Meet the Merchant: Selling surf gear since 1980 – Coast River Business Journal


Josh Gizdavich, 60, opened Cleanline Surf in 1980. “There was nowhere to get surfing gear,” Gizdavich said. “I started selling surfboards from my house. Once I sold 10 or 12, I thought I should just open a shop.”

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When Gizdavich first opened he had six wet suits and a couple of surf boards. Today, he carries more than 6,000 wet suits and hundreds of surf boards.

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Where are you from originally?

“Seaside, Oregon, born and raised.”

You started in 1980, what made you decide to open a business?

“There was nowhere to get (surfing) gear. I started selling surfboards from my house. Once I sold 10 or 12, I thought I should just start a shop.”

How has your business evolved?

“When we started the shop we had six wet suits in small, medium, large and extra large. If someone tried one on, I wouldn’t let them buy it because it was my “try on” suit. I would have to order it for them. But now we have 6,000 wet suits.”

What was the surfing scene like in 1980 compared to today?

“In 1980, there were about 12 guys and they all knew each other. Okay, maybe 15. It’s not like it is now.”

What do you feel led to the rise in surfing’s popularity?

“Surfing is like being a heroin addict. Once you’ve had your first shot, you’ve got to have more, there’s no going back. As soon as people started to try it, they realized it. In the last 10 or 15 years, wet suit technology has improved dramatically. It opened up the doors for comfort and warmth. A lot more women started coming into the sport shortly after that because now they could look good, be comfortable, and actually learn to surf. There are plenty of women now that surf just as well as the guys.”

What do you recommend to beginners interested in surfing?

“I recommend renting for two or three times. By that time you know if it’s something you want to keep doing. I also recommend a local instructor, someone with a lot of experience like my instructors. And going to the right beach on the right day is also important for a beginner.”

Is there a particular beach that is ideal for learning to surf?

“There are two beaches, Indian Beach and Short Sands. They are where 75 percent of our lessons are given in the summer.”

What do you feel is the future of surfing?

“Surfing itself. What’s happening now is there are artificial wave pools opening up everywhere. Kids in Kansas are learning to surf. In Bend, they have a wave pool that they put in the river that can make standing waves. As time goes, more and more of them will be popping up. We do a lot of business just sending them boards and wet suits.”

What part brings you the greatest satisfaction?

“Talking with people… Sharing the stoke is the ultimate. And then ripping into the boxes every day after UPS comes and seeing the new…

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