September 26, 2013

15th Street Surf Shop

15th Street Surf Shop is a small retail, service, and curiosity surf shop in Newport Beach, CA.  Located steps from the beach between Newport Beach Pier and Balboa Pier, its main retail focus is surfwear, surfwear accessories, and beach gear.  Only about 700 square feet in size, it's densely packed with merchandise racks, sometimes requiring some tight maneuvering.  Still, it sells quality merchandise, offers some useful services, and, most interestingly, doubles as a surf museum.

A local Newport Beach mainstay since 1961, 15th Street Surf Shop's current owner is David Moon.  With a background in small business ownership, David turned a passion for surfing into a new business venture by taking over the shop in 1994.  Though you won't run into the owner too often at the shop, there are several young, friendly, and helpful shop employees who will be happy to assist you with whatever you need.

If you're looking for some surfwear, the shop mainly carries the Quiksilver, BBR, and Zonal brands.  For surfwear accessories, the shop has sunglasses (Style Eyes), hats (Quiksilver and BBR), and flip-flops (Quiksilver and Rainbow.)

The shop doesn't sell much in the way of surfboards and surfboard accessories, but it has a broad range of surfing equipment and beach gear for rent.  Novice surfers and beach tourists wishing to surf for the day can rent soft surfboards, skimboards, boogie boards, and wetsuits.  For lounging on the beach, it has beach chairs and umbrellas.  If you're looking to do something a little more active at the beach but not in the water, it has bicycles, tandem bicycles, and volleyball equipment.

Even if you're not in the mood for shopping or renting, the shop has a pretty cool museum worth checking out.  Its surfing artifacts date from the 1920s to the present, and most of them hang from the ceiling.  Look up or around and you'll see old wood plank surfboards, 40s-era surfboards, 50s-era balsa wood surfboards, a motorized aluminum surfboard, and the world's longest vintage surfboard, among other things.

As for its own original surf shop t-shirts, 15th Street Surf Shop basically has two designs, both of which serve as shop logos (besides t-shirts, you'll find one logo representing the shop on stickers and the other on business cards.)  The t-shirt I bought sported the simpler of the two logos, a horizontally-displayed surfboard viewed at its edge with an oval border and the shop name.

The other logo is a little cooler, and I would have gone with that one, but they were out of my size at the time.  It features a sunset, an island in the background, and a surfer getting barreled in the foreground.

The owner used to print his shop t-shirts himself, but he now contracts out his t-shirt printing to Coastal Classics.  Of course, surf shop t-shirt fans should be wary of Coastal Classic-printed t-shirts.  Although they are high-quality, they tend to be template designs with a surf shop's name inserted.  In such cases, they aren't original and unique, which may matter to some fans.  But Coastal Classics also prints unique and original designs submitted by surf shop owners, and that's the case here.

As far as I can tell, the printing method used for 15th Street Surf Shop's t-shirts is screen printing with water-based ink.  The shop logo t-shirts in its current selection are all white t-shirts, and therefore they all have a soft hand because they don't require a white base.  Furthermore, the surfboard logo in particular has thin elements and open white space so not that much ink is used, making for a soft hand.  The shop didn't have any dark t-shirts when I visited.  If they do print some in the future, dark t-shirts with the sunset logo will likely have a slightly heavy hand because of the necessary white base for the bright colors in the logo.

15th Street Surf Shop has a website that you can visit at with more information.  There is no shopping cart there, so if you want an authentic 15th Street Surf Shop t-shirt, you'll have to visit the shop at 103 15th Street near the intersection of 15th Street and Balboa Blvd.  The hours of operation are 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Here's a look inside:

Written by Anthony Fuentez.  You can follow Anthony on Google+.


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