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By Jake Howard
There’s a lot to be said for keeping the business of surfing in the hands of surfers. Everything just kind of works out better when the lunatics are allowed to run the asylum. Before the financial upheaval of 2008, the surf industry had grown bloated and oversized. It was promptly humbled; hundreds lost their jobs and “brick and mortar” surf shops were particularly hard hit as the downward trend coincided with a mass influx of online sales. But in recent years, as the business of wave riding has bounced back, it’s become abundantly clear that staying small and nimble has its advantages.
Enter Killer Dana Surf Shop in Dana Point. Last week, the original owners, Gary Wright, Chris “Ralphie” Andrews and Steve “Lounge” Price, took back ownership of their hallowed retail space.
“It’s just a grassroots, locally owned surf shop—just like when we started almost 30 years ago,” said Ralphie.
Wright originally opened Killer Dana in 1991 with $11,500 that he scraped together through saving, unloading a used car and a small bank loan. The first shop was about 800 square feet, had about 20 new boards on the rack, one case of surf wax and some miscellaneous clothes and accessories. Ralphie—who’d worked with Wright at the Chart House—joined Killer Dana about a year later. Price was added to the roster in 1996 to help with mail and new online orders.
At its height, Killer Dana had additional shops in San Clemente and Lake Forest. Those have been shuttered as Wright and company are excited to focus solely on the town that’s already given them all so much.
“We’re the new old owners, I guess that’s a good way to put it,” laughed Ralphie. “With all of the renovation going on in Dana Point and all of the growth in the area, we’re really excited to be jumping back into this on our terms.”