Savin Rock Surf Shop brings kayak, paddleboard, bike rentals to West Haven shore
If you look around West Haven — and especially at its 3 1/2 miles of mostly-public shoreline — it may come as a surprise that no one ever has opened a surf shop here before now.
They’re all over the Jersey shore, Cape Cod, Florida and the coast of Maine. New London has some. Old Saybrook, Old Lyme, Clinton and Westport all have surf shops.
Now, as of this summer, so does West Haven.
Savin Rock Surf Shop , located along a stretch of West Haven beach where the old Savin Rock amusement park once stood, provides access to a whole bunch of stuff you might need during a day at the beach in West Haven, including kayak, paddle board and “beach cruiser” bicycle rentals.
And, yes, they deliver — to anywhere along the West Haven shore, as well as into the Woodmont end of Milford. They’ll even pick the stuff up when your beach party or other waterfront fun is over.
The shop is at 266 Capt. Thomas Blvd., not far from Dunkin’ Donuts on the Altschuler Plaza end of the Savin Rock Parkade shopping center. It can be reached by phone at 203-654-9383.
Then they opened the Savin Rock Surf Shop just in time for Memorial Day.
They’re waiting for you to stop by.
“It always drove us crazy that no one was doing anything” to cater to beachgoers in West Haven, said Curtis, sitting in the shop — which is decked-out like a tiki bar, with a floor painted yellow to look like sand — one recent afternoon.
“In this (Savin Rock Parkade) shopping center, there was, like, no traction,” said Curtis, a product of the West Haven school system who recently moved back after years living elsewhere.
Now, with the opening of the surf shop, a soon-to-be Turkish restaurant under construction next door, a ramen shop coming across the street in the former Savin Rock Roasters space and some other storefronts showing signs of life elsewhere in the Parkade, “all of a sudden there is traction,” Curtis said.
Darcey and Curtis, both now 47, “always appreciated that we live right here on the water,” said Curtis.
They want you to appreciate it, too — and if you can’t afford to buy, or don’t have room to store, all the gear you need, they can help.
Basic prices are $25 per hour for paddle boards, $20 per hour for kayaks and $10 per hour for Huffy “Beach Cruiser” bikes — or $25 per half-day or $35 per full-day.
You also can get everything from beach lounge chairs ($10 per day) and cart chairs ($15 per day) to beach umbrellas ($10 per day,) hammocks ($30 per day) and even 10-foot-by-15-foot beach canopies for $15 per day.
They even rent coolers.
“So many people in West Haven live in apartments,” Curtis said. “We didn’t think that many have them would actually have kayaks here.”
So far, business has been good on nice, sunny days and so-so when the weather is iffy, they said.
“I think it’s a work in progress, and we’re trying to gain traction,” said Darcey.
One thing that people are just learning “is that we’ll set up equipment anywhere on the beach,” as well as in Woodmont, “not just where we are,” said Curtis.
They’ve even had a lot of people coming in from New York City who are staying at AirB&Bs nearby, he said.
To get the word out, “we’re pounding social media — because it’s free,” said Darcey. The Savin Rock Surf Shop can be found on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Yelp, among other places, in addition to http://savinrocksurf.com.
“I think that we’ve needed a shop like that in West Haven for a long time,” said Pat Libero, a Board of Education member and retired educator who has known Curtis and Darcey since there were her students at Pagels Elementary school.
Savin Rock Surf Shop offers an opportunity for people to try things that they don’t already own, Libero said. “I wish them all the best and I hope that they do really well and expand.”
She said she was excited to see them “starting this here and trying to make improvements to our city and add value to being here. I love it!” she said. “One of these days I’m going to rent a kayak!”
Fred A. Messore, the city’s commissioner of planning and development, said the surf shop, with which his staff worked to allow some outside storage of equipment, is a welcome addition to West Haven.
“The city wants to see them be successful at that location, being that the use is kind of a water-based use,” Messore said. “Obviously, with the amount of water there and the beach scene, it definitely fits in there nicely.”