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Defining the “heart” of surfing always seems to be at the heart of the pursuit. So what is essential, exactly? A shortboard? A particular brand? For me, the heart of surfing is the store. The everyday surfer’s conduit between industry and launching. The surf shop transmits valuable information that we need to surf better. And there’s nothing that defines the staple surf shop like Usedsurf, the largest used board shop on the planet and quite literally an American original. Located in the heart of North San Clemente Los Molinos Surf Manufacturing Center, Usedsurf has been helping surfers find the right bike since 2005 – the first specialist shop for used gear.
Usedsurf was started by Maurice Agnello and Stacy Volkart. It now stands opposite Basham’s Factory (where the store was originally located). Usedsurf and its open garage door, framed by a black painted wall, has earned a place on this legendary street at the center of San Clemente’s surf culture.
I met Maurice when Usedsurf had just taken off. He patiently helped me get my first custom board made after hemming and chopping the used rack which was a virtual assortment of surf shapes – none, unfortunately for me. The industry veteran who had already spent years as a shaper, glass and airbrush, knew that. He guided me well.
Usedsurf is a much more welcoming environment than the usual teen-run outlets. “Our mission,” says Stacy, “is to help educate people so they can make the best decisions. If we don’t have what they want, we’ll tell them at the store to pick it up and allow them to make the best decision.
“Like many family-owned shops,” adds Maurice, “Usedsurf is only good for its employees. We hire active surfers. learn about the boards that come into the store specifically so they can listen and understand what the customer needs.
Stacy and Maurice both have long histories in the surfing world, Stacy as a semi-professional longboarder and Maurice as a craftsman, glazier and airbrusher for legends like Stewart,…Lost, Timmy Patterson and Cole. Maurice eventually became a shaper himself, creating his own label, EDIT (you’ve probably seen them in the water between Huntington and San Diego). He wanted a shop of his own. He and Stacy met in 2004 and came up with the brainchild of Usedsurf because they saw a niche in the industry.
“We knew the internet could change everything,” says Maurice.
“We had garage sales in my front yard, and we did pretty well at them, until we got shut down by the city,” laughs Stacy.
Instead of garage sales, the business partners rented space in Basham. But as their little idea grew, the duo needed their own space. And this space appeared across the street.
Renting a space no bigger than a bedroom, Usedsurf set up shop in a friend’s warehouse, selling used boards and working with the same clientele that had become so loyal over the years. And the shop gradually grew with Stacy as the business manager and Maurice as the ideator. They went from renting a bedroom-sized space to a legit store with a showroom, using unique ideas to carve out a bigger niche.
One of these ideas was that of Usedsurf Demonstration Center End. Fins obviously make a huge difference in the performance of a board. But no one wants to drop $100 on fins that don’t work for them. Stacy and Maurice contacted every possible fin maker with the idea of a demo. Now you can rent a set of fins from Usedsurf to try before you buy. “We have the largest fin demo program in existence with over 200 different fin sets for you to test out as well as an online program to try out fins for 30 days through our Buy, try and decide program,” says Maurice. And yes, your rental price goes towards the purchase.
They also offer consignment of your used clubs, as well as a “Array Searchprogram where you can give them the dimensions of a board you’re looking for and the staff will keep an eye out to see if the right shape fits your wish list. Without forgetting that they have created two specific board labels for Usedsurf: the cherry bomb, a range of high performance hybrid, groveler and twin-fin surfboards. And the Gap, a brand that offers a variety of mid-length fish, funboards and quads.
Usedsurf of course sells wetsuits, bags (and rents them out if you don’t want to buy), leashes, and continues to expand its used fleet. They’ve created a rental selection that even includes high-end performance models like Channel Islands and Firewire. Usedsurf’s mission remains focused on helping people find boards that help them ride the waves better – “The best place to fuel your energy,” says Stacy. It will always be at the heart of who they are and what they think the “heart” of surfing should be.
To browse Usedsurf’s vast inventory of surfboards and surfing essentials, Click here.