This story is part of a series we are presenting about how local Santa Cruz businesses faced challenges of the last couple years with strength and perseverance. From the COVID pandemic shutdown which began in March 2020, to the CZU fires of August 2020, to the continuing pandemic rollercoaster in 2021, our community members have proven their resiliency.
Capitola Beach Company has two locations: a retail shop on Monterey Avenue and a Surf and Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) rental and lesson business in Esplanade Park. The shop has lots of surf apparel plus accessories (think beach bags, sunglasses, etc.), gifts, cards, jewelry, and more. Husband and wife Matt and Jill Arthur, owners of Capitola Beach Co., play key roles at the business. Among other responsibilities, Jill manages the shop and Matt runs the surf rental/lesson business—doing surf instruction and much more.
Origin and Evolution
The SUP and surf lesson/rental part of Capitola Beach Co. opened in 2004. The store opened the following year and has grown significantly since 2005. “Our shop business started with our shop T-shirts, hoodies and just a handful of surf brands,” says Matt. “We’ve evolved into a beach boutique offering something for the entire family. We stock the major surf brands and all their best styles.”
The rental and lesson side of the business started with surf lessons and beach rentals (soft surfboards, wetsuits, boogie boards, beach chairs and umbrellas) in 2004. “We added SUP rentals the following year,” shares Matt. “Our business has definitely matured throughout the years. What I’d say we’re most proud of is the amount of ocean safety and education we also provide. As a former city and state beach lifeguard the safety and wellbeing of our customers is a top priority.”
Giving Back to Capitola
In 2017, the Arthurs launched “Keep Capitola Salty,” which is both a movement and a brand. “The ethos of Keep Capitola Salty is that it is a grassroots movement dedicated to responsible efforts helping to maintain and preserve the environment, scenic beauty, and coastal recreational activities of Capitola,” explains Matt, who created KCS’ logo and slogan. Capitola Beach Co. donates 10 percent of proceeds from the sale of KCS products (hoodies, short and long-sleeve T-shirts, caps, and beanies) back into Capitola Village. “For example, we recently partnered with the Capitola Public Safety and Community Service Foundation to fund the first water bottle refilling station located in Esplanade Park next to the public restrooms. This was delayed about a year and a half due to COVID. Our goal is to continue making a positive impact in Capitola.”
“We faced a lot of similar challenges like every business did in 2020,” says Jill. One change they made during shelter in place was pivoting to focus more on online sales. “We enhanced our website and online business with some of our shop logo items, as online provides our customers easy access to their favorite items.”
The biggest challenge still occurring today, she says, is probably “the hiccups in the supply chain…receiving product has been a challenge and we have adjusted to the way we procure product.”
In spite of obstacles, Capitola Beach Co. has not only survived the pandemic, but has drawn many new customers including those who decided to learn how to surf for the first time. “We persevered and emerged with deeper gratitude that we get to work and live in beautiful Capitola,” says Jill.
Jill and Matt truly appreciate their return customers too. “What really was heartwarming to us was all the support from our wonderful customers as we reopened,” says Matt. “Customers came back to Capitola and said how happy they were to see us, and see their favorite store open again. That meant everything to us. We have some of the greatest, most loyal customers.”
One local family was especially concerned about getting Capitola Beach Co. re-opened during the pandemic, and they donated PPE (personal protective equipment). “This enabled us to reopen safely for our customers,” says Matt. “We have been blessed to receive so much support from our family, friends, and our customers,” adds Jill.