In the Rockaways, surf and small business
Bobby Vaughn is the owner of FTW surf shop.
By Shayndi Raice
Special to amNewYork
Most people dont think of New York City as a hot spot for surfing.
But since the city legalized the sport at two beaches in the Rockaways in 2004, the area has increasingly become a surfers haven. And local shops that cater to surfers are finding the recession is actually boosting business.
After all, why travel to Malibu when waves await at the end of the A line?
One of my friends described us as recession-proof, said Steve Stathis, 59, owner of Boarders Surf Shop near Beach 90 in Rockaway Beach. People can still enjoy reasonably priced leisure activities. Just for a day out, you can come down here and rent a surfboard for $25 for four hours.Stathis said that at the end of the winter, his business was down 40 percent. But that didnt deter him from ordering the usual amount of merchandise for the summer, including more surfboards to rent.
His calculation was simple: Surfing locally would become a cheap and popular option in recessionary times. We think we hit the nail on the head, he said. Were seeing people in here that weve never seen before.
Business this summer was slow in June, but is now on pace with past summers, Stathis said.
Bobby Vaughn, 34, said his business has benefited from city surfers sticking closer to home. In April, he opened up a surf shop, FTW, which sells higher-end gear. He does not rent equipment and his surfboards start at about $600 apiece.
He said that so far business is brisk.
People cant afford to go to other places, he said. A lot more people are staying local.
Surfers at the beach last week shared those sentiments.
Here, beaches are free. You only have to a buy a board once and you have it for life, said Michael Terriberry, 30, of Maspeth.
Another surfer, Liz Henry, 23, of Brooklyn, was out with friends on a warm day.
I can go as often as I want to go to the beach, Henry said. I cant afford to go somewhere else.