Stewart Surfboards is one of the best-known longboard labels in the world. And just as there’s a strong local contingent of longboard surfers who are diehard Stewart fans, there are tons of out-of-towners who flock to the shop in search of the perfect board.
The popularity of the surf brand has made the shop sort of a mecca for longboards in Orange County. “Stewart Surfboards is a destination location,” says Manager Bjorn Deboer, who’s been at the shop for four years. “People come for the boards.”
When we checked out the store in mid July, there were more than 200 brand-new boards on the floor, and at least twenty used boards upstairs. And that’s empty, according to Deboer. During the summer months eggs and longboards fly from the racks.
Because the shop is so longboard heavy, most of Stewart’s customers are older. As a result, softgoods sales are a bit of weak. “Most of our customers are from twenty to 50 years old,” says Deboer. “Shorts and trunks have been slow because the stuff is too tech-y for them.” Quiksilver and O’Neill have the biggest presence in men’s apparel, and Roxy has a hold on the juniors’ department.
Where apparel has been lagging, accessories have been picking up the slack. “We’re getting more calls from customers for accessories than anything else,” says Deboer. Fortunately, Deboer reports that manufacturers have been great at delivering fill-in orders.
O’Neill wetsuits are also popular with Stewart customers. The shop has ramped up its rubber offering, even going with custom fixtures from O’Neill. In addition, the shop has a cool art room that features not only work from professional artists but from local high school students as well.
Business is good at Stewart, but it’s not where it was in 2000, which Deboer calls a “banner year.” But that doesn’t have anyone in the shop worried. After all, the shop has been in business in San Clemente since 1985 and has seen the ebb and flow of both the economy and the surf industry. And with a label as popular as Stewart Surfboards, there’s no doubt Stewart will be supplying the longboard contingent for years to come.
Window Brands: NoneMajor Display Brands: Billabong, Quiksilver, O’NeillStrongest Category: LongboardsWeakest Category: Walkshorts, trunksStrongest Brands: Stewart surfboards, O’Neill, QuiksilverBest Reps: Kent Stevens and Sandy Schwarzenbach (Quiksilver), Charlie Satzler and Wyatt Simmons (O’Neill)