Along the ocean coasts of America lies a plethora of surf shops, whether it be your neighborhood shop or the well known tourist store. However, what is it that makes one surf shop stand out from another? As a consumer, I can tell you the relationships merchants and I build together and store interaction are few of the many factors that keep me coming back. When it comes to many surf stores in Florida, these elements are not as emphasized as they are on the West Coast. Nonetheless, with owners from the West Coast, Windansea Boardshop holds community interaction to a forefront, bringing the surfing neighborhood together.
With an indoor skate ramp, free beer on tap, surf and SUP lessons, hands on shaping lessons, lifetime ding repair offers, and being Carver repair certified Windansea encompasses a surfers dream.
“When I moved out here I did all of my due diligence looking at different shops,” said store owner Erik Thomas. “What I saw was a lot of gaps in service. Many of the surf shops were not set up to cater the community, they lacked that personable quality.”
On the West Coast of North America there are a lot of smaller family owned local shops. The legacy shops have been around for years and those are the places that neighborhood surfers go to frequently where interaction is significant. Having been from the San Diego area the owners of Windansea took the best practices out of those stores and incorporated them into their shop.
Windansea Boardshop has been open for a little over one year. Erik Thomas, his wife Dawn Thomas, and his two children Peyton and Hannah are all shareholders of the company. The family was living in San Diego and Erik had been retired a few years after selling his last corporation. As an Aquarius water child with a background and passion for all things surfing and ocean related, Windansea was the perfect proposition for Erik and his family. He originally looked to start the company in the San Diego area, yet the market was saturated with local surf shops and the cost of living was unviable.
On a search for decent waves, a pleasant community and a convenient site for a board shop, Erik and his son Peyton took a trip to Cocoa Beach in June 2014 thereafter making 5 more trips through September that year. They then decided that Cocoa Beach was the spot that they wanted to be and loaded up their RV driving across country in 10 days.
“I was blown away when I came to Cocoa Beach and no shops had shaping bays in them,” said Erik. “Probably 50-70% of the shops in San Diego have that amenity.”
Providing a shaping bay is a huge benefit for the surfing community, thus Erik knew it was imperative to incorporate this into Windansea. To shape a board the going rate is $50 for the instruction fee, and a payment for purchasing the blank. First the customer decides what kind of board they want , then together Erik and the client will device a template for it. Next, Erik shows the consumer how to lay it out, create a template, put the template on the blank, choose the right blank for the right rocker profile, make sure their board will fit that blank and go through the rest of the process. The average time to shape a board is about 3-4 hours a day. Therefore, depending on the board the total time would be about 12 hours. In the end the surfer ends up with a custom shaped board with fin boxes cut out ready to glass for about $450-470.
“So many people that surf have never built their own board,” said Thomas, “So it is really hands on. This is a nice and safe environment which gives them a chance to come do it.”
In the beginning, Windansea was more geared towards paddle boards. “The fact is the East Coast is about 2 years behind on paddle boarding from the West Coast so we biased towards paddle boarding to try and build that community,” said Erik. However, the surfboard products boomed a lot faster than he anticipated. This year the shop plans on capitalizing bringing more surfboard products in for everybody.
Another noteworthy service Windansea offers is their stock of Infinity and Coreban boards. For those of you who are not familiar, these boards are extremely custom and tailored to performance which have been built for some of the best team members in the industry. These are still known as a surfboard manufacturer, however their paddle boards are extremely specific for the maneuvers they do. For paddle boarders in the area who are looking for a top tier board for high performance, Windansea is able to accommodate them with this brand.
“In my opinion, they are the best made production board out there,” laughed Erik as lifted up his sleeve to reveal his Coreban tattoo on his left bicep. “The running joke is to what level is my commitment.”
As for the skate aspect, that was more of an afterthought. Erik knew he wanted to have the ramp for interaction, yet did not realize the rampant growing market of skateboards and the effect it would have on his shop. Overall, the skate department is about 50% of total transactions in the shop. Windansea is also authorized to repair Carver boards, something no other skate shop in the area provides.
Overall, the positive influential vibe that Windansea provides is moving. This positive energy exchange is something that East Coast shops are slowly starting to catch on to, yet many lack. Windansea Boardshop is more than simply a store, it is a movement;bringing ocean lovers together towards a common purpose.
“With this job I get to meet people and receive that influx which is something I really dig,” said Erik. “I would rather start out a relationship with you and get to know each other so we can grow together and have a good time.”