That surf shop smell. Wax, neoprene. It's a distinctive scent, to be sure. And for more than sixty years, a humble two-story building in Holmes Beach, FL has housed the aroma, while cultivating the tight-knit surf community on West Florida's Anna Maria Island. And just a few days ago, the smell of fresh paint joined a cool, mid-winter breeze as West Coast Surf Shop—the Sunshine State's oldest continuously operating surf shop—reopened its doors for a soft launch, approximately eight months after an electrical fire ravaged the beloved establishment.
"It was pretty tough,” shop owner Jim Brady told the Bradenton Herald with the shop's reopening imminent. “We thought it was destroyed but fortunately, the Holmes Beach Police Department got here fast and got all the customers out. It didn't burn long but did a sizable amount of damage.” Brady opened WCSS in 1964 at the age of 16, and over the course of more than a half-century has played a major role in stoking out the Gulf Coast enclave’s surf culture. The fire imperiled the Sunshine State surf institution’s future—the Brady family's livelihood—and left the shop's employees out of work.
But, soon, with the doors once again open, thanks in small part to an outpouring of community support through a GoFundMe page, a new era will dawn for WCSS. Here's to another 60-plus years of stoke for the surfers on Florida’s left coast.