Behind The Counter: Jim Brady

Photography by Lori Sax By Beau Denton August 31, 2012

Jim Brady, Owner; West Coast Surf Shop (Lori Sax)

When did you start the store?

1964. I was 16 and in Manatee High School. I liked surfing, and this seemed like the right thing to do. My father had saved about $1,500 and said go for it. We started on Holmes Beach with six to 10 surfboards in a 500-square-foot store.

How has the business changed?

Clothing’s become a major part—surf brands like Billabong, Quicksilver and Rip Curl. Now we sell paddleboards, skimboards and skateboards, too. Paddleboarding’s great because it’s like surfing, but it’s easier on you, so it’s bringing a lot of the older customers back in.

Does the beach location affect the store’s atmosphere?

Being right on the public beach is like being in the mall. You get a lot of traffic. And we cater to people walking right in from the beach. You can come in here barefoot, with a wet swimsuit and no T-shirt.

Do you close for the big storms?

We never close for a hurricane unless they close the island [Anna Maria]. Surfers flock to the rough water, and when the weather gets bad, tourists tend to shop more. We were busy when [Tropical Storm] Debby came through.

What makes for a good day?

You do the amount of money you think you should and you don’t lose anything. It’s a little harder to stay in business in this economy. It used to be I didn’t even think about it, maybe because I was so young, but now we find ourselves thinking, “Is tomorrow going to be as good?” So far we’ve been lucky.

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