Surfing into Retail

Building the Legendary Alki Surf Shop

Alki Surf Shop

When I first tell them, friends look at me with a confused expression. But for many, the more they learn, the more excited they are for this next daring step in my life.

This month, my husband, David Horsfall, and I have been consumed with demolishing a former tattoo shop, seven steps up from Alki Beach, and rebuilding it into what we hope will be part of the vibrant Alki Beach and West Seattle communities.

Alki Surf Shop began last fall as David’s dream. Years ago after seeing an episode of the Real Housewives of New York City, I noticed something interesting: All the women were very wealthy, and they all SOLD things. David ruminated about my observation, and several years later came up with the concept of Alki Surf Shop, and began work designing t-shirts, branding, and  the marketing communications needed to launch

Ty and Katie
Ty and Katie near the Seattle Statue of Liberty

We will be selling our Alki-branded clothing as well as beach accessories and Seattle gifts. That being said, the name “Alki Surf Shop” is tongue-in-cheek. Our good friend Jack Higgins (@jackandpele) dons our shirts all over the world, and has been stopped by Seattle people who say, “Hey, there is no surfing in Seattle!” To which Jack responds, "Oh, yeah? What about the backwash from the ferries?!" There are people boogie boarding and paddle boarding, so, per Jack’s suggestion, expect to find a display of Sexwax!

Jack at the Carnival
Our friend and supporter, Jack Higgins

David and I both have extensive backgrounds in advertising, writing, graphic design, branding, production management, marketing, and communications. David is a former advertising writer and creative director with brilliant strategic vision. I’m a graphic designer by profession, but I’ve spent the past 7 years in a sort of “graduate school,” earning my “masters” in social media. With luck, our combined areas of expertise will lead to a successful venture.

Beside renovating the space, we have had to learn about every aspect of running a retail business including obtaining licenses, reseller permits, insurance, setting up accounts with wholesale suppliers, merchant services, establishing service with business internet, phone and the like.

David wrote The Alki Song,” which was professionally recorded and copyrighted, and Cindy Sangster, one of the best video editors in Seattle took our guerilla-style iPhone and Samsung Galaxy 4* recordings and crafted a terrific video.

The Alki Beach Song by Alki Surf Shop on Vimeo
The Alki Beach Song from - Alki Surf Shop

With the exception of hiring an electrician, and Peter Butzerin, the best plumber in Seattle, David and I, along with my sister, Melissa; Dave and Carol, my brother, and sister-in-law; our youngest son Charley; and David’s brother-in-law Bill, have done all the work on the space. Dave, Carol and Melissa have spent the past 4 weekends there with David and me, working 7-8 hour days. Without their help, we’d most certainly be toast.

Work Party
Dave, David, Melissa, me and Carol

There is an amazing sense of satisfaction as we see the place take shape. Gone are the garish colors, decor and jury-rigged cabinetry, lighting, floors and physical configuration. The space itself has been transformed from what I would describe as a patchwork of incongruent rectangles into an a retail store as optimized as existing pipes and structural supports would allow. When we are open, I'll post an updated photo.

The Tattoo Shop
The tattoo shop — where we began

The next step will be installing store fixtures and shelves and arranging inventory. I imagine four more weeks of hard work before initiating a soft-launch, opening the store quietly while we get used to our point-of-sale system, tweaking the interiors and have our exterior sign completed.

Earlier this year I read a post about second-degree connections, and how they often are more supportive than your closest friends. During the course of building the e-commerce site as well as the brick-and-mortar store, we’ve found distant friends, and friends of friends to be among our most amazing supporters. To everyone who has visited the web site, and to our many customers who have purchased on our online store, please accept our sincere thanks.

In addition to spending time at the Legendary Alki Surf Shop, I’m continuing my graphic design business which is now in its 38th year, and I'll continue to offer social media consulting to individuals and businesses. Last week was a big week. Beside attending the Verizon Brand Influencer's Summit in San Francisco, I was named to Business Insider’s Top 100 Women in Tech on Twitter. (I can be found: @terrinakamura)

Alki Beach, in my opinion, is Seattle’s BEST beach. I hope you will stop by and visit when I’m there, working. As a social-media aficionado, there are few things more fun than pairing a real face with a moniker, and I’d welcome the chance to make your acquaintance.

