Every Surf Town needs a Good Surf Shop
May 3, 2017
The allure of the ocean beckons many individuals at some point in their life. Whether it is the adrenaline packed rides, ever changing conditions and opportunities, or the social aspect, surfing can be addicting for an entire lifetime.
To Nick Krieger, the founder of 2 Mile Shop and current leader of all Bolinas Surf Lesson’s operations, surfing found him at a young age. He grew up in Bolinas California and began surfing at 11. He is now 39 and has been surfing consistently for 28 years.
Drew Reinstein, the current owner of 2 Mile Surf Shop, discovered the joys of surfing later, “I learned to surf when I went to college. So when I was 17 years old in Santa Cruz, and I am 51 now so about 34 years. There was a class actually. A PE class where you could learn to surf and some friends talked me into it.” While college helped Reinstein find surfing, surfing pulled Krieger away from college.
“That was my problem. I would go from Bolinas and I would get to Tam Junction and I would be like, oh I could go to class or I could go to Ocean Beach or Cronkhite. I got a really good grade in ceramics and I took weight training and a swimming course,” Krieger reveals.
Shannon Savage, a nature camp instructor and part-time surf instructor at 2 Mile, found surfing only three years ago in a completely different way than Krieger or Reinstein: “[It was] actually a person, someone that I fell in love with. We are not together anymore, but he definitely helped me get into [surfing].”
The impact of surfing is different from surfer to surfer. Savage says, “[surfing] has definitely become my practice. I don’t go to church, but I think it is the closest thing to a spiritual practice.” Krieger, on the other hand, does not see it as a religion. He says, “it could definitely be a lifestyle, a sport, a passion. It’s definitely a lifestyle, but it is also my job, so I guess I am kinda fortunate because even if I don’t get the opportunity to surf when I go to work, I go surf. So I am forced to have it as a lifestyle and I like it.”
Reinstein acknowledges that almost all of his life has been influenced and impacted by surfing.
“To me, it is a lifestyle. It will change your life. I know for years and years I based all my free time and where I went on is there surf? If you say and my wife has said, ‘We are going to a family reunion in North Dakota’. Well, there is no surf in North Dakota so I do not want to go. I don’t want to travel anywhere that doesn’t have the potential for me to surf. So you build your lifestyle around: where am I going to go surf?”
The connection to the ocean, nature, and surfing is so precious that people build their lives around Bolinas to the point where some people can become protective. Bolinas has a reputation for being localized or exclusive to tourists and newcomers. There is an unwritten code stating who can be categorized as a Bolinas local. Reinstein who currently lives in Petaluma, but works, surfs, and now even has a small place above the shop does not consider himself to be a local at all: “I think you have to be born and raised here to be a Bolinas local.”
Krieger explains, “What’s funny is that a lot of people will move here and become super extreme locals and tell other people to leave, but then there are other people that have been here longer and are super low key and don’t even care. There is always somebody that is going to think you are not local enough.”
Even with the reputation Bolinas has received, the problems Bolinas faces are understandable and Bolinas locals are probably more friendly than some might believe. Reinstein clarifies that “[Bolinas] is definitely still trying to remain an exclusive community with the sign being torn down and maybe they are not so welcoming to outsiders, but I think that is just a matter of everything being overcrowded whether it is the trails to hike or the beach or the parking. I don’t think there are as many angry locals as people think or portray.”
Krieger believes that gentrification and high real estate values are a problem to Bolinas locals, but not unique in the Bay Area: “If you look at the real estate office, the cheapest place right now is 1.2 million dollars. Well, you’re not going to pay that working at the People’s Store (local food store). In other places in the Bay Area, you could potentially get a job and afford to live there, whereas in Bolinas there really aren’t the jobs to be able to pay the rent and definitely not the mortgage.” Because of this gentrification, people who were raised in Bolinas and want to stay are struggling, which can be extremely frustrating.
Despite the true cause of Bolinas’ problems and localism, 2 Mile has received some animosity over the years and has been cited as a contributor to tourism. “There are definitely some people that are against 2 Mile. They think we brought all those people here,” Reinstein acknowledges. Krieger defends the shop, “This town has some really vocal people that do a good job of making it seem like they represent the community, and so the first year or two were kinda tough with those people that were really against it, but people surf here and the town is better off with a surf shop for the majority of people. This isn’t a private beach, it’s not exclusively for the people that live here.”
Regardless of criticism or support, 2 Mile does supply necessary equipment so that people can enjoy the surf, and it does its best to contribute to the nature-loving, creative, and peaceful Bolinas vibe. In addition to putting a limit on how many surfers they will take out and preaching respect for nature and people living here, 2 Mile embodies Bolinas with its surf report. Most surf reports give the user a quantitative surf height, but 2 Mile does things a little bit differently: “I am giving you a cryptic message which in one way respects Bolinas not wanting people to know ‘It is firing come’. To me, it [feels] Bolinas-esque in terms of creative writing, crystal prophecies, and inspirational quotes.”
Savage, Krieger, and Reinstein shatter the stereotype that surfers and surf store owners are lazy stoners. Reinstein says, “I retired from my job to do this, and this is what I do to make my living. I work harder now for less money than I ever did in my life.” After spending the day at 2 Mile I realized how busy owning a store, even a surf store, can be. People would come in waves and Reinstein would spring to action fitting eager surfers with their gear, and even during the lulls, Reinstein would focus on the future by planning out gear and supplies he needs to order. Krieger is also very diligent. In addition to being a surf instructor, Krieger is also a commercial crab fisherman, and no longer lives in Bolinas so he must commute from Fairfax.
All three work hard and shape their lives to maintain a connection to the ocean, which is extremely admirable. To most people, it seems inevitable that a surf town would have a surf shop, and it is because of Reinstein, Krieger, and Savage that the surf shop Bolinas got is respectful and socially aware.