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Buyer Profile: Thalia Street Surf Shop

Located on Pacific Coast Highway, just above the right-handed reef break that bears the Thalia Street name, the shop caters to the alternative surf and beach lifestyle.

Posted 12/20/2011

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Laguna Beach, CaliforniaEven though Thalia Street Surf Shop is smack dab in the middle of Laguna Beach, home to most of the CEOs of every major surf company, you won’t find any products from Billabong, Volcom, Hurley or even Quiksilver inside their doors.Located on Pacific Coast Highway, just above the right-handed reef break that bears the Thalia Street name, the shop caters to the alternative surf and beach lifestyle.“All those guys (the major surf companies) have their own shops in Laguna anyway, and we just wanted to carry items you can’t get everywhere else and show customers there’s a whole other world in surfing ,” says owner Nick Cocores, who started the shop in 2001.Inside, the shop’s walls are finished with locally reclaimed wooden fixtures, vintage skateboards, and centerpieces from swamp meets. The projector behind the register plays old surf movies all day long, surf racks are filled with a colorful array of retro shapes, and there’s a solid stack of surf DVDs and books that date back to the 60s and 70s.While the ambience inside makes customers feel like they’re transported back to a purer time in surfing’s history, the shop carries only the latest designers.“We are always trying to keep up with the youth and support new projects,” says Nick, adding that he’s currently selling five new brands started by kids in their early twenties, including companies like Mogley.

“In the end these guys are driving the trends anyway, and they’re making shorter board shorts and stuff they want to wear. We are just trying to give them an outlet to make it work.”Besides young brands, Nick said they are inspired by music and art, and carry a lot of independent companies with like-minded missions. Insight, Captain Fin Company, Matuse Wetsuits, Kookbox, Ando & Friends, and other brands like Rake, Hippy Tree and Lighting Bolt Surfboards fill a good portion of their racks.They also carry the camping brand, Polar. “We’re all surfers and for quick jaunts to Baja, Polar makes great stuff,” says Nick.

Being located in a tourist destination, their own branded tees are their top seller. “We get a ton of tourists in the summer, but we also get people from all over Southern California and locals coming in all year long.”While the company does most of their business with independents and their own private label, they have a new unique partnership with Vans.Last year, Nick expanded the shop (they took over the Surf Gallery next door), and Vans came in to create a specific surf-branded concept space. The items are all Vans, but the feel still fits with Thalia’s alternative vibe. Vans helps with visuals and fixtures.“So far it’s been great,” says Nick, who added that the brand also puts on shoe launch parties and movie releases at the store. “We have a lot more eyes on us now and a even more customers coming in.”

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