Eye On Orange County – Rip Curl Surf Center

Rip Curl Surf Center

San Clemente

Everybody in San Clemente — and San Diego — knows that if you want to get a good deal on a wetsuit you go to the Rip Curl Surf Center.


But about a year go that all changed. That’s when Rip Curl closed the doors of the tired surf shop so it could get a much-needed facelift. But not to disappoint, the brand had its Trestles Surf Outlet just a couple blocks north, and customers could still get their hands on last year’s suits (and other gear) at rock-bottom prices.

Most people would think it would be crazy to open an outlet store just steps from a full-priced retail store — isn’t that cannibalization? But Manager Isaac Kirkpatrick says that’s simply not the case: “The two shops feed off each other. Most people are attracted to the discount center, but we don’t have all the sizes there, so they’ll go to the retail shop.”

But for ten months, however, shoppers have had to make due with what was on hand at the Trestles Surf Outlet. Rip Curl leveled the existing location last fall and begun construction on a slick, 4,500-square-foot building.


The new shop has a distinctly corporate look to it. “It’s modeled exactly like the flagship store in Torquay, Rip Curl International’s headquarters Australia,” says Kirkpatrick. Rip Curl has four shops in Australia, and it also has shops in Europe. Kirkpatrick says the brand eventually plans to beef up its retail presence in the U.S.

What gives Rip Curl Surf Center the edge in San Clemente is its proximity to Lowers. The shop is located just down the street from the trailhead to Trestles, so surfers are always rushing into the store for last-minute surf essentials like leashes and wax. “The location is everything to us,” says Kirkpatrick. “With us being down the street temporarily and further away from Trestles we’ve noticed a huge decrease in foot traffic.”

Because the shop is so close to Lowers, weather and surf plays an even more important role. “I can make my schedule based on the surf report!” jokes Kirkpatrick.

But even with the construction, dismal spring weather, and average surf, business has still been solid. “Considering where we’re at we’re doing good,” says Kirkpatrick. “It’s better than last year.”

Window Brands: n/a
Major Display Brands: n/a
Strongest Category: Wetsuits
Weakest Category: Snowboard equipment
Strongest Brands: Rip Curl, Volcom, Hurley, Quiksilver
Best Rep: Chad Navarro (Rip Curl)

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