ENCINITAS —The house that Don built is celebrating 50 years of family. Hansen’s is known the world over as a premiere retailer, but to the residents of Encinitas and the visitors who flock to the store year after year, the shop is built on consistently good customer service.
“We take a different focus than a lot of businesses,” said Josh Hansen, one of the three children who work for the business. “When you come in here (to Hansen’s) it’s like coming to see family,” he said after working at the store for a decade.
The gleaming building at the southern end of downtown has its roots in humble beginnings. Hansen Surfboards was established in 1961 on Oahu’s famous North Shore by Don Hansen. Just a year later, he moved the shop from the small shack on Kawela Bay to a larger building overlooking Cardiff Reef.
It was here that Hansen’s surfboard shaping business really began to grow. The reputation of his boards reached beyond the boarders of Encinitas into the international surfing community.
By the mid-1960’s, Hansen Surfboards was shipping surfboards to many parts of the world. Many of Hansen’s original shapes are still available today at Hansen’s. In fact, Hansen’s now stocks approximately 700 surfboards, both Hansen surfboards and also surfboards by other manufacturers including Lost, Channel Islands/Al Merrick, Simon Anderson, Byrne, Chemistry, SurfTech, Aviso and S-Core. It’s a cornucopia of boards in every shape and size for any surfer at all levels.
Within the following decade, Hansen’s transitioned into a retail business and quickly became one of the most popular and well-known surf shops in Southern California. With only one location in downtown Encinitas, the Hansen family — including longtime employees — is on track to celebrate another 50 years of business.
“We’re a surf, beach lifestyle company,” according to Hansen. “With 16,000 square feet of retail space, Hansen’s has the unique ability to offer something for everyone in the family, both young and old. We’ve got apparel, beach accessories, surf gear, snow gear, skate gear and even home décor and books. In fact, it is now the largest surf shop in San Diego County.
While the online business brings in good sales, it’s the face to face contact and relationships with loyal, local customers that drives Hansen’s success. “We’re not just selling products,” Hansen said. “It’s the experience that you get when you walk in these doors.”
Engaging customers and being a core part of the community are fundamental to the success of Hansen’s.
“We’ve got the ‘Goods for Grades’ program where we really get to reward kids for doing well in school,” Hansen said. “We thrive on giving back to the community that’s given us so much.” Groms and wahinis frequently bring in their report cards for discounts on the goods in the shop.
Hansen’s is a destination rather than a surf shop. After 50 years, the family has built its reputation on hard work and dedication to the community.
“Why would we ever leave this place?” Hansen asked as he looked over the Pacific Ocean. “We’ve got the best of all worlds right here and we’re looking forward to being here for another 50 years.”