A nameless store has opened in downtown Laguna, to be known only by its address, 225 Forest.
The doors opened for business without much fanfare at 10 a.m. July 3, in what entrepreneurs call a soft launch. The high-end store carries clothing designed and manufactured for Hurley International, headquartered in Costa Mesa, and Nike and Converse shoes. The premise is that modern surfers also love fashion, music and art.
“It is our only store,” Hurley spokeswoman Reenie Benzinger said.
Still, it is another clothing store on the Avenue, and Hurley had to convince Planning Commissioners that it would be sufficiently different to overcome City Hall’s aversion to shops that don’t add to the preferred “diversity” standards.
“Commissioner Linda Dietrich and I visited the Hurley warehouse, and the breadth and depth of the merchandise and the display talent convinced us that they could create a unique venue,” said Anne Johnson, newly seated commission chair.
However, the company hasn’t quite met all the conditions the commission placed on the conditional use permit, Commissioner Norm Grossman said. He is reserving judgment on the store’s compliance with the CUP until the merchandise is stocked.
Merchndise is deliberately sparse, Benzinger said.
“But it is artfully displayed,” Benzinger said, pointing to six T-shirts in six different colors hanging on a wall.
On another section of wall: Hurley’s signature plaid board shorts.
“They are almost part of the décor,” Benzinger said. “You don’t see stacks of products on shelves.”
Stock is replenished weekly, more often if an item is hot.
But it is “The Workshop” that really sets the store apart.
“The Workshop is unique in a retail store,” Benzinger said. “Customers can choose from three experiences: Nike Custom-designs, Converse Ink and Hurley Heat.”
Ever wanted a pair of sports shoes that had more “swash” than just a swoosh? It’s just a matter of choosing the shoe model and a design from a catalogue and 30 seconds later: custom hightops.
“It takes longer to pick the shoes than to print them,” Brian Cuffi said during a demonstration of the T-shirt digital printer he reprogrammed to hold shoes.
After printing, the shoes can be air dried for 24 hours or they can be popped into a pressing machine at the store for 30 seconds and the customer can wear them out the door. The design is embedded in the fabric.
Designs can also be transferred onto Hurley T-shirts or board shorts. Heat infuses the paper transfer onto the garment. The process takes about one minute and adds just $10 to the cost of any garment, Benzinger said,
The Workshop has two full-time employees, but more will be hired based on customer response.
“Customers can come in by appointment for one-on-one time, but if a kid wants to come in with 10 friends, we can accommodate them,” Benzinger said
The Workshop is in the back of the upstairs loft behind the young women’s clothing area, which has one of the store’s four dressing rooms.
Young men’s clothing, denim, art books related to surfing and some toys to intrigue younger customers and another dressing room are on the mezzanine level. The dressing room’s exterior and interior papered walls were painted by Jason Maloney with large scale versions of the snake and elephant logos he designed that are also used on the store’s bags.
The store was designed in a laboratory on the Costa Mesa Hurley campus by architect Michael Neumann.
It is a mix of industrial and rustic, with a nod to ecology that will gladden the hearts of environmentalists.
Reclaimed plywood was used on the stairs and throughout the store. The store’s biodegradable bags are made of tapioca.
The original brick walls and wooden flooring upstairs were salvaged and incorporated into the design.
The store’s décor can only be described as “eclectic,” with antique-styled chairs juxtaposed with contemporary tables made of recycled sticks.
But the most eye-catching feature is the colorful, two-story tall, acrylic-on-wood painting by James Marshall, commissioned by Hurley for the store.
Marshall, also known as Dalek, made his mark in the art world with “The Space Monkey.”
Surf-related art is displayed on all three levels of the store.
And everything is for sale.