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Hobie Surf Shop turned 60 on Valentine’s Day

Sixty years after Hobie Alter set his sights on a vacant-Pacific Coast Highway lot, Hobie Surf Shops continue to embrace the innovation and community roots they grew from. Courtesy of Hobie Surf Shop
Sixty years after Hobie Alter set his sights on a vacant Pacific Coast Highway lot, Hobie Surf Shops continue to embrace the innovation and community roots they grew from. Courtesy of Hobie Surf Shop

By Andrea Papagianis

Since 1954, Dana Point’s own Hobie Surf Shop has embodied innovation and the importance of community. Those values have carried the shop and its founders’ messages for six decades down the Southern California coastline, across the Pacific and beyond.

On Valentine’s Day, Hobie celebrated its diamond anniversary, marking the day 60 years ago that founder and namesake Hobie Alter set eyes on a vacant Pacific Coast Highway lot.

Alter began shaping surfboards out of his parents Laguna Beach garage. But as orders grew and surfing planted its local roots, Alter’s father urged him to branch out. An ‘A’ on a 20-page college paper, laying out Alter’s plan to manufacture and sell surfboards, set the foundation for Hobie Surf Shop.

Hobie established his shop on a basic idea, “Instead of trying to figure out what we might do, let’s first make a list of what we don’t do, and go from there,” Alter said. No suits, ties and underselling of products topped his list and he set out to create the highest-quality boards that people would pay full-price for.

With the addition of long-time friend and surfer Dick Metz to the mix, Hobie Surf Shop grew to multiple locations in Hawaii and Southern California.

Metz added Hobie merchandising, like logoed T-shirts and posters, and helped transform the surf shop into what it is today, said Jake Schwaner, managing partner with Mark Christy of Hobie’s retail operations. “Metz was truly the founder of the retail part. He took it to the next level,” Schwaner said.

The stores go back to the days before surfing exploded on the world scene, back to when Quicksilver founder and CEO Bob McKnight would bring boardshorts in by the dozen, Schwaner said. And as the sport’s popularity grew, Hobie and today’s big surf vendors grew right along with it.

Today, the shop still promotes the same values instilled in its founding.

“People would go to the Hobie store to spot the trends, today it is the same,” Schwaner said. “Our stores are a beacon of fashion trends and industry innovation.”

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