Tony Gile, the founder and owner of Safari Town Surf Shop in Lincoln City, said it’s hard to believe that the shop is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month.
“It doesn’t seem like that long ago that I was just opening up. But that was before I had any kids, and now they’re all getting older,” Gile said with a chuckle.
Giles began surfing at age 12, and from that point on, he always dreamed of owning a surf shop. In 1989, that dream came true — but not without some hard work first.
He actually started by selling wetsuits and surf gear out of the back of his Toyota pickup, working hard to save money for a brick and mortar store. He and his brother began to shape surfboards and screenprint t-shirts — all to further the business.
“We really wanted to have a shop,” said Gile, “but we didn’t have any money or any credit. So we weren’t sure how that was going to happen.”
However, through determination, hard work and belief in the dream — including quitting his day job to work the surf business fulltime — Gile was able to rent the storefront where he still runs the shop today. To his memory, Safari Town Surf Shop was one of only two surf shops in town when it opened.
Over the years, surfing has changed and so has Lincoln City. Safari Town always carried in-house screenprinted attire, but their inventory and the brands carried have expanded. In addition, the shop now has a skateboarding department, offers kayak tours and rents out fat-tire bikes for those looking to ride the sand rather than the waves.
Though there have been a few changes to the business, Safari Town Surf Shop is still a local and family-owned shop — all of Gile’s children have worked in the shop at one time or another. Customers are greeted with a smile and a wealth of knowledge about surfing, and surfing on the central Oregon coast specifically.
“We’d like to thank the community for helping us to last this 30 years here,” said Gile. “They’ve been supportive, and we’ve worked hard to build a clientele.”
Safari Town Surf Shop is located at 3026 NE Highway 101, Lincoln City. The shop is currently operating during their winter hours: Mondays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. The shop is closed on Tuesdays. Stop in or shop online at safaritownsurf.com.