Spyder Comes to Manhattan Beach
Dennis Jarvis brings the best of his South Bay surf wares to a new location
Written by Constance Dunn | Photography by Paul Jonason
If you’ve lived in the South Bay for any period of time, you’ve stopped in or at least cruised by a Spyder shop. Founded by pro surfer and board shaper Dennis Jarvis, who began creating Spyder boards in the late-70s to boost his performance on the pro circuit, his two Spyder stores—one at the corner of PCH and Artesia in Hermosa Beach; the other on Hermosa’s Pier Plaza—have for decades been friendly go-to fixtures for surf gear, from boards and wetsuits to board shorts, bikinis and beach fashion.
Added this past July is a new location in downtown Manhattan Beach, steps from perhaps the busiest corner in town: where Manhattan Avenue meets Manhattan Beach Boulevard. “The Manhattan store is a little bit different than the other shops,” says Jarvis. “We carry a lot of the same brands that we carry in the other shops, but here we carry the cream of the crop because it’s only 1,400 square feet.”
Consider the flagship PCH Spyder store the place for surfboards and skateboards; Pier Avenue as the hub of California beach fashion and the new Manhattan Beach store somewhere between the two.
The shop may be small, but it’s focused: Its men’s side is a straightforward assemblage of board shorts, t-shirts, sweatshirts and flannels, while the women’s section is stocked with a studied collection of the season’s prettiest beach-living garb. There’s a limited number of skateboards and surfboards in the store, but they’re trophy level. Jarvis points out an autograph-scrawled shortboard he shaped to commemorate the 20th-anniversary of the iconic California surf flick Point Break, where he worked behind the scenes, teaching Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze and other cast members to surf.
Others are exhibit boards, one-off works of art that hang on the walls and cost thousands. Much of Spyder MB is given over to the A-list names of the surf-skate-beach world, from Hurley and RVCA to Volcom, Rip Curl and Jarvis’ line of Spyder t-shirts and board shorts. But as someone with a record of spotting and boosting fledgling brands well before they become household names—Spyder was among the first retailers to sell Volcom, ditto for Billabong, then-owned by Jarvis’ friend, Bob Hurley—Jarvis continues to stock emerging and local brands.
He points to clothes from HippyTree, owned by Hermosa native Andrew Sarnecki, and t-shirts by Manhattan Beach cartoonist Ian Freshman (The Bubble). “We work with local people that want to get into the industry,” says Jarvis, “and we help by selling their products in our stores.” It’s in line with a homegrown sensibility that Jarvis touts, pointing to the corporatization of many brands (including local favorite Becker Surf, now owned by Billabong), that can stunt innovation and in-store selection. Still independent and family-run decades after opening his first store in 1983, Jarvis, who staffs 60-plus people, and whose wife helps do the books and son helped me pick out a peasant blouse, looks forward to a greater reach into a community he loves, planning boardshaping clinics and other local events at the new store.
“I grew up in the area, and at the end of my pro career I surfed Manhattan pier probably more than Hermosa pier,” muses Jarvis.
“I’ve always wanted to have a shop in Manhattan Beach.”
1116 Manhattan Avenue, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 | 310.318.2289 | SpyderSurf.com
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