In just over a month construction workers will be putting the finishing touches on a pair of new East Coast surf shops. Orlando, Florida will welcome the fifth Ron Jon location, and Virginia Beach will open its arms to its new flagship 17th Street Surf Shop. Both are slated to open in May.
The latest entry to the Ron Jon chain is a 15,000-square-foot emporium located in Festival Bay, a super-sized shopping complex on International Drive. The 1,074,800-square-foot Festival Bay has more than 850,000-square feet of retail space, a twenty-screen cinema, and a Vans skatepark.
Like other establishments on I Drive (NASCAR-oriented Race Rock, Hard Rock’s Vault, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, et. al), Ron Jon I-Drive has a theme: beach paradise. Ron Jon has enlisted design firm Raleigh Design to develop a fun, beachy interior; it’s hooked up with architectural firm Cuhaci & Peterson to create the store’s island-themed exterior.
“The store isn’t just four walls with merchandise. It’s a playful representation of the Florida beach lifestyle and its traditions,” says Chris Raleigh, principal of Raleigh Design. “We are storytellers, and there is a rich story to tell here.”
Inside the store, there’s a pier made from aged cypress blanks, a 1934-replica Ford Woody, a 60-foot-long wave mural, and a series of tin-roofed surf huts that serve as display areas for men’s and women’s clothing, surfboards, beach accessories, and souvenirs.
“It’s like walking onto a movie set — there’s a beach, pier, water, sand, and sky,” says Raleigh. “You’re transported to a totally different environment.”
But the beach theme isn’t limited to the inside — the outside was also designed with the islands in mind. Architects at Cuhaci & Peterson included thatched roofs and a lookout tower in the design.
“The new store really showcases the Ron Jon image. It’s an attraction unto itself,” says Bill Bieberbach, Ron Jon corporate development spokesperson. “We’ve recreated everything except the surf, salt sprays, and sea gulls.”
Up the coast in Virginia Beach, the folks at Seventeenth Street are readying for the grand opening their new store. The shop, located on the corner of 17th Street and Pacific Avenue in downtown Va Beach, is constructed of mainly glass and steel and will serve as the chain’s flagship retail outlet.
The custom-designed shop features 30-foot ceilings. Seventeenth Street Owner Tom Brown says the curved metal roof that cascades over the front of the shop has the appearance of a giant wave.
Brown estimates the new location 65-foot by 110-foot location is approximately 700- to 800-square feet smaller than the old shop, but there’s about 500-square feet more in stock-room space. The new flagship store ate up three parking spaces, but that’s no matter to Brown: “It’s absolutely gorgeous,” he says.
The store will open May 1.