Alki Beach
Across from our store, Alki Beach earlier this spring

You're invited to follow us on Twitter @alkisurfshop, like our Facebook page, or visit our blog!

POSTSCRIPT 20 July 2014:

Click the link for a virtual tour of the store in 360° — Tour

Image link for 360 Tour Alki Surf Shop

Alki Surf Shop — 2622 Alki Avenue SW — Seattle, WA 98116 — (206) 403-1901

*Thank you Verizon and @theonlinemom #vzwbuzz for the Samsung Galaxy 4 used to create our video and shoot photos for our website!


  1. ~≈~ Long May You Surf!! ~≈~

    1. Thanks, Mott. I appreciated your advice about the stickers. We're working on it. Cheers/Terri

  2. Sounds amazing! Good luck in your new adventure!

    1. Harold, thanks for the good wishes. We'll take them with us as we embark on our journey!


  3. Mahalo, Terri. You have a way with words, that I am envious of, and I've spent my career as a writer!

    1. Dear David,
      Thanks for the comment. I usually ask you to read my posts before they go live, but I just ran with this one. Glad you approve!
      It's going to be very exciting. We just need to get through the final push!
      Love, me

  4. Karen Padrick9:47 PM

    Good luck! Sounds amazing!

    1. Karen, thanks so much! And thanks for buying some shirts! I hope you come back to Seattle and can check it out! Love, Tink

  5. Anonymous7:49 AM

    You and David have done an amazing job on the space -- it's going to be beautiful... My admiration for all the hours you have both put in tearing things out, putting up walls, mudding, painting and more - that's not even getting into all the ad & graphics know-how -- your skills are endless! I love that you are setting out on a new adventure!
    --- Melissa (p.s. I have usually only put in 3 hrs on Saturdays, can't take credit for 7-8!)

    1. Dear Melissa,
      You're being entirely too modest. Because it's not just the time you spend there—you're shopping, making food and packing it and bringing it to share — plus the jewelry you're making for the store! I'm soooo excited!

      Thank you for being the best sister in the world!

      I love you!


  6. Anonymous3:51 PM

    CG -- Love the retro-cool song/video. Can't wait to visit. Good luck!

    1. Dear CG,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I'm excited to have you check it out and so happy you like the video!
      Now if we could just get it launched so there is time for us to have lunch. I still need to give you your birthday present!
      ((HUGS)) CG

  7. How exciting Terri! wishing you both the best of luck with it and looking forward to the finished photos :)

    1. XS, thanks so much for reading and for your comment! We are pretty excited about it, too, and each day as we cross off things from our "to-do" list, a dozen new things are added!

      Regarding photo(s): watch this space!

      Warm regards, Terri

  8. wish you guys the best of luck :)

    1. Sizar, my friend,

      Many thanks for your always supportive friendship.

      I'm grateful our paths crossed on GooglePlus. You are one of the people there I look forward to seeing and conversing with each day.

      Warm regards, Terri

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  10. so wonderful to have such a crew for launching this adventure Terri, my best wishes for Alki Surf Shop's success and much fun on this adventure!... YaY!

    1. Dear Jolie,
      Thanks from the bottom of my heart for your comment!
      This endeavor has been an amazing bonding experience for my family. The amount of energy and support they've given to me and my husband has been incredible!
      I hope this adventure is a fun one!
      Thank you for your friendship and support!

  11. This old California surfer girl needs to check out your surf shop! How fun and cool. I know it is a lot of work, but it will be worth the effort. I love seeing dreams come true!!! hugs

    1. Dear Lori,

      Absolutely! This beach is across the bay from where I took you and Chris to grab lunch before your cruise. We can see the cruise ships from the store!

      Today I was adding a second coat of clear to the storage/office space in back. It's been so much work, but when it's finished, I think it's going to be a fun place.

      You and I are really busy and need to catch up, but until then just know I miss you!

      ((HUGS)) Terri


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i'm a graphic designer who loves words. - terri nakamura