Additions: While the below, written pre pandemic, holds true, I also made some changes to the way I run the shop during the miserable pandemic. I believe it is my responsibility to not provide an environment where people will mix and Covid may be passed on. Therefore, I will not open the shop fully. Customers who want something are welcome to ask to venture into the main shop area but, to keep numbers down, I will not be allowing casual browsing beyond the (well aired) front of the shop. I am also no longer buying stock that I consider 'tourist junk' or encouraging 'impulse sales'. I am sticking with products that I am confident will do the job well and will either last a long time and/or have been made with environmental awareness. I want to sell products to people who actually need them.
West Coast Surf Shop has been in the current shop since 1995. We produced our first basic website shortly after. Our Surf School started as a Windsurf School on Abersoch Beach but as demand changed, in the late '90's, we began to specialise in Surf Instruction. The shop space allows us to display a lot of surfboards and wetsuits and we have also flirted with surf branded clothing. Our current relationship with Patagonia has allowed us to stock some very technical mountain outerwear while feeling comfortable with their ethical outlook. The desire for money has never driven the shop and after 27 years I am happy that I shut a little early and opened late (many times) to go for a surf rather than chase another sale. (Contact details are on the door if you arrive and we are not open!).
Environmental/Ethical /Sustainability/Respect statement.
We realise that West Coast Surf Shop, our suppliers and our end users are never likely to be great for the planet. Surfers and the surfing industry are always going to struggle to be carbon neutral, wasteless or more generally green due to the materials used in surfboard and wetsuit production and the huge distances these products are shipped to the end market. Add to that the fuel used to transport us surfers to the waves and the idea of surfing being 'green' is laughable. It is for that reason that we do not sign up to any formal environmental doctrine. There are, however, many things we can do to mitigate the impact we have. Buying a good wetsuit that will last a few years, limiting the number of flights we take, living by the ocean or sharing a lift to the beach and making sure we leave the beach with no evidence that we have even been there are just some examples.
Being aware of our surroundings and not doing anything that causes too much harm has been part of all decisions made at West Coast Surf Shop since we opened. I am a vehement believer in the ‘Take only pictures, leave only footprints’ mentality and consider that it is important to avoid doing anything that interferes negatively with anyone else's enjoyment and the wildlife and nature of a place. This includes, on a local level - my despair at those that habitually drop litter or dog crap and on a business level - the checking of environmental and ethical credentials of our suppliers and products.
We recycle as much waste in house as we can and beyond that as much as our local council allow us, we leave some lighting off during quiet months, keep old vans running well (rather than buying new vehicles) and sparingly reuse any polythene bags that our suppliers have packed products in.
Sustainability is a much used term but we apply it, sometimes extremely obliquely, to all decisions made. Again it comes down to ‘if I do this, will I be able to continue to do it without harming others or the environment into the future’ – tread lightly.
We are lucky enough to have our business located on the truly amazing Llyn Peninsula in North Wales, we are surrounded by a landscape that, while largely shaped by man over the last 3000 years, manages to maintain an air of the natural about it. Due to the lack of major rivers (being a peninsula) the sea is amazingly clean and often crystal clear. The wind from most points of the compass drags in clean sea air and the surrounding cool sea often means low convection and sunny skies. We appreciate the freedoms afforded to us which allow us to immerse ourselves daily into such a special place. We can walk, swim, surf, cycle, view and breath in the landscape that surrounds us and this reminds us daily to look after it.
Act Locally, Think Globally. We also work to support the local community and economy by providing employment, buying local produce, using local services, and protecting the local environment.
We like to:
Minimise waste and avoid causing pollution
Reduce energy consumption – we fit energy efficient lightbulbs and avoid heating the shop (I am sure you have all seen me wrapped up against the cold!).
Avoid, as far as possible, disturbing wildlife and encourage others to do the same.
Maximise the stock levels in the shop that are purchased from leading ethical brands such as Patagonia and Teko.
To stock products that have a long lifetime and help customers live sustainably.
Encourage customers, suppliers and staff to become more environmentally aware.
To sum up, Respect is a word that works for me. Respect for the environment, other people, flaura and fauna and ultimately those generations that, hopefully, will follow us.
West Coast Surf Shop