A brief history of the trials and tribulations of a small, independent skate shop.
The Early Years at UCSD
It all started off in a 400 sqft retail space at the University of California San Diego. The students of John Muir College voted on what they would like to see added to the campus, and the popular choice was a Surf Shop! The college Deans reached out to Scott Lembach, a long-time San Diego native, avid surfer, and business man. Leaving behind his old life, Scott threw himself and his life savings into starting the company of his dreams. Muir Surf and Sport opened in September 2005.
With surfboards in stock, Scott hired two promising students to breathe digital life into the new company. Graphic Designer Sergie Magdalin came on board to design the logo, branding, and marketing materials. Web Developer Marc Leglise fired up MuirSurf.com and took on the programming reins.
Passionate students started the UCSD Skate Club. After partnering on several events, Scott hired one of the principal members, Seth Brown, to help with customer service. Over time, longboard skateboards became the primary focus of the business, and the website moved from MuirSurf to MuirSkate.com.
Moving to Pacific Beach
In early 2009, UCSD notified Scott that the Muir Surf and Sport building, and its surrounding areas, would shutdown over the summer to undergo sorely-needed renovations. Rather than close the business for several months, Scott seized the opportunity to relocate to a prime location on Garnet Ave in San Diego's famed Pacific Beach neighborhood.
Located within skating distance from the beach, the new store front attracted plenty of summer foot traffic. All seemed well, until the winter months came around, and sales slowed to a trickle. Struggling under the high cost of rent for the premium location, Scott faced a grave decision: declare bankruptcy or change strategies. He picked a new strategy, and it worked.
New Strategy in Miramar
Scott realized the best customers at the Pacific Beach store were the ones who researched their purchases online, identified MuirSkate for its outstanding reputation for customer service, and drove to find the shop, no matter what the address. With that in mind, he leased a small warehouse in nearby Miramar, moved everything over, and reincorporated as Muir Longboard Shop, Inc. The website, rather than the physical store, became the top priority.
With renewed focus, Scott transformed the business into an online-order-processing beast. Seth and Sergie devoted countless hours to updating the website's content. Word spread about the awesome online longboard shop that let you customize your board, where the owner himself answered customer emails. The business flourished.
Scaling up to Production Ave
By the end of 2012, customer love was off the charts. The warehouse filled with rad longboard gear, stacked to the ceilings. It was time to grow. After a long and careful search, Scott picked the warehouse at 8601 Production Ave. The mini ramp was built in January, and the business opened its new doors in February 2013.
Scaling up to meet the customer demand was no easy task. The team grew in size and the bills got bigger. Derek Smith became the full-time Media Manager, producing high-quality videos and product photography. Warehouse Manager Bill Hogan joined the team to organize and manage the growing complexity behind the scenes. These were the golden years of MuirSkate.
After years of highs, the lows eventually hit. Cheap knockoffs entered the market and caved in the industry. Many brands, manufacturers, and retailers were hit hard... including MuirSkate. Scott scaled everything down, moving into a smaller warehouse to make ends meet. Yet the slow winter months loomed...
Closing the Shop
After another brutal winter, it was time to face facts. The market was no longer able to sustain a specialty shop that invested in the community. Scott announced the closure first on Instagram, and the response was astounding. Fans came from every corner of the earth to voice their support! None the less, the decision had to be made. It was time to close the store.
Thank you for being with us on this glorious 13 year journey. Scott has lots more to give to the longboarding community, so don't go away!
There's more to come...