January 17, 2014

Surf & Adventure Co. Surf Shop

As its name implies, Surf & Adventure Co. is about finding adventure as much as it is shopping for surf merchandise.  For adventure-seekers, Surf & Adventure Co. offers a wide range of water sport tours, lessons, and equipment rentals.  For shoppers, it has a surf shop where it sells mostly surf equipment and apparel, including some original shop t-shirts printed in-house.  So if you're in Virginia Beach, VA looking for adventure or surf merchandise, you should consider stopping by.

Surf & Adventure Co. began in 1974 as a beach equipment rental business called Ocean Rentals near Sandbridge Beach in the southeastern corner of Virginia Beach.  Over the years, it branched out into different businesses, but it always stayed focused on the ocean.  Eventually, it got more oriented towards water sports, renting and selling surfwear, surf equipment, and kayaks as well as offering surf lessons and kayak tours.  In 2000, Ocean Rentals split into two businesses.  The surf shop and tours and lessons side of the business became Sandbridge Eco Sports, and Ocean Rentals stayed with the beach and water sport equipment rental side.  In 2006, Sandbridge Eco Sports changed its name to Surf & Adventure Co.

Owner Rob Lindauer
The current owner of Surf & Adventure Co. is Rob Lindauer.  He first became involved with the business when he was only 15 years old, as a lifeguard in the private lifeguard service for Sandbridge Beach started by Ocean Rentals.  Though he pursued other interests over the years, he stayed involved with Ocean Rentals, eventually becoming part owner of the surf shop and adventure business, or what became Surf & Adventure Co., and full owner by 2006 (he also retains a partial interest in Ocean Rentals.)  His M.B.A. from Old Dominion University and his personal passion for surfing have served him well in his management of the surf shop and the adventure business.  He is in the shop frequently, so if you catch him there say hello.  He and his staff are very friendly and willing to answer any questions you may have.

Housed in a powder blue, colonial-style building, Surf & Adventure Co.'s surf shop has hardwood floors, track lighting, and well-spaced merchandise displays.  At around 1500 square feet, it is clean, bright, and uncluttered.  Besides buying surf merchandise, inside you can book tours and lessons and rent beach and water sport equipment.  The equipment rentals are through Ocean Rentals, which is housed in the back of the building.  Although they are technically separate businesses, Surf & Adventure Co. is the public face of both.

If surfwear is what you're after, the surf shop sells apparel from major surfwear brands like O'Neill, Billabong, Hurley, RVCA, and Rip Curl.  It also likes to give smaller, Made-in-the-USA surfwear brands some exposure, so it carries Jetty and Wellen.  Surfwear accessories for sale include flip-flops (Sanuk, Freewater, Reef, and OliKai), sunglasses (Suncloud, Von Zipper, Smith, Electric, and Nectar), and watches (Rip Curl and Freestyle.)

In addition to typical surfboard accessories, the surf shop stocks surfboard models mostly by Global Surf Industries, but it also carries miscellaneous boards by local shapers.  If you want a custom-made board, the shop will submit your specs to local shapers such as Mike Clark, Mike Rowe, Lynn Shell, and Jordan Brazie.  Wetsuits are also available.  The shop has the O'Neill, Billabong, Rip Curl, Quiksilver, and Xcel brands.

If it's adventure you seek, you can definitely find it at Surf & Adventure Co.  If you feel like you are capable of going it alone, the shop rents Global Surf Industries and NSP surfboards.  For the cold Atlantic waters, it rents Billabong wetsuits.  You can also rent stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) and kayaks for venturing out into the ocean or the nearby Back Bay Wildlife Refuge.

But if you need a little guidance, the shop offers surf and SUP lessons as well as SUP and kayak tours.  The lessons are very reasonably-priced.  For example, a 2-hour surf lesson for a group costs $50/person while a private lesson goes for $90 (a typical private lesson costs $80-100 for just an hour.)  The tours are also worthy of serious consideration.  The shop offers SUP and kayak tours of the ocean with experienced guides.  But if you're looking for something a little calmer, you can't beat the tours of the nearby Back Bay Wildlife Refuge.  There you can kayak or paddleboard with experienced guides on glass-flat waters and explore woods, marshlands, and creeks as well as catch sight of birds of prey, migratory waterfowl, and a wide variety of other birds.

On the other hand, if you're definition of adventure includes sitting on the beach and soaking up the sun, the shop is still in the beach equipment rental business and provides  beach chairs, umbrellas, and towels.

Surf & Adventure Co.'s selection of goods and services is indeed massive, but if you're like me you're also deeply interested in its t-shirts.  While its original t-shirt selection is limited, it does have a few options.  I chose the cool shop logo t-shirt.  Basically a pinwheel design with text, the creation of the shop logo was a collaborative effort by the shop employees with multiple inspirations.  They liked the pinwheel concept because the blades looked like both surfboard fins and breaking waves.  It also captured the feel of wind and motion associated with water sports.  Interestingly, Wikipedia notes that one cultural significance of the pinwheel is "freedom of the spirit," as they are sometimes placed on the graves of loved ones.  Okay, that's reading into the logo, but if you're a deconstructionist and believe that texts and symbols have no set meaning, then you are free to see it that way (yep, too much college.)

The blank t-shirt brand for the t-shirt I got was Next Level, model RN111449.  It's a lighter, softer t-shirt, probably in the 4 oz range.  But it's no longer offered by Next Level, so any original shop t-shirt you buy will be different.  The shop will continue to use Next Level blanks, including the lighter and softer models, and similar Chouinard Comfort Colors blanks.  Some t-shirts will be printed using heavier, 6+ oz cotton blanks by Gildan and Royal Apparel.

There are a few other original shop t-shirts, including a "surf bear" concept design and a surf woody car design.  The shop is always encouraging shop employees and local artists to submit design ideas.  Since they have an in-house DTG printer, they can do limited print runs to experiment with t-shirts.  So check back in with the shop in person or even online at Surf & Adventure Co. website for new t-shirts.

Besides a shop with a secure shopping cart, their full, well-designed website has all the details about their tour and lesson offerings, information about its beach and water sport equipment rentals, and even a local surfcam.  If you visit the shop in person, its summer hours are 9 a.m-7 p.m. daily, and its winter hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m Saturday and Sunday.  It is located at 577 Sandbridge Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23456.

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

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