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News

Surf Portland

Stay Wild

Three New Surf Shops Open 80 Miles from the Coast

Photo & Words by Justin “Scrappers” Morrison

 

I’m in Portland, Oregon, the coast is 80 miles away. It’s a two-hour drive beyond the city, the suburbs, the farms, and the forest. Portland is not at the beach, but it has a surf culture all its own. 

Something is growing organically here, beyond the reach of the mainstream scene. It’s in our art (the paint is still wet), our fashion (think wool and waxed canvas), our food & drink (smoke salmon stout), and even in our music (listen to Guantanamo Baywatch). Our DIY/maker/design culture has a surfy side, too! We have great surfboard shapers living and working here, like Mike Hall of Blackfern, the guys at FRESTcoast, and Dan Murdey, who learned to glass in Bend, Oregon with Hawaiian legend Gerry Lopez. The most “Portland” thing of all might be Pushfins making surfboard fins out of old, busted skateboard decks.

We have a surf scene here, so it’s no surprise three surf shops are opening at the same time. Leeward, Cosube, and Up North Surf Club are all about our Northwest culture. All three shops are a vital voice in the conversation defining this pioneer surf scene.


Why are you opening in Portland now? The beach didn’t get any closer. Has a cultural tide changed?

“Folks are coming here all the time. Portland is growing. A lot of these folks are moving here from coastal cities, and they surf. It only takes a few trips out to the Oregon coast to realize there is some fun surf to be had if you can get past the 5mm suits, booties, and ice cream headaches.

Outdoor culture at large is really having a peak moment as well it seems, especially in Portland and the Northwest. I believe the Portland community has a deep desire to connect with the outdoors, which is one of the things that makes this place so great.” 

-Lyndsey Lee Faulkner of Leeward

 

“When I started surfing in the ‘90s the surfing community was so small that the coastal shops and a couple sporting goods stores were enough to satisfy the demand. Over the last five years, with the growth of Portland and advancement in technology, specifically in wetsuits, surfing as a sport and hobby has expanded tremendously.” 

-Alex Morris of Cosube

 

“It came down to creating a job for myself that I enjoy. Karen, my fiancé, had always wanted to open a store, and I thought, ‘Let’s give this a shot while we can.’ Hopefully it evolves into a place that has a good vibe.” 

-Martin Schoeneborn of Up North Surf Club


What is your shop’s vibe?

“The space itself will be influenced by Northwest coastal architecture and mid-century design principles. Well-designed and thoughtful, with a dose of homegrown Northwest character. We’ll probably have too many plants and tapestries.”

-Lyndsey Lee Faulkner of Leeward

 

“The shop will have early morning hours, offering equipment rentals and locally roasted Coava coffee to surfers heading to the coast before work and other early risers. In the afternoons and evenings, Cosube’s tap list will feature local craft beers while two beer cases will feature ice-cold bottles from the world’s top surfing destinations. We will offer an assortment of apparel, accessories, and lifestyle goods that define a cold-water surf culture.” 

-Kelsie Morrow of Cosube

 

“We want to keep the formula pretty simple. Surfing is pretty simple at the core. If you can get your hands on a board and a wetsuit, you can go surf as much as you want…. We’d like it to be inviting to surfers and non-surfers alike, a neighborhood place where people can come hang out. A bunch of friends are helping with the design and buildout, so I think their contributions will dictate the vibe just as much as any ideas Karen and I have.”

-Martin Schoeneborn of Up North Surf Club


Portland is growing. I’ve seen community gardens and forested parks cleared away to make room for more condos. It’s getting crowded, but by California or Hawai’i standards the water is not crowded. Yet. 

You’ll see more wool and hiking boots on the beach than aloha shirts and bikinis. It’s not very sexy. Yet. We are a hairy bunch of outsiders living in the pioneer culture of a new surf scene. No business, brand, or company has claimed ownership. Yet. 

The waves are not getting any closer to Portland. Yet!