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Oceanside replaces Huntington Beach

But "Surf City" not without detractors

The Tremont Street Collective, set to open in September.
The Tremont Street Collective, set to open in September.

The surf industry is dropping in on Oceanside.

The city that once billed itself as "California's best kept secret" may now be better suited for the "Surf City" handle long used by Huntington Beach. Because of its some 50 independent shaping and glassing shops, Oceanside produces more hand-crafted boards than any other West Coast city.

JS of Australia-based JS Surfboards

And when a new commercial center opens next month, seven surf-culture shops will anchor a once run-down business district near the corner of Tremont Street and Wisconsin Avenue.

The sleek new Tremont Street Collective, set to open in September, was remodeled from three auto repair shops. It will be the home of a new retail shop for the Oceanside-based Brixton clothing line, the North County offshoot of Little Italy's Atacama Surf Shop, and the headquarters of the internet surf publication Stab Mag which is relocating to Oceanside from Los Angeles. Those companies join eyewear manufacturer Madson of America on Tremont Street.

Online surf magazine editor Ashton Goggans (in yellow beanie) going after Beach Grit's Chas Smith (long hair).

Just around the corner are the already up-and-running sunscreen maker Surface, the West Coast outlet for Australia's JS Surfboards, and lowkey shaper/surfer Gary Linden, who has been making boards and riding waves in that neighborhood since the 70s.

But just as surfers in the water can get territorial, locals can get testy when outsiders invade their favorite spots.

"Fuck those guys and fuck them for coming to Oceanside," says Chas Smith, the Cardiff-based co-owner of Beach Grit (beachgrit.com) the irreverent online surfing magazine about competitor Stab Magazine (stabmag.com). "They moved from Bondi Beach [Australia] to be near Venice [Beach] when Venice was the cool new spot for a minute. Now they are moving to Oceanside because they smell that Oceanside is the hip new place. They are perpetually pursuing the community that is coming up next. They're just chasing the zeitgeist."

Stab is a more conventional surf publication following the more upbeat, straight-ahead style of the defunct Surfer and Surfing print magazines. Beach Grit loves controversy and taking on sacred cows like surf icon Kelly Slater and the World Surf League. Smith says he and his Australian-based Beach Grit partner, Derek Rielly, would never refrain from lampooning somebody out of fear of alienating an advertiser.

Smith vows that Beach Grit will always speak the unvarnished truth. Like for instance, how Oceanside can forget about the promised wave park in the San Luis Rey Valley near the Oceanside airport.

"That is absurd," says Smith. "It will never be built in Oceanside. I can't fathom that an investment group would want to build a wave park when there are real waves all over the place.'

Smith says Oceansiders must rally in support of small local surf shops like Real Surf and Asylum instead of interlopers JS Surfboards. And he says gentrification is now Oceanside's biggest enemy. "Go after Encinitas or Carlsbad, but leave Oceanside alone. It seems like Oceanside is just getting crushed right now with all these incoming genties."

And just like turf wars in the water can get physical, the beef between surf magazine publishers can get downright violent.

Beach Grit ran a photo that Smith says shows then Stab editor Ashton Goggans coming after him two years ago. "After that he and his wife started screaming how I wrecked their life."

And then about three months ago, Smith says the open aggression resurfaced again at an Oceanside coffee house.

"My wife's friend was releasing a book about healing trauma. She had a book signing party at a place called The Rising Co. There was hippy music and people dancing out their bad vibes and sage burning and people selling crystals. And then out of nowhere Ashton's wife shows up and she comes over and yelled at me saying 'Fuck you, fuck you.' "

Beach Grit's Smith credits competitor Stab with staging "fantastic productions" like its Stab In the Dark contest that draws shapers from all over the world. But he says Stab, "is always bending over for advertisers, perpetually apologizing when it steps on an advertisers' toes. They always want to be eating at the cool kids' table, so they are always stroking the pro surfers or the cool shapers or whoever they perceive as cool at the moment. Beach Grit on the other hand is only ever about the grimy, gritty dude who works all day and barely has time to surf and then clicks on Beach Grit to get a laugh."

