UPDATE: Island Surf is officially closed.
It appears that Island Surf has seen its last days. Owner Manny Granillo seemed pensive when I spoke with him on Friday as he was selling the last of his stock and answering the inevitable questions from customers who were coming in.
“I just heard,” one man said. He was looking for stickers or hats that said “Island Surf” on them. Manny was nearly out. It seems that a lot of customers want to keep at least a little bit of Island Surf with them. “What’s going to go into this place?” the man asked. Manny said he didn’t know. Another customer suggested maybe it would be another nail place; someone else said maybe t-shirts. Both customers hinted at what many on local social media groups have openly feared – that the block of stores on Orange Avenue and around the corners of 10th St. and C Avenue (known as the Coronado Assemblage) would turn more toward catering to high end tourists than to locals after the sale to Kleege Enterprises.
Manny said that he was tired. Tired of not knowing what the future was going to hold, tired of being asked the same questions by customers over the last few weeks. He said he wasn’t ready for a party – not yet – or even to give me a formal statement on the closing of the store. Maybe in a month or so. All he would say is that, “It’s been a long ride.”
In 1972, Coronado resident, Bob Duryea, opened Du-Ray’s Surf Shop. In 1977, Manny came to work for Duryea as a surfing 15 year old. Long story short, Manny came back to buy the store when Duryea was ready to retire about 20 years later.
What has made Island Surf special in Coronado is not just that it was a pioneer surf and board shop, but also the extent to which it has integrated into the community. CBS 8 in 2014 referred to Island Surf as “the beach community’s unofficial city hall.” And, a previous article in The Coronado Times suggested that Manny really grew up in the surf shop, under the wing of Duryea and others. This seems to have had a lasting impact. At that time, he said: “One of the greatest feelings in my heart is for the kids who have worked for me over the years. I too have seen them grow up to become doctors, lawyers, Navy fighter pilots and officers, school teachers, SEAL team members … All you can do is try and be the best role model you can to the kids around you … It’s a birthright of the store, but I take great pride in the accomplishments of these kids. That’s the legacy of Island Surf, and one I’m proud to have inherited.”
Stan Searfus, President of the Coronado Surfing Association, said, “I’m very sorry that Island Surf is going away… they were offering lots of good things to the surfing community.” He noted – as many local business owners have mentioned to me over the last couple of weeks – that the internet economy has really affected local retail. And, that while you could buy your gear online, the types of services that Manny offered, like ding repair and gear rentals need to be done locally.
Emerald City Surf Shop is on the other side of Orange Avenue. It, too, is locally owned, by Larry and Kelly Kraus. It opened in 1988, underwent a massive remodel in 2010, and is larger than Island Surf, so it has a different feel. As one local client said, “Emerald City feels more commercial and less laid back,” and another put it more simply: “It’s a way different place.”
However, if Emerald City does not have the feel of Island Surf, the General Manager, Bryan Guter, assured me that Emerald City can fulfill Coronado’s needs. He said: “We are sorry to see [Island Surf] go… we will continue to try and cover the town’s surf/skate/beach/lifestyle needs. We do rentals, we don’t do repairs.”