Surf shops are sort of a Southern California thing. A place to purchase. Boards and board shorts, t-shirts and all kinds of other shit. Our consumer culture at its finest - because I'll be goddamned if you don't dress the part. Elsewhere, though, a surf shop is a lot like an A.A. meeting. A place for someone with a serious case of the stoke to shoot the proverbial shit, seek help or speak with their sponsor. Here in the northwest, however, we've been without such a shop ever since Cheka-Looka shut its doors in December of 2009. Sure, there's other surf shops in Seattle, but not one you'd want to spend the better part of an afternoon in. No offense.

All of this became apparent when Karissa and I wandered into Topsea, a small surf shop in Tel Aviv, just south of Hilton Beach. It was more of a clubhouse than anything else. Rentals boards out front, wet wetsuits hanging on a rack inside and two dudes looking at us like we must be lost. It was excellent.

I asked about their boards, i.e. how much to rent a real one. We talked about the waves and the wind, about Israel and all that it has to offer. They wondered why we didn't want to rent wetsuits, but after explaining we'd come from the great white north with 5mm suits stuffed inside our Topo Design Duffel bags, they were almost impressed - "What, did you guys plan to go diving?!" They offered us a cup of coffee, suggested we stop by the shop and spend some time getting to know the guys. They were both gregarious and gracious. Something you don't see a lot of these days.

It was obvious to us; this is what a surf shop should be. Because it seems like we've become increasingly concerned with our appearance as opposed to our performance. How people perceive us. But this place wasn't about all that bullshit. No t-shirts. No sandals. Just a place for people to spend some time when they're not doing what they love: surfboarding waterhills. It was an excellent example of a surf shop that didn't suck. An example others should emulate.

Click here for a few more photos.

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