Surf shops are a dime a dozen in Southern California. Everything from wholesale warehouses to small, boutique businesses. Some are soulless, others are awe inspiring. Boards being built, shorts being sewn – the essence of 1960s surf culture still alive in some. Authenticity is important, though. The big brand stores selling so much of the same shit; shirts with swirly logos and crazy color combos. Apparel and accessories not made in America. Profit margins being of the utmost importance. Almond Surfboards and Designs was a different story, though. Founded in 2008 by Dave Allee and a handful of friends, Almond is “the premier lifestyle brand of the Surfer+Craftsman… a collaborative effort of friends who enjoy making things the old fashioned way.” I can get into that. So when we were in So-Cal a few weeks ago, we took some time to visit their new store in Newport Beach.
It sits on the side of the Pacific Coast Highway, a rather infamous stretch of pavement that has transported surf seekers since the early 1940s. It’s unassuming from the outside. A grey(ish) blue building with a small sign in the window. But when you walk in, the tall ceilings and exposed air ducting, the assorted surfing shapes on one side, clothing and accoutrements on the other, you realize this isn’t going to be an ordinary experience. And then there’s Dave. A handsome young man in his late-twenties, Dave couldn’t have been more inviting. He showed us around the shop; boards and bikes and small wooden skateboards and all kinds of clothing. He talked about crafting things in California, his passion for producing. He smiled when we explained what it’s like to be a surfer from Seattle. Genuine is what I would say. A damn fine dude.
We spent three or four hours inside their shop. Karissa found a few things she couldn’t live without, including a Pepto-Bismol pink Lumberjack that was hiding in the corner (unfortunately she couldn’t afford to keep it). We walked out with that warm fuzzy feeling you can acquire only when you surround yourself with the stoked. People that honestly appreciate our salty lifestyle. So-Cal or anywhere else. We seek the same thing. And the guys at Almond Surfboards and Designs are doing their part to keep people interested in our ideals.
Justin Coffey is known to enjoy small waves, strong drinks, motorcycles and misbehaving. He’s also the guy that runs Peanut Butter Coast.