OCEAN CITY — With the Dew Tour heading to the beach this week, one local business is hoping the event will show Ocean City how important action sports are to the Eastern Shore.
“I think it [the tour] is going to be tremendous,” said Mark Pugh, one of the owners of K-Coast Surf Shop on 35th Street in Ocean City. “I think we’ll see a lot of day trippers come into town.”
The Dew Tour is a massive event consisting of skateboard, BMX and surfing competitions, along with a free concert. It’s heading to Ocean City for the first time ever through Sunday.
Pugh expects the tour to bring a lot of business to his shop, as well as the community at large, and has planned several promotions and tie-ins.
“We wanted to be complimentary to the tour,” he said.
On Wednesday, professional surfer and recording-artist Donovan Frankenreiter was on hand for a meet and greet.
Maryland native and professional skateboarder Bucky Lasek visited the store to sign autographs Thursday.
WQMR 101.1 also broadcast from the 35th Street location Thursday and awarded prizes and giveaways to listeners. Both events coincided with a large sale.
“Thursday is like a big kickoff day for us,” said Pugh.
Besides the promotions directly related to the tour, K-Coast will continue with what Pugh calls a series of “low-key, fun events,” that include everything from surf lessons to movie showings throughout the weekend, which is forecast to be one of the biggest in Ocean City history from a crowd perspective.
“The customers appreciate it,” said Pugh of the activities.
Pugh explained that his main hope is that the tour will raise awareness about the surfing and skating culture in Ocean City.
“I hope the Dew Tour shows the town the value of the action sports market,” he said.
Pugh added that the town’s focus on being a family resort went hand-in-hand with action sports and what the Dew Tour is all about.
While Pugh is excited for the events and the athletes that are coming town, he stressed that K-Coast had much more going on besides what is planned for Dew Tour weekend.
Along with the main 35th Street location and the 78th St K-Coast Girl shop, Pugh has recently added a retail outlet site in Rehoboth.
“We saw a large market share that was generally being handed to national chains, rather than be serviced by a core surf shop retailer,” said Pugh of the rationale behind expanded to the north.
According to Pugh, the response to the outlet store was immediate and positive.
“The vast majority of our customers at the outlet store have never stepped foot into a core surf shop,” he said, “but they either already wear the brands we sell or are pleasantly surprised we sell what they like.”
The expansion to the Tanger Outlets in Rehoboth represents a big jump from where K-Coast was when Pugh and partner Chris Shanahan founded the business in 1989.
Pugh and Shanahan met while serving as busboys at Phillips Crab House in 1982. Putting up their respective cars as collateral, they were able to score a small loan to move their shop to a larger location across the street into what was the original Ocean City branch of the U.S. Post Office.
What was once a small building in downtown Ocean City at the corner of Somerset Street and Baltimore Avenue has grown into three separate locations, including the 10,000-square-foot 35th Street location, which is not only one of the largest surf shop in Maryland, but in the country as well.
The 35th Street store opened in July of 2005 on a half-acre parcel the two purchased years ago. The two-story store features apparel for the entire family, a huge supply of surfboards and skateboards, a wall of sandals and shoes, hundreds of T-shirt styles, an impressive display of sunglasses, a variety of surf accessories and much, much more.
While the company has seen tremendous growth since the days after Pugh and Shanahan first let go out of their familiar red and white Phillips uniforms, Pugh made it clear that the brand won’t likely stop there.
Pugh confirmed that he would like to see another 5-10 outlet locations spring up within the next decade.
Those spots, Pugh remarked, help the surf culture reach the mainstream and those who might be put off visiting a pure surf shop. But, however much the brand expands, Pugh made it clear that K-Coast would always be a “hardcore” surf shop at heart.