May 16, 2014

Strong Current Surf Shop

In my travels for this blog, I have visited many different kinds of surf shops, including surfer's surf shops, apparel surf shops, and tourist surf shops.  Whatever the focus of the surf shop, it's always nice to come across shops that put serious effort into their own original line of shop t-shirts.  After all, this blog is mainly about the unique and special t-shirt category of original surf shop t-shirts.  These kinds of t-shirts not only allow surfers and surf fans to take pride in their sport, but also they enable locals and tourists to identify with a larger beach lifestyle, all with a strong sense of locale.  One such surf shop that puts serious effort into its own original line of shop t-shirts is Strong Current Surf Shop in Haleiwa, HI.  Essentially an apparel surf shop, it exclusively sells its own line of apparel, with an emphasis on original shop t-shirts.

The founders of Strong Current Surf Shop were husband-and-wife Johnny and Bonnie Moore.  Both originally from New Jersey, Johnny worked in an Atlantic City casino and Bonnie worked as a waitress at the Ocean City landmark restaurant The Crab Trap before moving to the North Shore.  Initially a two-floor shop when it opened in 1989 in a small shopping center, it sold surfboards, surfboard accessories, and original shop apparel downstairs.  Upstairs, it printed its t-shirts and other apparel with its own screen printing equipment.

In 2003, the shop moved to its current location in an original plantation building common to Haleiwa.  About 1000 square feet in size, the shop has that cool feel that cement buildings often do.  Its cement floor is warped from water damage, but it gives the shop a little character.  Adorning the walls and ceilings is some neat surf memorabilia.  Avid surf memorabilia collectors, the Moores amassed over the years an impressive enough collection of surfboards, surf movie posters, and other surf artifacts to open a small surf museum at another location.  Just a few years ago, however, the surf museum closed, though several items can still be seen in the current shop, including vintage surf and skateboards from the 60s and 70s, Clark foam blanks, and surf movie posters.  After the couple's divorce, Bonnie Moore, now Bonnie Isaac, became the sole owner.

Today the shop no longer sells surfboards and surfboard accessories.  Unlike most other surf shops, it also doesn't offer surf or beach equipment rentals, nor does it book lessons or tours.  It doesn't even carry apparel from the major surfwear brands.  What it does is sell its own original line of apparel, including sweatshirts, hoodies, and hats, but mostly t-shirts, including short-sleeve, long-sleeve, and tank tops, in both men's and women's styles.  It is a surf shop t-shirt fan's kind of shop.

The shop's original logo was a simple text logo featuring the shop name "Strong Current" on a plain surfboard background.  Sometime later, the Moores upgraded the official logo to what it is today.  It features a silhouetted standing surfer with arms upraised on the right side of an oval border that encircles the shop name "Strong Current" and location "North Shore, Hawaii."  Strong Current Surf Shop also has a second logo that it uses mostly for women's apparel.  Similar to the official logo, it displays a hula girl on the left side of an Hawaiian floral oval border encircling the shop name and location.

The shop frequently uses either logo as the featured design on its apparel.  The t-shirt I chose to purchase had the official logo enlarged on the back and printed over a background of a row of surfboards. A smaller version of the logo was on the front left chest.  The t-shirt was a good quality screen print with a surprisingly soft hand (probably due to the thinner elements of the design, the transparent background of the logo, and the layering of the ink.)  The shop no longer prints its own apparel, instead contracting out its screen printing work.  My t-shirt was printed on a Comfort Colors blank, though the shop's printer also uses Yesterdays and Hanes blanks as well.

Besides shop logo t-shirts, the shop has a wide variety of other surfing-themed designs to choose from, including some cool surf car and North Shore-themed designs.

Strong Current Surf Shop doesn't have much of a web presence, so if you want to thoroughly shop its original apparel you'll have to do it in person while you're at the North Shore, Oahu.  It is located at 66-214 Kamehemeha Highway, right in the middle of Haleiwa.  It is open from 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., 7 days a week, year-round.  If by chance something in this article caught your eye, you might be able to make arrangements for a purchase by phoning the shop at 808-637-3410.

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