Sunrise has been a staple in east coast surfing (and beyond) for nearly half a century now. Besides boasting one of the strongest surf team rosters on the globe, the shop also is called home to a slew of annual film premieres and events + has some of the raddest employees—many of who ride for the shop when they’re not helping customers find their size in signature shop tees or the perfect board and gear for an upcoming trip.
In the aftermath of of Hurricane Matthew sweeping through the town, we caught up with Keri Peterson—the store’s manager and resident historian—to talk shop, find out what kind of magical ingredient they’re slipping into their employee’s smoothies, and get an update how they fared the recent storm.
Sunrise has a long and storied history at the Beaches. How many years have you guys been in business and is there any one year in particular that’s notably more memorable than the others?
Sunrise was established in 1976—so about 40 years. Dan Brooks, the current owner, has owned the shop since 1983. There have been many memorable years but I would say that this one we are experiencing is at the top. The scare with Matthew, thinking the store could be gone completely, to the elation and happiness of being open two days later serving our customers as usual? It has been a pretty surreal week to, say the least.
With the help of a semi-gigantic parking lot, you guys have hosted a wealth of video premieres and surf events for the community to drive/bike ride over to and enjoy. What’s been your favorite one up until now, and do you have any loaded in the chamber for this upcoming year?
Well if you ask Dan, he is going to mention the Blood Shot Tour with Christian Fletcher, Christian Hosoi, Nathan Fletcher, Sergie Ventura and a bunch of other surf/skate legends. They set up a half pipe in the parking lot and the band jammed while all the skaters where skating the ramp. That was in the late 80s and was all-time.
The other one that has to be mentioned is the premiere of JJF’s movie, View From a Blue Moon. We packed the whole parking lot out with a massive movie screen blown up in front of the shop. We had a food truck, vendor tents everywhere—it was quite a scene.
The shop’s surf team has been an international threat in the Oakley Surf Shop Challenge for I don’t even know how long… seems like they bring something back every year. How many shop series championships have you guys actually won, and who is your longest-sponsored team rider?
We have won somewhere between 7 and 9 regional championships, if you go back to when Quiksilver still sponsored it right before Oakley picked it up. As far as international wins, we have taken that one four times. Twice in California, once in Bali and once in Nicaragua. Asher Nolan is our main OG team rider and had a lot to do with the majority of those wins, to say the least.
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What would you say is the most frequently bought item/accessory in the store? Boards? Watches? Bulk amounts of sunscreen?
That one is easy. Would have to say that our Sunrise t-shirts are probably our most frequently bought product. Obviously, that puts a smile on our face.
I think anyone that has spent time perusing through the shop has taken note of how top notch the customer service is. What’s the secret to keeping everyone in utopian-esque, good spirits? Team building surf sessions? Angie’s lunches?
Utopian-esque good spirits, eh? I like that one. I would like to think we are all in good moods as much as we can be. Retail can be tough and although this sounds like such a cheesy, cookie-cutter cliche answer…. a lot of it revolves around the customers we deal with. We are very blessed to have a lot of really nice, genuine, fun people as customers and I think that rubs off on our staff and vice versa. We definitely try to hire people that seem like they will fit in and have a good time, while working hard at the same time.
Last one. Hurricane Matthew just swept through and hit a large portion of the coast that surfers sporting Sunrise stickers call home. Homes are gone, the pier’s been severed, there’s even word of a new inlet that formed south of St. Augustine—lots of change has come from this storm. What was your outlook on the storm as it approached, how did you guys fair and what’s the game plan moving forward?
We were very cautious and aware of the destruction that Matthew could have brought to our beaches. There is no doubt that we all got lucky and dodged a bullet with this one. Things could have been a lot more severe and although the store did get a new facelift courtesy of Matthew, overall we fared well. What has been astonishing to us is the outpouring of love and support that we have received from the community since this happened. It has been amazing to see all the people come out and offer there help in any way they can and we were truly touched by that.
The store was open two days later and we were definitely a little busier then a normal, so once again that shows how amazing our customers and this community are. They took the time out of their days dealing with cleanups and what not, to come support the shop. That truly made us all feel very appreciative and gracious that Jacksonville Beach. The community made it through this and is only going to come out stronger. Thanks everybody!