014

I live in a very “xenophobic” surf town — Santa Cruz, where kids grow up surfing with their parents and localism is a very real element. But, to be fair, despite all the citation of the world’s saltwater coastline etc., how many good breaks are there that are accessible to ordinary Americans? Without their own jet?

Face it, you can put a tennis court or basketball court or soccer field or even a golf driving range on any old piece of land and practice your skills, but only God can make a Trestles or a Steamer Lane!

I think THAT fact explains localism, without justifying the ugly aspects: there are only a few horizontal miles of good break total on the whole West Coast, probably the same back East.

Jeffc
Jeffc

May 07, 2014

I visited my local shop here in Houston, Tx after a 20 year break from surfing (military) and they were very friendly, but certainly puzzled when I told them about my new Degree33 board. Last time I surfed Mark Richards was my idol and Rusty boards had just become popular. This shop carries only locally-made boards which are in my opinion crazy expensive ($900-1000). I grew up in HB during the 70’s-80’s and remember how bad localism was then. Funny that 90% of the earth’s surface is covered in water and estimates of worldwide coastline are more than 215,000 miles and people are afraid there might not be places to surf.

butch jones
butch jones

May 07, 2014

OVER the years while surfing i have seen many femails trying to learn to surf and some male beginners and a small few would treat them very badly. how i would react to this is to simply try and help the beginners and several times buy them surfboards and continue to help them.Any time i see a surfer treat a beginner like this i make it a point to ask the surfer if they were born a pro surfer and usually that umbles the surfer to take a good look at himself in the mirrow and change his aditude.I ask my friend Dale velzy one time long ago why some surf shop employees would treat new surfers like this and he said because they think they are the greatest surfer and that their shit dont stink and that it sadens me.For someone wanting to learn how to surf i think it is a compliment to the sport. Surfing is a hard sport to learn and it takes alot of determination and i think it is a honor to be able to help someone get started.New surfers are what keeps the sport alive and well for many decades to come. SINCERLY,Butch Jones. mYRTLE bEACH S.C.

Catharine
Catharine

May 07, 2014

Try being a 64 year old woman surfer …. the groms all assume i’m in their shops to buy something for a kid…. and ask a question? you can imagine the type of response i get …

got be have a heart of steel ….

Marc
Marc

May 07, 2014

I agree with Dave. I believe it is both a hazard and disrespectful for any Noob (and I am one) to paddle out in an area of more experienced surfers and serious waves. All though I surfed when I was a kid 20 years ago, I learned a valuable lesson: bad behavior doesn’t trump poor decision making. As a noob, I started back on that same foam top in area of surf that instructors use to teach. I reacquainted myself with the customs, the unwritten rules (like in any sport), and most importantly, gave great respect to the locals. I have since made many friends and surfed along side many (still giving into the lineup when justified).

Nate
Nate

May 07, 2014

We all started somewhere, at some age…some younger than others. We all were noobs. Yes it is frustrating to have a dude in your way but whatever….its a blessing and a privilege to surf, not a right. I live and surf in Pac NW and its not real crowded, but the localism is strong and well, its sad really, short boarders hate longboarders and sup surfers, longboarders hate sups and the cycle goes on. Everyone hates new surfers…but there are plenty of waves and all new surfers become old surfers and better surfers. Surfing is a good way of life no matter what your age, skill or board you ride. I ride them all! Even a Costco soft top, cause its a challenge….so thats my 3 cents!

Dave
Dave

May 07, 2014

Yeah. I have to agree with Dave also. I’m a kid from Santa Cruz and it’s not everyday we have the time to surf. Even if that’s what we want. So when we get the opportunity we want to have fun not have to watch out for some foamtop.

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