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.