Request for comments to Stab Magazine's Ashton Goggans and other Stab staffers were not returned. According to similarweb.com, between January and June, Stab had 458,000 visitors, while Beach Grit had 1.7 million.

The fact that both Stab and Beach Grit will both be homebased in North County harkens back to an earlier era when North San Diego County was home to action sports print giant Transworld Media (Transworld Surf, Transworld Skateboarding, Transworld Snowboarding) which was founded in Oceanside but then moved to Carlsbad. In the early 80s Oceanside-based Breakout Magazine went up against Surfer and Surfing.

When JS Surfboards opened in Oceanside last year, posters and stickers started popping up around its new 6,000-square-foot warehouse/retail shop in Oceanside dissing the new outlet and its imported boards.

Oceanside born-and-raised Guy Trotter owns and operates Surface sunscreen which is one block west of JS Surfboards. He says it's the marketplace that will ultimately decide if outside surf companies can make it in Oceanside. "I am still perplexed as to why some of the locals saw them as a threat. If JS is to compete with [local surf shops] Asylum, Real Surf, and Surfride, it's on them to be successful. It's every business for itself. But I guess localism doesn't go away."

Trotter says the word has gotten out that his Wisconsin Street hood has become the new surf-centric business hub. "I know of a towel company and a clothing company who have started asking about available space so they can move here too." He recalls that pro skater Tony Alva, one of the pioneering Dogtown/Z-Boys skaters, was actually one the first to bring an action sports shop to the area when he opened his own skate shop on Wisconsin Street in the 90s.

Trotter says that the days when his hometown was called "Oceancrime" or "Oceanslime" are gone, but that Oceanside will always have soul. "Oceanside's grittiness will never go away. This has always been a blue-collar town. I don't think it will ever have that vacation town feel of a Newport Beach or even Carlsbad."

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The Tremont Street Collective, set to open in September.
The Tremont Street Collective, set to open in September.

The surf industry is dropping in on Oceanside.

The city that once billed itself as "California's best kept secret" may now be better suited for the "Surf City" handle long used by Huntington Beach. Because of its some 50 independent shaping and glassing shops, Oceanside produces more hand-crafted boards than any other West Coast city.

JS of Australia-based JS Surfboards

And when a new commercial center opens next month, seven surf-culture shops will anchor a once run-down business district near the corner of Tremont Street and Wisconsin Avenue.

The sleek new Tremont Street Collective, set to open in September, was remodeled from three auto repair shops. It will be the home of a new retail shop for the Oceanside-based Brixton clothing line, the North County offshoot of Little Italy's Atacama Surf Shop, and the headquarters of the internet surf publication Stab Mag which is relocating to Oceanside from Los Angeles. Those companies join eyewear manufacturer Madson of America on Tremont Street.

Online surf magazine editor Ashton Goggans (in yellow beanie) going after Beach Grit's Chas Smith (long hair).

Just around the corner are the already up-and-running sunscreen maker Surface, the West Coast outlet for Australia's JS Surfboards, and lowkey shaper/surfer Gary Linden, who has been making boards and riding waves in that neighborhood since the 70s.

But just as surfers in the water can get territorial, locals can get testy when outsiders invade their favorite spots.

"Fuck those guys and fuck them for coming to Oceanside," says Chas Smith, the Cardiff-based co-owner of Beach Grit (beachgrit.com) the irreverent online surfing magazine about competitor Stab Magazine (stabmag.com). "They moved from Bondi Beach [Australia] to be near Venice [Beach] when Venice was the cool new spot for a minute. Now they are moving to Oceanside because they smell that Oceanside is the hip new place. They are perpetually pursuing the community that is coming up next. They're just chasing the zeitgeist."

