Spotlight: Thalia Surf Shop

Thalia Surf Shop is a family-run business. Can you give us some insight on how it started and what your vision for the shop is?

Jim Cocores, Nick’s father, started Thalia Street Surf Shop so Nick grew up working at the shop and learning the trade. When the time came in 2001, Nick took the reins and began Thalia Surf Shop a few doors down, but on the same street corner. An art gallery opened next door soon after, making opportunities to host for Laguna’s art walk and to bring the community together around the shop. In 2010, Thalia Surf teamed up with Vans and began one of the only few partnership stores that is still going today. The vision of the shop has always been to create a classic but modern surf experience.

Thalia focuses on smaller, niche brands rather than the bigger ones. When did this get started and how has it made you stand out from other surf shops?  

The smaller niche brands are what we care about. These are the brands that focus on the quality of the product they are making, rather than the quantity and mass production. They are also usually working with unique artists that bring charisma to the shop when the product hits our shelves.

We have always had this mindset when creating new products for the Thalia Surf label as well: Bringing in local artists, a local screen printer and manufacturers to pass along a true California-made product with a story.

” The vision of the shop has always been to create a classic but modern surf experience. “

You have some unique surfboards in your shop, including tons of locally shaped boards. What are the driving factors in choosing what shapes you carry? 

There are so many great local shapers that have passed through our shop. Thankfully, they are aware of the history of surfboard building, where it began, and where it can go. We have many vintage boards hanging from the ceiling of the shop from Jim Cocores’ collection to keep us inspired. All the new boards that come in each month reflect the shaper who made them, and the history lessons they have learned along the way.

The surfboards we carry are models shaped and tested by the shapers who make them before we order versions of their crafts. We dig the shapes of the 60s, 70s, 80s and lean towards single fin or twin fin boards whenever we can. The driving factors in how we choose what shapes to carry has to do with whatever trip each shaper is on at the time, and the shapes they are making for the specific waves in each season. 

You originally began screen printing your own shirts but then eventually partnered with Forward Screen Printing (FSP) for all your printing needs. Why is it so important to you to keep your screen printing local and close to home?

It always made sense to do it ourselves, the DIY spirit. Sean at FSP and Nick have been close friends since the beginning, and that was the next step in the growing process as a company. Expanding production to FSP helped Nick and the crew at the shop focus on other aspects of the company, in order to further tell the story of a local surf shop in Laguna Beach.

” The smaller niche brands are what we care about. These are the brands that focus on the quality of the product they are making, rather than the quantity and mass production. “

What’s the best thing about owning and running a surf shop? 

The friendly and inspiring community, the everchanging interesting and totally cool staff, just being a block from the beach, and getting to chat about surfing all day.

When is the best time of the year to visit and surf Laguna Beach and the surrounding beaches? 

Just before spring and just after summer. That’s when the crowds thin out, things calm down, and the weather is still heaven. If there is any swell, a medium tide is best for behind the shop out on Thalia Street Beach.

What drew you to offering MANERA products in your shop?

We were looking for a quality wetsuit to sell year-round. We read about the 3-D pattern making of the suits and just had to check it out!

Can you tell us what your favorite MANERA product has been?

The Seafarer 3.2mm is ideal for California water and can essentially be worn year-round here, whether it’s a cold morning in the summer, or a nice warm day in the winter. It’s a very useful wetsuit. I also heard the hoods and gloves are rad too!

915 S. Coast Hwy,
92651 Laguna Beach, CA
(949) 497-3292

Spotlight: Aqua Surf Shop in San Francisco

Can you give us a little background on Aqua Surf Shop? How was it started and what’s your vision for it?

We started in 2002 when myself and Aleks Petrovitch bought an existing shop called Aquaholics that was on Sloat Blvd. When we first opened, it was a small operation that we just tried to build every year by taking care of local customers and trying to invest our time into making a shop that was totally approachable to all walks of life. We grew overtime at that location by hosting movie nights, art shows, swap meets, board demos, and throwing parties to support local brands. When we were forced to move from Sloat, we were lucky enough to stay in our roots in the Sunset District and have been at our current location on 44th and Judah for the past six years.

Your shop is located in a pretty iconic spot just off of Ocean Beach in SF. What makes your location special?

Our shop is a short walk from Ocean Beach, an amazing location at the bottom of Golden Gate Park which makes it accessible to all of the Bay Area. When we opened, we were focused on creating a core shop for the community of surfers we belonged to, it just so happened that we had a world class stretch of beach just a few blocks away from our shop’s doors.

“It’s not just the shop’s community, it’s my community as well.”

What is your favorite part about owning a surf shop? 

I grew up surfing and it was something I was invested in my whole life. I traveled the world surfing different spots and when the opportunity to own a surf shop presented itself a few years after I graduated from SF State, I thought that it would be a great first business to be a part of. Who would have thought that 20 years later, I would be running the same business in the community that I’m now raising a family in.

How do you feel your business fits/reflects the community? 

There’s always been a surf community in Ocean Beach but I feel like over time it’s become even more surf focused. We’ve had a core group of surfers in the Sunset District for many years and we’ve tried to facilitate their needs. At the same time, a lot of them have become friends and we’re still making new friends to this day. We’ve always supported all the local businesses around us because we’ve all lived in the Sunset since the beginning, it’s not just the shop’s community, it’s my community as well. 

“We’ve always supported all the local businesses around us.”

When is the best time of the year to visit and surf OB and surrounding beaches? 

Ocean Beach’s surf season usually starts in the fall and goes through the winter, anywhere from September to February or March. It all depends on the year because Ocean Beach is one of the most fickle beach breaks in the world as far as the weather and swell directions go. 

What are your favorite local surf spots?

My favorite surf spot is in front of my house in the middle of Ocean Beach and having a family and all the responsibilities of life doesn’t take me too far away.

What drew you to offering Manera products in your shop? 

When I first heard about Manera, I checked out the product and saw that the neoprene was high quality and saw the good fit achieved by their 3D fitting process. My manager at the time tried the wetsuits out and he really liked the way that they felt and thought they were warm and so we brought them in and they have done well. We’ve gotten good response from long-time customers who have bought them. When people stop me on the beach to tell me how much they like the suit, I guess it’s a good thing.

Can you tell us what your favorite Manera product has been? 

My 5/4/3 Hooded Meteor Magma has been a lifesaver on the colder days we’ve been having as of late.

Is there a specific Manera product that your shop employees gravitate towards?

Everyone has been frothing on the new hooded 4/3 X10D.

Is there anything else we should know about Aqua Surf Shop? 

We’ve always been a part of the community that we love supporting. It’s been rad seeing the same core surfers that came in 20 years ago start families of their own and seeing a whole new crop of groms on the beach. It’s been a pleasure seeing friend’s kids that are as old as the shop now charging at Ocean Beach.

If you’re in the Bay Area, check out Aqua Surf Shop at:
3847 Judah St, 94122 San Francisco, CA – United States 
Phone: (415) 242-9283