Faces of Fairfax City: Fairfax Surf Shop
Summer is here! Get the kids off videogames, and outside to exercise, play, and make new friends with a fantastically rad skateboard from Fairfax Surf Shop!
Fairfax Surf Shop has been a cultural landmark in Fairfax City since 1976. It’s a family-owned business that knows its business well. Fairfax Surf Shop not only carries all the latest boards, apparel lines, and accessories from major brands, but their staff can also customize a board to your specifications while you watch. They specialize in equipment for boarding on land, water, or snow! Stop by the very colorful shop and talk to one of their friendly and knowledgeable staff for advice and deals on a new fun sport.
Tell us a little about Fairfax Surf Shop.
We are a family owned and operated skate, surf and snowboard shop in Fairfax City since 1976. We were previously located in the old red barn at 3936 Old Lee Hwy. We moved in October 2019 to a larger store in the Courthouse Plaza Shopping Center just a few blocks from our old location. This December we will celebrate our 45th anniversary. Our store serves multiple generations of skateboarders. A typical day will feature customers bringing their children or grandchildren in for a new skateboard always mentioning “I got my first skateboard here in the 70’s”. The shop supplies experienced skateboarders with the best equipment on the market while also teaching those new to skateboarding with free in-store beginner lessons. We are proud to have supported the local community during our long history, donating countless t-shirts, skateboards, and other products to local schools and charitable causes. Our event, SkateFest, has raised over $40,000 for Children’s National Medical Center.
What makes Fairfax Surf Shop unique to Fairfax City?
Local residents have asked for many years, “Why a surf shop in Fairfax, Virginia, 3 hours from a beach?” While we do sell surfboards, board shorts, t-shirts, body boards, etc., our main focus is skateboarding and snowboarding. In addition, we have partnered with Fairfax City Parks and Rec Department for the last 15 years offering Skate Camps in the summer for kids age 7-16.
How many years have you been in the city and what encouraged you to take the leap to get started?
The shop was originally established in 1976 by Jim and Sheila McGrath. Jim was active in the Fairfax City Fire Department. Jim and Sheila also own Bethany Surf Shop in Bethany Beach, DE. In 2003, they decided to retain only the Bethany location and transferred ownership of Fairfax Surf Shop to the Callahan Family.
What inspired you to open Fairfax Surf Shop in Fairfax City?
Our other company, Ski Travel, had long partnered with Fairfax Surf Shop for events and snowboard products for those attending our ski and snowboard trips. Ski Travel has operated ski and snowboard trips for high schools and university students since 1981. When Jim and Sheila McGrath asked us to continue the Fairfax Surf Shop tradition in 2003, we gladly accepted the challenge.
What do you enjoy most about having a business in Fairfax City?
Fairfax City is classic small town America, just outside Washington, D.C. The City features amazing people, great parks, and wonderful events like Rock the Block, Fourth of July Parade, Fall Festival and more. We are just happy to be part of the mix.
How has Fairfax Surf Shop changed since its opening?
The biggest change was our move from the old red barn to our new location in October 2019. Although we do miss our historic building, the new location has given us more room to add additional products. We now have space to keep in stock and display over 300 skateboards, longboards and complete skateboards. We also have the space to give customers free beginner lessons in the shop before they leave with their new board.
What do clients and/or customers say they love about Fairfax Surf Shop?
We are proud of the large number of four and five star ratings we have achieved. Customers love our service the most. They often remark about our knowledgeable staff and the assistance they receive while in the store. We greet our customers and assist them with making the proper selection for their needs. We explain available options to customize their board. Kids love the experience of selecting and customizing their board, trucks and wheels. They particularly enjoy finishing off their board with custom hand-painted grip tape and colored hardware making it a unique board like no other. Customers also appreciate the free beginner lessons and board tuning instructions.
What are some of your fondest memories or biggest successes since you’ve opened?
Our biggest success is our longevity! We have survived 45 years and we are stronger than ever thanks to our incredible customers and the great support from the Fairfax City Government and community.
What’s next for you and Fairfax Surf Shop?
We will continue to grow our business . More people than ever before are now involved in skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We will continue to serve all our customers with the best quality products, the largest selection of skateboards in the area, and our expert staff.
Are there any fun facts you would like residents and visitors to know?
We estimate that over 100,000 of our classic Fairfax Surf Shop T-shirts have been sold since 1976.
The Callahan family has 14 children (9 Boys and 5 girls). All of the kids have grown up working in the shop. Joan Callahan (Age 21) is currently the manager. Many of the younger kids often assist in the shop as well.
When you’re not working, where in Fairfax City do you like to spend your time?
Our family loves Van Dyck Park, especially the skatepark. We also enjoy the many restaurants in the city and Woody’s Ice Cream. We attend all the fun Fairfax City events every year. The kids favorite is the Fourth of July parade and Old Fashioned Fireman’s Day events. All 14 of our kids have been sprayed by those fire hoses since 1990!
How can people follow you on social media?
@fairfaxsurfshop on Instagram
@FairfaxSurfShop on Facebook
Our website: https://fairfaxsurfshop.com/