Stab is a more conventional surf publication following the more upbeat, straight-ahead style of the defunct Surfer and Surfing print magazines. Beach Grit loves controversy and taking on sacred cows like surf icon Kelly Slater and the World Surf League. Smith says he and his Australian-based Beach Grit partner, Derek Rielly, would never refrain from lampooning somebody out of fear of alienating an advertiser.

Smith vows that Beach Grit will always speak the unvarnished truth. Like for instance, how Oceanside can forget about the promised wave park in the San Luis Rey Valley near the Oceanside airport.

"That is absurd," says Smith. "It will never be built in Oceanside. I can't fathom that an investment group would want to build a wave park when there are real waves all over the place.'

Smith says Oceansiders must rally in support of small local surf shops like Real Surf and Asylum instead of interlopers JS Surfboards. And he says gentrification is now Oceanside's biggest enemy. "Go after Encinitas or Carlsbad, but leave Oceanside alone. It seems like Oceanside is just getting crushed right now with all these incoming genties."

And just like turf wars in the water can get physical, the beef between surf magazine publishers can get downright violent.

Beach Grit ran a photo that Smith says shows then Stab editor Ashton Goggans coming after him two years ago. "After that he and his wife started screaming how I wrecked their life."

And then about three months ago, Smith says the open aggression resurfaced again at an Oceanside coffee house.

"My wife's friend was releasing a book about healing trauma. She had a book signing party at a place called The Rising Co. There was hippy music and people dancing out their bad vibes and sage burning and people selling crystals. And then out of nowhere Ashton's wife shows up and she comes over and yelled at me saying 'Fuck you, fuck you.' "

Beach Grit's Smith credits competitor Stab with staging "fantastic productions" like its Stab In the Dark contest that draws shapers from all over the world. But he says Stab, "is always bending over for advertisers, perpetually apologizing when it steps on an advertisers' toes. They always want to be eating at the cool kids' table, so they are always stroking the pro surfers or the cool shapers or whoever they perceive as cool at the moment. Beach Grit on the other hand is only ever about the grimy, gritty dude who works all day and barely has time to surf and then clicks on Beach Grit to get a laugh."

Request for comments to Stab Magazine's Ashton Goggans and other Stab staffers were not returned. According to similarweb.com, between January and June, Stab had 458,000 visitors, while Beach Grit had 1.7 million.

The fact that both Stab and Beach Grit will both be homebased in North County harkens back to an earlier era when North San Diego County was home to action sports print giant Transworld Media (Transworld Surf, Transworld Skateboarding, Transworld Snowboarding) which was founded in Oceanside but then moved to Carlsbad. In the early 80s Oceanside-based Breakout Magazine went up against Surfer and Surfing.

When JS Surfboards opened in Oceanside last year, posters and stickers started popping up around its new 6,000-square-foot warehouse/retail shop in Oceanside dissing the new outlet and its imported boards.

Oceanside born-and-raised Guy Trotter owns and operates Surface sunscreen which is one block west of JS Surfboards. He says it's the marketplace that will ultimately decide if outside surf companies can make it in Oceanside. "I am still perplexed as to why some of the locals saw them as a threat. If JS is to compete with [local surf shops] Asylum, Real Surf, and Surfride, it's on them to be successful. It's every business for itself. But I guess localism doesn't go away."

Trotter says the word has gotten out that his Wisconsin Street hood has become the new surf-centric business hub. "I know of a towel company and a clothing company who have started asking about available space so they can move here too." He recalls that pro skater Tony Alva, one of the pioneering Dogtown/Z-Boys skaters, was actually one the first to bring an action sports shop to the area when he opened his own skate shop on Wisconsin Street in the 90s.

Trotter says that the days when his hometown was called "Oceancrime" or "Oceanslime" are gone, but that Oceanside will always have soul. "Oceanside's grittiness will never go away. This has always been a blue-collar town. I don't think it will ever have that vacation town feel of a Newport Beach or even Carlsbad."

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HB should be renamed Deranged MAGAtown.

Aug. 8, 2021

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