The Netflix Of Surfboards
On the sunny coast of San Diego, two brothers have developed the next step in surf demo – compliments of the digital age! It’s essentially the Netflix of Surfing: Rent a board, give it wiggle, if you like it keep it, if not send it back and try something new.
Matt and Ben Murphy are the owners of The Surf Society, an online board demo site, and Bird Rock Surf Shop in San Diego. “It’s a family-owned business,” Matt tells Stab. “We came up with the idea back in 2010 after having a few disgruntled customers who misrepresented their surfing abilities and were sold a new board that was too small. A week later, they’d come back angry, saying we sold them a board they couldn’t surf and demanded a refund.”
“We’d end up letting the customer demo boards for a week until they finally found one that works,” continues Mr Murphy. “That’s when the light bulb came on. We realised nobody in the industry was doing anything like this. Why make people choose? Why spend $800-plus on a board that you’ve never tried? Just because Slater rips on it, doesn’t mean you will (laughs). Your skill level doesn’t matter; We have boards for everyone. And, who doesn’t love trying out a new board?”
For a year long membership and unlimited access to swapping out boards, it’ll run you $69.95 a month – roughly $840 for the year. The Surf Society has Channel Islands, Firewire, Haydenshapes, Tomo, Rusty, Lost, Slater Designs, DHD, plus many more brands readily available to sample.
“We get our boards from just about anywhere,” says Matt. “We prefer to go straight through the manufacturers. But, we also purchase from other surf shops and even Craigslist.” They’ve only recently fed this platform to public after testing the business model in small focus groups over the past few years. “Our subscribers are growing exponentially right now,” he continues. “We’ve been buying boards like crazy trying to keep up. The concept is a win-win. We’re giving manufacturers a platform to showcase their top designs and our subscribers the access to their dream quiver.”
The crux of this board-swapping system is, boards tend to break, buckle and fin boxes blow. It seems dishing out hundreds of blades to any average joe would come back in a boneyard of fibreglass and foam. “We understand boards are fragile,” says Matt. “We cover normal wear and tear. But, we do charge for broken boxes, breaks or buckles. It’s no different than breaking a fin box out of your own board, if you break it, you fix it.”
If you’re currently typing in your security code to authorise your membership and don’t live in or around San Diego, unfortunately The Surf Society is San Diego-centric. “We currently deliver free of charge to anywhere in San Diego, within five miles of the coast,” Mr Murphy continues (there’s always a catch). “Right now, we’re focused on San Diego, however, we do have members throughout all of California. You don’t need to live locally to take advantage of our service. Our goal is to take this concept to other markets. We are currently seeking locations in several other counties throughout California.”
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