In mid-summer, downtown Huntington Beach welcomed a new shop dubbed The Dusk: A Men's Retail Collective. Instead of curating a space catering to HB's popular surf culture, the organizing quartet built a platform for the local motorcycle subculture. Inside the 200-square-foot garage on Second Street and Walnut Avenue exists not only a convenient place to grab riding gear, but also a so-called man cave where riders can network, listen to vinyl, and bond over beers and moonshine.
Aptly named, The Dusk is a collective in every sense of the word. At its core are four likeminded gentlemen who banded together over the past few years and are now proud partners of the space. Kenny Lago and David Pastorello connected in 2007 through a shared love for indie apparel. Together they launched Product Me, a unique online retail experience that encompasses art, music, fashion, and culture. With The Dusk, they've finally found a brick and mortar home to tell the stories behind the brands.
The duo befriended fellow riders and craftsmen John Moss of Brass Junkie and Stephen Rivera of Greydog Signs and Displays just over a year ago, and their shared desire to establish a "the ultimate Clubhouse Experience" united to form the artfully designed and carefully curated collective.
"It's a true collaboration of everything," says Pastorello, adding, "This whole idea was birthed over whiskey at a trade show." There, the men asked each other one very crucial question: "What would be rad?" The result? The Dusk.
Selective when choosing local brands, Lago and Pastorello meet each and every vendor before shaking hands. Explains Pastorello, "For the most part we try to find brands that have a good score behind them or fit the lifestyle." Collaborations spark "if our vibes mesh," says Lago. A look around the space will catch the names of several local brands, including Deus Ex Machina, ourCaste, Iron & Resin, Stance Socks, Imperial Barber Products, Loser Machine, Dark Seas, and Skydog Jewelry.
"It's hard to get guys to shop," says Pastorello, continuing, "If there's something cool about [the brand], if there's a little detail that we can talk to, if there's a story behind the brand that we can speak to...now you have an appreciation for who they are and what they're about, and you're proud to wear their clothing."
Pastorello notes one other perk of their retail experience: "The brands we carry you can't get anywhere else on Main Street," an area rife with women's boutiques.
Remove the goods from the tables and shelves at The Dusk, and what remains are rustic pieces of furniture and industrial fixtures built by Moss and Rivera—most of which are also for sale. From the weathered wooden crate wall shelves and counter, to the metal and wood sliding shop door and display tables, Moss and Rivera made it by hand using reclaimed materials. Even the two for sale vintage 1974 and 1978 Harley Shovelheads parked outside are works by Moss.
Discussing the resurgence of vintage choppers in HB and the intrinsic brotherhood deeply rooted in biking, Moss says, "On a daily basis you'll see or hear loud, mean, fast 'garage built' choppers ripping down PCH in Huntington Beach—always have—but not like today's re-birth of the 60-70s chopper." Various styles from the 40s through the 70s are in high demand nowadays, and buyers are shelling out "top dollar," according to Moss.
While at least one passerby, intimidated by the biker culture apparent in The Dusk's interior and exterior, admittedly required a few strolls past the shop to finally step inside, the partners are always welcoming and happy to talk shop. Lago and Pastorello openly detail each maker, including their backgrounds and techniques, and Moss and Rivera never shy away from discussing their works. Even the not-for-sale decor, like animal antlers and skulls, potted plants, and a vintage Singer sewing machine, prove to be intriguing conversation pieces. One topic is always hot at The Dusk, and that's riding.
Stacks of old and new vinyl also adorn the space, the result of Rivera's music background and obsession. Some records can be purchased, while others from his personal collection exist solely as fodder for the store's record player and vintage aesthetic. The selection of tunes hits nearly every note and genre, and Rivera says the group is working toward co-sponsored events with Innovative Leisure and RidingEasy Records.
The Dusk has grown organically since mid-July, and new products join the collective every month. Other future plans include organized rides; biker drive-in nights, swap meets, barbecues, and concerts in their huge back lot; as well as the expansion of a more complete one-stop shop for bikers, offering tuneups and repairs. A late October event is currently in the works.
"We want it to be a destination," says Pastorello while sipping a can of PBR and promising, "There's always beer in the fridge." Moss says the community-centric space offers "finally some old school, taking us back to how Huntington was."
With all four men balancing other projects, shop hours vary but typically fall between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. The Dusk is closed on Monday, and Tuesday and Wednesday operations vary. On any open day, visitors can catch at least one of the four partners, all sporting mustaches and beards at various stages of growth.
Stop in, say hi, and study the space. Who knows, you could end up staying until dusk.
UPDATE: As of early January 2015, The Dusk has closed its doors.