Aaron Pai has one goal for his business, Huntington Surf and Sport: To be the best surf shop in the world.
The flagship store sits in the heart of Huntington Beach – aka Surf City – where a big statue of Duke
Kahanamoku, the father of surfing, welcomes passersby as they stroll or drive past Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway.
“It’s all about the sport of surfing, the love of the sport of surfing, and sharing it with all the customers and guests who walk through our doors,” Pai said in a past OC Register story.
The main shop started 34 years ago, and two more locations were added through the years – one smaller shop at Warner and Pacific Coast Highway, and a big store at Bella Terra near the 405 Freeway and Beach Boulevard. Every single family member has worked at the business, and it’s not uncommon to see young up-and-coming surfers pulling double duty and working at one of the retail stores.
You couldn’t ask for better advertising – more than 50,000 cars pass by the shop each year along Coast Highway, with about 15 million people going to the beach each year, according to the Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce. Big surf photos touting the latest product or hottest surfer grace the glass windows.
One unique aspect of the shop is the Surfers’ Hall of Fame hand and foot prints set in stone in front of the flagship shop – where icons and legends such as Kelly Slater and the late Andy Irons have been honored, along with many local heroes who have had an impact on the sport and culture.
Earlier this year, Pai was honored by winning two big awards at the Surf Industry Manufacturing Association Image Awards. He celebrated the Men’s and Women’s Retailer of the Year award by doing two big jumps on stage in front of key industry leaders.
– By LAYLAN CONNELLY , THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER