The Coast News Group
A real surf shop making real surfboards. Photo by Chris Ahrens
A real surf shop making real surfboards. Photo by Chris Ahrens

Waterspot: Support your local surf shop

As some lament the clogged supply chain being interrupted, others celebrate the fact that all this crap is being stalled from achieving its final resting place, our local landfills.

Regardless of how you feel about it, just within reach of a strong swimmer are everything from pop-out surfboards and $25.00 bodyboards, to Christmas tree stands that will hold a Douglas fir in place for a week or two.

Some wise and thrifty shoppers, however, have no more concern about prefab reindeer and flame retardant Santas achieving the chimney by December 25 than they are about termites eating the tree they aren’t going to buy.

They scour shelves closer to home for various clever knick-knacks and handmade goods, some of which have been built just up the block. In case you’re wondering, I’m talking about surfboards.

The surfboards many of us in North County ride are often built in San Marcos, Oceanside or Encinitas. And while you won’t find any handmade surfboards (or anything else crafted by humans) in large department stores, you will find them at your local surf shop where surf stoked proprietors struggle, wondering if they will be able to keep their doors open for another year.

Such homegrown Ma/Pa operations like Mitch’s, Cardiff Surf Co., Witt’s Carlsbad Pipelines, Encinitas, and Bing Surfboards all provide American hand-crafted surfboards along with local knowledge unavailable at “Kook R Us”, or “Hodad Mart.”

Two stores owned and operated by surfers, but not exclusively for surfers are firmly planted in Leucadia on Coast Highway. While they both display their own unique styles, “Bamboo 2 U” and “Seaweed & Gravel” have vibes that are nearly extinct in Southern California. Here, you won’t find sales staff with nametags in perma-pressed uniforms, but real people whose life and work intersect daily in the name of art and joy.

As might be expected, Bamboo 2 U features stylish bamboo furniture sets. Less expected, however, are their California classic deck and lifeguard chairs, Polynesian paintings, lamps, ocean-themed cups, saucers and plates, welcome signs and hidden stocking stuffing gems that you won’t find by risking being trampled on even the lightest of all Black Fridays.

Directly to the north of Bamboo 2 U is “Caldwell Antiques,” where a fine collection of Aloha shirts previews the adventure of ancient treasures. Perhaps the greatest selection of used Aloha shirts in North County, however, can be found a few miles up the road at “Thrifty Threads.”

Oh, yeah. I was on my way to Seaweed & Gravel when I was rudely interrupted by… Uh, never mind.

Located dead center in Leucadia on Coast Highway a skipped stone south of the Leucadia post office, the first thing you notice is about S&G is their collection of pristine, collectible motorcycles lined up out front. Once inside there is a small selection of beautiful local surfboards, vinyl records, shirts, beanies and Surfer Magazines printed many waves ago.

Like a symphony of good style, the music pairs perfectly with the décor. Like I do each time I visit there, I expect you will find Seaweed & Gravel an enjoyable, peaceful, enriching journey into surf culture’s rich past.

The above are two worthwhile shopping destinations. There are more for you to discover, but they won’t exist for our children if we don’t buy gifts there. Keep the holiday madness at away and in so doing help fulfill the words of J.P. St Pierre who once printed bumper stickers urging, “Keep Leucadia Funky.”