Disneyland For Surfers: Bird’s Surf Shed
I made a presentation at Quiksiler in Santa Monica a few weeks back. The shop is beautiful, like a museum. Lights are shining in your face when you walk in, everyone says Hi and smiles. The furniture is polished so well that you see your face in the reflection of the wood. The guys at the store liked the Wave Tribe gear, or at least that’s what they said.
Five emails later and a few phone calls and I can’t get a call back. ‘Gotta check with corporate.’ Does anyone know Slater’s telephone number? Maybe I could have him call and ask him to call the shop for us. I bet you he would get an answer. I can image it now,
‘Hey guys this is Slater, man I just wanted to tell you that I love that Wave Tribe gear and you should really carry it!’
Ring-ring Wave Tribe headquarters:
‘Hey Wave Tribe, Slater says he likes your gear so we’d like to place an order for 10,000 pieces at 40% below your cost.’
OK back to reality and my real experience yesterday at Bird’s Surf Shed in San Diego. Bird has been in the industry for 41 year and he’s got photos and surfboards all over the walls to prove it. We pulled up to his new shop at 1091 West Morena Blvd in San Diego and reveled in the uniqueness of the structure alone.
His current shop is in a Quonset hut, first shop I have ever seen in what he calls a shed. A Quonset hut is a lightweight prefabricated structure of corrugated galvanized steel having a semicircular cross section. The design was based on the Nissen hut developed by the British during World War I.
The name comes from their site of first manufacture, Quonset Point, in Rhode Island. I like the idea of people using it for surfboards and not war.
I can’t think of anything I want to look at more than surfboards, well, ok, maybe there are a few things I like to look at besides surfboards.
I love to look at mar more than surfboards but surfboards are near the top of the list for sure. Bird has such an awesome collection of boards that I just spent the first ten minutes admiring the saltwater sleds hanging from the galvanized walls (like this Skip Frye Baby Gun). Bird walks up to me while I got my mouth wide open with drool sloping all over the floor and I say half dazed, “this place is a museum.” He says without hesitation,
“don’t say that, in a museum you can’t touch anything, here you can touch or ride anything you see.”
My mouth watered as I imagined taking one of his OG Mini Simmons shapes from the wall into some deep outside ramblers at Blacks right up the road. Too bad it was like one foot, maybe a foot and a half at Blacks that day.
Our conversation turned to his shop and he showed me around. He’s got a shaping bay in the back that you can rent after you template one of the hundreds of shapes hanging from the hut steel.
He also has an awesome library of vintage magazines and surf videos. And yes, you can touch them all you want. Bird spoke about bringing the surf soul back into the shop, creating a space for surfers, ‘returning surfing back to its roots’ is what I call it. I imagined Bird’s Shed somewhere in Hawaii in the early days of the sport, where people who love to surf come together in respect and honor of the life we have all chosen as surfers.
Exchanging stories, comparing surfboards, dreaming of that next exotic surf adventure. The surf shed is more like a community recreation center than a surf shop. Our friend David Garrett calls this shop ‘Disneyland for surfers’ and I think he is onto something there.
Shop, shed, hut—call it what you like—Bird’s Surf Shed is a place you’ll want to visit on any trip down south.
Tell bird we said Hi and don’t forget to pick up your Wave Tribe eco surf goodies while meandering around the hut. Bird loved the Wave Tribe gear and we’ll be sending down a few boxes later this week. And Slater didn’t even have to call, what do you know about that?