For Locals, By Locals: New Surf Shop 'The Zone' Opens In Sunset Beach
Huntington Beach locals are often smitten with the nostalgic small Southern California beach town, trodden by surfers and teaming with cozy shops owned and run by locals—a reason many venture north to Sunset Beach, a throwback to simpler times. Local artist Janessa Bookout and surfboard shaper David Moore of DMZ Surfboards have rekindled this vibe with The Zone, their answer to what Surf City USA truly needs.
Between the sand and Pacific Coast Highway, The Zone sits at the corner of 11th Street—across from the historic Sunset Beach Post Office—and offers everything from paddle board rentals and handmade bikinis, to custom surfboards and rare boardshorts. Bookout beams as we enter her colorful, curated world, draped with one-of-a-kind patterns and whimsical textiles. When she's manning the boutique, she's sitting among friends and extended family members, being that the shop she opened with longtime partner Moore houses surf lifestyle goods made by their friends—many right here in Huntington Beach. And it all happened by chance.
Post-morning surf sesh in early 2016, Moore stumbled upon a "for rent" sign pointing to an empty space next to The Pocket, one that had cradled surf shops in years passed. As fate may have it, the couple had been seeking a creative space, though not a retail opportunity. Flash-forward to June 13, and they've completely gutted and reimagined the spot, crafting a retail nook up front using recycled wood palettes and making room for Bookout's art studio in the back.
"Let's have a shop for us now," says Bookout, explaining how they welcomed friends to bring their wares to The Zone. "It's the local brands you can't find in the big shops."
On June 20, The Zone celebrated its grand opening at Schooner at Sunset alongside reggae bands Kabaka Pyramid and local favorite Special Blend. Already regarded members of Huntington Beach's surf community, the novice surf shop owners gratefully embraced the overwhelming support and stoke for their little blue surf shack.
Outside The Zone you'll spy any and every beach toy you need, whether it be an SUP board or kayak for the neighboring Huntington Harbour, a skateboard or bicycle to cruise the greenbelt and beach path, or a surfboard or boogie board for the swell. Southern California skateboarder Dustin Gadow is also on-hand for skate lessons and as your trusty SUP guide.
Inside The Zone you'll find unique, limited run beach apparel and accessories by local brands and artists, like WiseFool, Sam Bernal, Jason Samarin, Kitty Willis, and Earthlog, along with brands from like-minded communities in Florida and Hawaii. Artworks by Bookout adorn the walls, from painted surfboards to mermaid sculptures. Featured makers will rotate, and Bookout plans to add more local artists to the walls, and eventually host art shows at the ever-evolving space.
Moore's surfboards and paddle boards are also on display, ranging from blanks awaiting a vision to gently used rentals. A true shaper, his literally hands-on approach to the craft finds him executing every step of the process by hand, from sanding to glassing, in his Huntington Beach shaping bay. Turnaround time for a DMZ board is roughly two to three weeks, which, if you've ever ordered a custom board, can be considered lightning speed. And Moore doesn't keep The Zone exclusive to his work; he showcases other shapers, including Huntington Beach's Baimbridge Surfboards.
For now, Bookout and Moore are simply honored and grateful to have built something for the local community with the support of their friends and family. Peering into the future, they see a hand-painted trailer toting rentals around town, more collaborations and partnerships, a DMZ clothing line, and an enduring zone for locals to call home.
The Zone // 16873 Pacific Coast Highway, Unit A, Sunset Beach, CA // 562-446-0705
Hours // 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday & Thursday; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday-Sunday; closed Monday & Tuesday.