It was a rainy British afternoon in Bournemouth on the south coast of the UK, the drizzle had set in for the day and I was waiting for the MOT inspection on my old faithful VW van. Those are anxious times as I am sure some of you may know.
My Dad, who was there for moral support (and a lift if it did not pass) suggested we go and check out this new surf shop he had heard of while we wait. I seemed to think that going to a place that might incite me spend more money was a good idea, who said retail therapy was just for ladies?
Sometimes in the most unlikely of places you can find the most extraordinary things. Almond Surfboards, Deus Motorbikes, Nineplus connections and an amazing sense of equivalence all put together by a family of surfers.
To call Coast Surf Shop just a 'surf shop' feels like I am underselling it. Coast is family run and owned from the ground up, the whole family grew up surfing and still do. They seem to have an amazing ability to gather lots of very nice things, put them together in an almost hypnotic way and throw in the most amazing balance of friendly and relaxed. I also felt no pressure to buy anything… which made me want to spend even more! In 10 mins my mind had bought half the shop.
In short they had got it more than right, and this was no accident as I was about to find out. I asked the guys if they might have some time for a chat, and this what I discovered.
SB: Hey Katie, thanks for agreeing to have a chat with us, how long have you guys been here and how did Coast all come about?
Katie: We're going into our fourth year in May – Coast was born from the idea of wanting to create an all encompassing environment for surfers and the local community, somewhere you could grab a coffee, check out surfboards, watch a surf film and maybe buy a t-shirt.
SB: I understand you guys are literally one big family, can you tell me who does what and who you all are?
Katie: Yep we're literally one big family! The girls; Mum (Hayley) and daughters (me and Lana) run the coffee shop and the buying for the girls' clothes, and Dad (Chris) and son (Jake) run the surf shop side of things, we also have my husband (Jason) doing all the design and social media.
SB: Almond Surfboards are works of art, whose idea was it get those in and how do you manage top hold down an account with them?
Katie: I think it was Jason who first caught on to Almond, being a graphic designer the look of the boards caught his eye straight away and they sit perfectly in Coast. We catch them up whenever we are in California and they know we share the same values.
SB: We have to ask about the failed 'Artificial Reef' in Bournemouth as it is so close, what happened, will it ever work?
Katie: They built it, we got to surf it for a little while, it was a wedgy wave, and then a boat went over it and the propeller literally ripped it apart as it is made of sandbags. Its beyond repair but the fish and crabs have moved in so it's fun for some spear fishing.
SB: What is next for Coast, how do you make this place any better?
Katie: We're definitely pushing more events this year, we've become well known on the local scene for hosting the best surf and lifestyle events and parties. We just hosted the Vans 50th Anniversary party and have a few crackers lined up including a Deus Ex Machina surf swap meet and film première.
SB: You have a small rack of pretty nice secondhand hand boards outside including a Nineplus Malibu that says its SOLD, how much did it go for?
Katie: The Nineplus Malibu shaped by Kevin Connely is a classic example of one of our family boards that’s got put out on the rack but when it came down to selling it – we just couldn't part with it, so it sits out on the rack and is a great reminder of family surf trips down to Cornwall.
SB: How have you guys seen the surf industry change in the last 10 years?
Katie: Certainly in the last few years, surfers are putting some of the soul back into surfing that was taken away & repackaged by surf corporations to sell inland. Many surfers are looking at interesting surf craft made by surfers from UK to California and not in Thai factories. The 'smaller' grass roots brands are getting a following, while the bigger ones lose money and direction. People are enjoying the waves in anyway they want, vintage logs, Bonzers, bodysurfing, just because it's fun and not just in a way that WSL or an energy drinks tell them to.
Surfers are taking back what is rightfully ours : )
SB: Can you describe how it made you feel the first time you caught a wave or got barrelled?
Katie: The first wave, the first time you stand up, the first barrel, it always feels like something special has just happened in your life. Which is why we keep going back for more !!
SB: Thanks to all the guys at Coast for their time and for making something which is truly unique. If only more people had the time, energy and passion to do something that really made a difference in the community. Also the coffee is sublime.
Good luck guys, you can get your hands on some of those boards here.