The Closing of Rocky’s Surf Shop in Ocean Beach

by on September 26, 2012 · 3 comments

in Culture, Economy, History, Ocean Beach, Popular

By Mercy Baron

Rocky’s Surf Shop on the corner of Abbott and Muir, in Ocean Beach, closed it’s doors September 15 after serving the surf community for an impressive 25 years. Owner, Doug Yates, was very forthcoming in my interview with him on the state of the surfing industry in Southern California today, and how it has affected his decision to close the doors to a surf shop destination.

Rocky’s was originally started in 1990 by original owner Robin Marion and was then bought by John Holly. Doug started as an employee about 12 years ago, and then bought it from John about 5 years ago in 2008.

Doug Yates. (All photos by Mercy Baron.)

Doug stated that in 2005, Clark Foam of Mission Viejo, the world’s largest supplier of surfboard blanks, went out of business, and they accounted for 80% of the blanks being made in the surf world. To fill that need, money poured into the industry with boards being made in China and Taiwan, which were made so cheaply, that it created a glut of boards. At that point, surfers stopped buying new boards. He said there was nothing wrong buying used ones or fixing up old ones, especially with the economy being in the state it is, but it definitely hurt his business.

OB surfboard shapers, John Holly, John Neves and Jerry Sherman, who each shaped 25-100 boards a year, also had a tremendous drop in business. After those guys shaped them, they would go to Doug who is the guy that puts the fiberglass, or hard shells on them for the finish, and then he would sell those in Rockys.

Doug said business actually picked up about 25% the last 3 years, but it was just too little, too late.

When I asked Doug if South Coast and other shops on Newport Ave had hurt his business, he said not at all. Those shops were more tourist clothing destinations, and his was the shop where surfers from all over Southern California would come to mainly buy surfboards. He also sold clothing and the Rocky Logo was very popular on it’s own.

Rocky was a surfing Cocker Spaniel who belonged to original owner, Robin Marion, and appeared in Bruce Brown’s Endless Summer Ii, a popular movie surfing series, and on the local news here many times. The logo featured a paw print that can also be seen at our World Famous Dog Beach on the big cement pad.

They had a big blowout sale their final weekend, and Doug said he might do one more big sale day at the end of September. A short video on Rocky’s posted last yer on You Tube can be seen here .

When I interviewed Doug on his closing weekend, the shop was filled with customers grabbing anything they could get their hands on. I saw many surfboards flying out the door and I even bought a pair of flip flops, and I had to have a red zip up hoodie with the famous Rocky’s logo on it. All at 50% off. When I hit the beach later and told some of my fellow Obceans that the shop was closing, most didn’t even know about it, Later many of them told me they headed right over there and bought something. The famous Rocky t shirts were the first thing to sell out Doug told me. Everyone wanted a little piece of OB history.

After growing up in Santa Cruz, Doug dreamed of owning his own shop after spending many years working for others. He will continue to finish boards in a workshop he has near Sea World. You can email Doug at  for further info.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar ClubStyle_DJ September 28, 2012 at 7:38 am

Damn… I used to live across the street from this iconic surf shop. Saw it out my window daily for 4 years. I used to dream of one day buying a Rocky board and trying surfing or( just have one to hang on the wall). This place was my “yeah I’m a beach bum now” inspiration when I first moved here from God forsaken Cleveland. A Sad day in OB for sure.


avatar Goatskull September 28, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Very sad indeed. I had no idea about Rocky’s closing (or now closed) until now. Definitely not a good sign of the times.


avatar Goatskull October 1, 2012 at 11:14 am

Well hopefully a new and cool surf shop will take the space over, kind of like what happened when Star Surf Co. closed its doors but Surf Indian came in. Wishful thinking but you never know.


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