Next month will mark the four-year anniversary of a small journey my husband, David Horsfall, and I started in 2014. Alki Surf Shop began as an online store that became a brick and mortar reality once we were able to locate retail space on Alki (pronounced ALK-eye) Beach. Retail spaces are rare, and it was through a chance conversation that we learned of an imminent storefront space opening up. Tucked around the corner from Homefront, the most popular ice cream store on the beach, it’s not the easiest place to find, but people find us, and somehow we’ve become a destination of sorts. We’ve cultivated a loyal base of customers—many of whom have become our friends. Our fans and supporters want us to succeed, and they bring in friends and family whenever they have visitors, from everywhere.
It’s been an amazing learning experience, and I can say with certainty we are doing most everything more intelligently than when we started (there is always room for improvement, though). Along the way we have met thousands of people from all around the world and have 4 volumes of guest books to prove it. Packed on every page are drawings, messages of goodwill, and touching expressions of friendship spanning every continent and country, often written in the language of the visitor.
In the store’s nascency, I brought in a Nokia* tablet to use, but eventually we needed full-powered computer and replaced the tablet with a 21’ iMac. Our music continues to be piped out onto the sidewalk with a UE Boom* that it has been in use nearly every day for the past 3 and a half years and is still going strong! We have a WeMo* camera for security, and our Verizon service has even rescued us when our credit card terminal service was down by enabling us to use Square to process transactions. This is all to say, for a very low tech-looking, laid-back beach store, we depend on technology to keep the wheels turning each day.
It’s gratifying that beside that fact that we offer a valuable service, our business provides so much joy to our visitors. Most people enjoy the friendly vibe where we take time to learn where people are from and what brings them to Alki. Each day we have customers hug us as they’re leaving. How many businesses can say that? And many exchange a conspiratorial wink with us when they introduce new people to our store. They whisper, “Are you going to do the ‘horn,’” which is actually the blowing of a conch shell and shouting of “mahalo” as customers depart.
We’re in the midst of our busy summer season and look forward to some fun upcoming 2018 events:
- Seafair Pirates land on Alki Beach — July 7
- Alki Pride Day — July 21 (Alki Surf Shop is a sponsor!)
- SubPop Records Celebrates its 30th Anniversary on Alki Beach August 11
Beside the special events above, on an everyday basis there are things happening — Saturday salsa dancing, volleyball tournaments, beach parties at the fire pits, paddle boarding, bicycle rentals, and happy people everywhere.
Looking out at the view from our store and seeing the Olympic mountains and Puget Sound, we are reminded that life is better on a beach.
We’re grateful to our real-life and social media friends from Twitter and IG who have visited Alki Surf Shop. If you’ve visited the store please let me know so I can add your moniker here!
@queenhorsfall @jackandpele @muz4now @lorimcneeartist @jenniferannegood @nixkuroi @felicelam @blueweed_songs @becauseuarehere @savvyangie @kurt.nac @Joe996s @sheelala @lemness @wasian206 @dougplummer @michipeterson @lindacriddle @kennapete @lindafreeman_ @jshuey @thidekow @ryankanemagic @vickiehorsfall @freshprinceofmi @crimsonlotustea @x2tap @jrome2032 @hollymariephotos @slydehandboards @feliciakayne @artistpoint @mikedadams206 @horsfallscott @georgesta3000 @PutBarber @lupdesign @lindabrill
More about Terri:
Visit her store Alki Surf Shop
Terri Nakamura Design
Terri Nakamura on Twitter
Alki Surf Shop on Twitter
The Horsfall House on AirBNB
More by Terri Nakamura
*Verizon generously provided us with technology used at our store.