At a beachy, three-decades-old boutique on West Park Avenue in Long Beach, two types of items are in high demand: Long Beach-branded merchandise and surfboards.
"People come from Connecticut, Jersey, Montauk, everywhere just for the surfboards," says Luke Hamlet, 62, who's owned Long Beach Surf Shop since his family opened its doors in 1984 when he was in his late 20s. Now, he runs the shop with the help of his two children, Luke, 30 and Emma Hamlet, 27. "We're a big surf shop family," he says.
Long Beach Surf Shop has gained its reputation for being a go-to spot for hardgoods due to its variety of inventory. Hamlet says his shop has as many as 350 surfboards in stock for shoppers, whereas niche shops may typically have between 20 and 30 boards from which to choose. "It's less of a sporting good item and more of a crafted item," he says. "Someone actually hand-makes our boards, from California to Florida or Australia. It's more something that's nice to look at that's functional for how and where you ride." The shop features boards for a range of surfing needs and abilities, from beginners to pros. Boards are priced between $300 and $1,500.
After being closed for nearly three months due to the coronavirus, Hamlet says business ramped up almost immediately when it reopened for in-store shopping in June. "I thought it would slow down a bit. I said when we'd open up again we'd close on Sundays, to not be slaves to the business since my family works with me, but now, of course, we're right back into it."
While its doors were temporarily shuttered, Hamlet and his children relaunched the shop's website to include, for the first time, online shopping for everything from boards to gear and clothing. Still, "the hardgoods part of it seems to be the busiest part of it. There are a lot of people needing surfboards," he says.
As for the branded Long Beach merch, which ranges from logo tees and hats to swim trunks and hoodies, Hamlet says those from the area are proud to rep their hometown.
"It's true!" Hamlet says of the area where he grew up and still resides. "It's a little beach town, but it's close to the city; it's on Long Island but it's different from Long Island; it's a nice mix of people and cultures and still beachy." The shop sells its own printed LB Surf and Long Beach products, most $10 to $50.
Shop in-store at 70 W. Park Ave., Mondays through Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., or online at longbeachsurf.com.