Aussie Island Surf Shop at their current location – going on 5 years.
When and why did you start Aussie Island Surf Shop?
Well, it is a passion for sure. An opportunity fell into my lap when I was really young so my brother and I started up the shop. He was 20 and I was 18 plus we already had a friend in the business so it seemed like a good idea.
Did you open your doors at the Landfall (previous) location near Wrightsville Beach, NC?
We did. We were there for 16 years. We’ve been here for five, we just had our 20th anniversary…last March.
Going on 21 years, yeah. Thank you.
When you guys moved, I was talking to some friends, asking “Why did they move?” So, why?
We had a 10 year lease, then after that we had a 5 year lease, then a 1 year. We were there 16 years. We were actually occupying 3 units. The CAM fees killed us because we had 3 units so we were paying three different CAM fees, it was almost more than my rent. They were really, really, really high by the time we left. We even tried to buy the units, but in the end, this was a better choice for us.
They carry a plethora of new and used boards.
What is your favorite part of running Aussie Island?
The people, customers and employees. The people definitely.
So you and your employees are pretty tight-knit?
Oh yeah, absolutely. We’re like family. Most of my girls, my girl that’s just now leaving has been here…she’s been here I’d say close to 7 years. The girl before her was right at 7 years. One of the girls just finished dental school, another girl just finished medical school. Former Managers: Two of the guys, one of them is Navy Seals Intelligence and the other is flying Apache Hellicopters. So its really cool to see the kids grow up and to be a part of their lives. Most of them work through college, some just high school, but most work all the way through college and maybe a little longer. I really like it.
What are some of your favorite spots for surfing and snowboarding, local and in general?
We’ve been surfing the same spot at Figure 8 for 20 years with guys like Will Alison and others so that’s one go to for sure. We used to be all by ourselves and you can imagine how the crowds have picked up. Sometimes we need to direct traffic so to speak, make sure people stay in line and respect the lineup. Mas is a good one and I haven’t surfed there in a while, but that’s one I’ve been surfing for years and years. CB is great too! I remember going to the coves; First Cove, Second Cove with Dean and Pat McMannis back in the day. One of them is a highway patrolman in the Outer Banks now. We surf all over around here locally, but we love to hit Puerto Rico. I’ve been going there for years and we always get treated really nice since we have known the locals forever. As for snowboarding, I haven’t been around to a ton of places, but we’ve got a friend out west who ran the terrain park out on Mt. Hood so for two years in a row Chris (my shop manager) and I go visit him and got the red carpet treatment. That place is really sweet and I’m never going to forget that.
Team rider Guion Lee, spotting the landing.
What are the best places to stay when visiting your area?
Jameson Inn is sweet because they allow dogs. They’re off Dunlea Ct., directly to the left of the shop.
What’s the most exciting development in action sports in the past year–from your perspective?
I don’t know if I’d categorize it as exciting, but there has been lots of consolidation with brands, shops and shapers. Many of what people would consider the “smaller” brands fall under the umbrella of a larger well-known brand, but people that aren’t in the industry don’t know that. Billabong is a prime example.
Which athletes do you follow?
That’s a tough one since we service so many sports, I honestly don’t really keep up with the up-and-comers. I don’t do the fantasy surfer league or anything like that. There’s just so much national and international talent out there these days, and of course Slater still dominates. The guys I admire are the good role models. I have a son who is 11 so the ones that can carry on an actual conversation and can be a person that the kids look up to is a must. Making time for the fans and not just coming out for your heat and running right back to the tent afterwards is always a trait of a true professional athlete.
Team rider Drew Mayer, making the most of the summer swell.
What is the local competitive scene like?
The ESA has had a great influence on the area and has always brought in all age groups to compete. I’ve talked to a lot of the kids who are now older that have been out of it for a while and are wanting to get back into it. It’s structured, which is essential to the competitive realm of the sport. Surfing for 2 hours for fun is never the same as shooting for 4-5 good solid rides in a 15-20 minute time-frame.
Any new products or product developments that you’re excited about?
There’s a lot out there. The styles and colors of sunglasses are always changing. Watches are coming back more as a fashion accessory that just a tide watch. Board shorts have taken off the past couple of years as well as the technology in wetsuits. Snow gear has really improved, but we’re seeing more interest in the surf stuff with us being more surf than snow. The tech of the heated vests has also come a long way and the price has come way down.
Anything else you want to get out there?
Chris Jackson (my shop manager) is my right hand man and this place probably wouldn’t still be standing without him. Thanks a ton for everything you do Chris! We’re planning on opening a satellite location and are shooting for a March opening date so keep your eyes peeled.
Learn more at Aussie Island Surf Shop’s website, Aussie Island Surf Shop’s Facebook, Aussie Island Surf Shop’s Twitter or Aussie Island Surf Shop’s ActionSportsNow.com profile where you can rate/review your experience.