Surf shop makes mark na­tion­ally

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Ask Chris Brown whether he’d rather be pad­dle­board­ing or dressed to the nines at some swanky din­ner, and his re­sponse comes eas­ily.

But Brown and wife Kate had to don the gladrags for the na­tional Re­tail NZ Top­Shop Awards in Auck­land on Oc­to­ber 22, be­cause they were rep­re­sent­ing the lower North Is­land.

Their business, Ocean Out­fit­ters, on Mana Es­planade, was judged sec­ond-best in the coun­try be­cause of its top-notch cus­tomer ser­vice, hon­est ad­vice and qual­ity equip­ment.

Though it was an in­dus­try award for re­tail­ers, Brown said it showed Ocean Out­fit­ters must be do­ing some­thing right.

‘‘We had a fair idea who the mys­tery shop­per [the judge] was, but we didn’t pour it on,’’ he said.

‘‘My phi­los­o­phy is that we treat peo­ple who come into the store or who take lessons how we would want to be treated our­selves. It’s quite sim­ple.’’

Stand-up pad­dle­board­ing has taken off in re­cent years and Ocean Out­fit­ters is sit­u­ated per­fectly to cash in.

The calm of Pau­ata­hanui In­let is con­trasted by the wind and waves on Porirua Har­bour, off Ngati­toa Do­main and in the open sea, and Brown and his em­ploy­ees can cater for what­ever level board­ers are at.

He and Kate ran the business on­line un­til two years ago, when they de­cided to take the leap and open the shop. They had no re­tail ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore open­ing Ocean Out­fit­ters, Brown said.

They do not get huge amounts of foot traf­fic, but hav­ing a shopfront was still prov­ing a fil­lip for them, he said.

‘‘We still send stuff all over the coun­try, but we also wanted this [ store] to be a des­ti­na­tion for peo­ple. We can run our demon­stra­tion days, clin­ics, races and events out of the store be­cause peo­ple like to have a bricks and mor­tar place to come to.

‘‘With the bays around the In­let and Ti­tahi Bay for the surf so close by, this is the most amaz­ing place for us to be.’’

Brown, who lives with his fam­ily in Pare­mata, has roots in surf­ing and wind­surf­ing, but has fallen in love with stand-up pad­dle­board­ing.

The Mana Stand-Up Pad­dle­board­ing Club, which he founded, is the first of its kind in New Zealand.

The Satur­day women’s group and school groups are ex­am­ples of the Brown’s de­sire for the sport to be as ac­ces­si­ble as pos­si­ble to the wider com­mu­nity.

‘‘The mag­i­cal thing about pad­dle­board­ing is you feel like you’re walk­ing on wa­ter,’’ Brown said. ‘‘To see the looks on peo­ple’s faces when they get into it for the first time is why I do this. You get a clear head out on the wa­ter, it’s great for your fit­ness and it’s fun.’’

All the gear for surf­ing and stand-up pad­dle­board­ing is qual­ity equip­ment from over­seas and Brown said he was choosy about what he im­ported.

Peo­ple could rent gear at Ocean Out­fit­ters and a ground- en­try board would cost about $1200, he said.

Photo: KRIS DANDO

Win­ning for­mula: Chris Brown, co-owner of Mana business Ocean Out­fit­ters.

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