Gulf Report

At On The Beach in South Padre Island, Texas, Owner Gene Bagley says that the surf community is relatively small. “There’s a total of about 100 to 150 surfers, and three surf shops in this area,” he says. Business is naturally more tourist oriented, which in turn makes skateboarding not a strong factor in the area. “Surfers aren’t dressing in skate apparel,” he says.

On The Beach doesn’t carry skate videos; they haven’t seen a need to do so. But to cater to the tourist population, the shop does carry a wide variety of surf lines, with the top-selling T-shirt brand being Quiksilver, says Bagley.

Brian Anderson, owner West Coast Surf Shop in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, is well aware of the increasing demand for skate products among surfers and has expanded his shop’s product mix into that market. But he says his ‘core surf customers aren’t the ones buying clothes from skate brands: “For the most part, surfers are sticking to traditional surf apparel.”

In overall T-shirt sales, Quiksilver is the top brand, with Porn Star close behind. However, Anderson says the skate influence will probably strengthen in the next few months: “Trends in Florida are about one to two years behind California.”

At Mad Beach Surf Shop in St. Petersburg, Florida, Owner Gina Porter tells a different story: “The street look has been popular here for two to three years.”

She says the apparel trends are being heavily influenced by rap music. “The baggy look is in right now,” she adds. However, the shop’s best-selling T-shirt is from HIC, and surf videos are much more popular than their skateboarding counterparts.

Alice Schabe, owner of Underground Surf Depot in Galveston, Texas doesn’t agree that more surfers are buying skate apparel in her area: “They’re dressing like surfers.”

Underground Surf Depot’s top-selling video is always Big Wednesday, says Schabe. She adds that everyone who goes to Galveston Island goes to surf, not to skate. “The most popular T-shirts here are from Rip Curl and Rusty,” she says.

Manager Rob Dill of Water Boyz in Pensacola, Florida says the popularity of surf and skate apparel at his shop is “split down the middle.” He notes that customers are most concerned with the apparel’s design, and that skate shirts do well because they have cool designs. T-shirts such as the ones from Serial Killer are popular with his customers because of their use of humor. Lost is also a top seller in the shop.

Ironically, it’s a motocross video that’s currently tops at Water Boyz: Crusty Demons of Dirt.

¿Rene Pacheco