September 12, 2013

The Frog House Surf Shop

Located on the Pacific Coast Highway on the north end of Newport Beach, CA near the Santa Ana River jetties surf spot, The Frog House is a surfer's surf shop.  Literally in the first 20 minutes I was in there checking out the shop's t-shirts and waiting to talk to the owner, a surfer came in to have new fins put on his board, another surfer bought some wax, another one brought in his board to have a ding fixed, and another asked about trading in his board for a discount on a new one.  If you're all about surfing, The Frog House is definitely a surf shop that won't let you down.

Both hardcore and weekend surfers who need to upgrade their gear or pick up some accessories will more than likely find what they need there.  The shop mostly carries Channel Islands, Lost, JS, and Frog House-branded surfboards.  It also stocks a smaller supply of McConnell and DLC surfboards.  If they need a custom job, the shop can get their orders filled through McConnell, DLC, or Balti.  In terms of wetsuits, it mainly carries Quiksilver, O'Neill, Rip Curl, Xcel, and Nineplus.  As far as accessories, it has just about everything.

Novice surfers and tourists are also welcome at the Frog House.  I quickly learned just how much the shop is filled with the Aloha spirit when the shop employees offered me some of the 2-3 pounds of mouth-watering carnitas they were feasting on for lunch!  Now I can't say that a novice surfer or tourist might get a free lunch if he or she stops by, but I can state that if he or she needs to rent a soft surfboard and/or wetsuit to experience an afternoon of surfing, they can get them there. 

If a novice surfer or tourist wants a surf lesson, he or she can book one with one of the guys in the shop or an outside surf instructor that they can recommend.  In fact, it's not unheard of for someone to walk into the shop and get taken out for a lesson right then and there.  It's not guaranteed to happen, but if for some crazy reason someone needs an "emergency surf lesson" the Frog House might be the best bet to get one.

Owner TK Brimer (Photo Credit: Ken McKnight;
When I did get the chance to talk to the owner (he had gone into the back of the shop to put on the new fins), I met a vibrant and friendly guy named TK Brimer.  Although I later learned from a 2007 college newspaper article that the Frog House tries to distinguish itself from other surf shops that focus more on surfwear than actual surfing, TK happily answered my questions about his t-shirts as well as the history of his shop.

Shop logo on front left pocket of t-shirt
TK has been with the Frog House a very long time.  He started working there in 1967 about five years after it was founded in 1962, and he became the owner in 1977.  While there's a great story about the origins of the Frog House name at the shop's website, TK himself told me a great story about the origins of the shop's logo.  About a year after he bought the shop, a young kid came in looking to get a new board.  Unfortunately, he really didn't have any money.  He did, however, happen to have a lot of talent as an artist.  At the time, the shop didn't have an iconic shop logo, so TK made him a deal.  If the kid brought him a new logo that he could use, he would get his new board.  The result was the logo the shop still has today.

As for his shop t-shirts, TK didn't know a lot of details of how they're printed (he's a surfer, not a t-shirt printer.)  I went with a burgundy t-shirt that featured the shop logo.  Although I could be wrong, my best guess is that the t-shirt is printed with discharge ink.  There didn't appear to be a white base under the design (which is standard for bright-colored designs screen printed on dark t-shirts), and after washing the print had almost no hand.  The blank t-shirt itself is a Spectra, 4.5 oz/square yard, 62% cotton, 48% polyester heather t-shirt.  I did notice that some other shop t-shirts were printed on Volcom blanks, so be sure to verify the blank brand yourself.

The shop usually stocks about 3-4 different original shop t-shirts, which are displayed to the right (designs may change.)  If anyone is looking to pick up some new surfwear from the major brands, the shop mainly carries Hurley, Volcom, and Mowgli.  The Frog House's website doesn't have a shopping cart, and in any case it hasn't been updated in a couple of years, but it remains a great place to read some great stories about Frog House history.  If you'd like to order something from out-of-town, you can order just about anything, including one of the Frog House's own original shop t-shirts, by phone at (949)-642-5690.  If you're in Newport Beach, you can visit the Frog House at 6908 West Coast Highway.  Store hours are 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

The shop itself is about 1200 square feet, shaped like a vertical rectangle going straight back from when you walk in the front door.  With a brown, Hurley-branded carpet and a display median running down the middle, you'll find mostly surfwear on the left and wetsuits on the right with surfboards in the back.  Painted on the outside walls are some pretty awesome murals.

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

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