Where to Find the Most Legit Surf and Skate Shop in Houston: Surfhouse
Fans of Carol and Lloyd Sandel’s Surfhouse in Oak Forest can still find the high-end gear and expertise they’ve grown accustomed to at the shop’s new location on 34th Street, but may have to adjust to a more modern look.
What used to be blue shag carpet at the old location—where the Sandels ran their successful surf and skate shop for 50 years—has been replaced with finished concrete floors where they have laid dozens of stickers. Old-school posters, some featuring Lloyd himself during the height of his and Houston’s surfer days, line nearly every surface. But the Sandels want to add more, to cover every square inch like they had at the old location. The shop’s famous front door, which paid homage to the '60s, has been moved to the Texas Surf Museum. A clear, new door with a full view of the growing shopping center around it has taken its place.
About two years ago, the Sandels, both in their 70s, were told that the land their shop had been on for 50 years at 34th and Ella had been sold to a new owner. He would be tearing down Surfhouse and other nearby businesses to make room for a new shopping district at 34th and Ella.
“If we wanted to stay in business or stay on 34th we had to move,” Carol says.
Their biggest concern was lag time, wanting to remain open as long as possible for their loyal customers in the neighborhood, across the state and across the country. The developer of the new shopping center, Bryan Danna of ReVive Development, who had been a patron of the store himself since he was 12 years old, promised the Sandels they would only have to wait one day between closing the old location and opening the new one in his center. He allowed them to operate at the old location until they officially moved in June, with Carol running credit cards at the new location while shoppers perused their inventory at the other.
“Our customers will shop in any type of situation” Carol says. “During Ike, when we were out of power for 17 days, they shopped in the dark and brought cash.”
Apart from the new look, the product and vibe remains the same. Customers, many of whom donated their services to build the new shop, still come in for quality surf and skate gear that they wouldn’t be able to find among department stores’ “toy boards,” the Sandles say. And generations of surf and skate families who have frequented the shop since its beginnings still come in with repair questions or to buy their youngest his or her inaugural board.
“I have a lot of guys who come in and say, ‘You put my skateboard together when I as 12. Now I want you to put my son's skateboard together,’” Lloyd says. “And for a while now it has even been, ‘I want you to put my grandkid's skateboard together.’”
The Sandels plan to host their grand opening this fall, probably in October. Expect to see local bands led by their customers, old school cars and food from other neighborhood favorites at the celebration.