The lack of local shapers in the Northeast pretty much guarantees that you'll have to buy stock boards off the rack at some point. But I've figured out some options that work for me. I do still order custom hand-shaped boards from local shapers, but when it comes to buying a stock board there's only a few places worth going. Believe it or not, my go-to board shop at the moment isn't even in the Northeast. It's the Real Board Loft at REAL Watersports in Outer Banks, NC. With a gigantic selection and video reviews, you can shop an impressive online inventory without being hassled by a salesman. I've bought multiple boards from them, and they all came with no surprises, and what I was expecting.
One advantage to buying a mass-produced stock board is there is more reliable data that can be gathered. No more are the days where you buy the same board, same dimensions, and it rides completely different. The guess work of what makes a particular board work better than another is a bit more clear when you know a machine is scooping out that foam the exact same way every time. So when a board model says this board is made for this or that, you can depend on that a little more. Which brings me the the best part of the REAL Board Loft... the video reviews. Using the reliability of the mass-produced surfboard model, REAL breaks them down and gives an actual review of how they perform. I find them to be extremely accurate, reliable, and informative.
The video reviews are hosted by REAL Watersports owner Trip Forman, who is an experienced surfer himself. He explains what makes a board work. I also like that he's slightly oversized for a surfer, above 6 feet and pushing 200 lbs. Just like me. Below I posted the REAL reviews for some of my favorite sticks from Lost Surfboard shaper Matt Biolos. Another bonus is that most of the video reviews have a ton of user comments from which you can glean additional information.
One last thing I'd like to mention is the excellent customer service that I always receive from REAL Watersports. All of my boards have arrived in perfect condition, packed meticulously and carefully to avoid any dings. They are excellent at communicating with customers, going to great efforts to make sure I'm happy. One time, I needed a board shipped to arrive on a specific day, in a 3-day window between summer surf trips. At no extra cost to me REAL worked with FedEx to ensure it's timely arrival and I was off to Costa Rica with my brand new stick. Then recently I really tested their customer service policies. I had purchased a new Christensen Bandito in January only to find them running a store-wide sale for 10% off 2 days later. So I sent them an email asking for them to apply that discount to my purchase, even though technically I bought it before the sale fair and square. Within hours I had a positive response and a REAL store credit.
So I can't say enough about this board shop. Especially if you're into Matt Biolos Lost shapes. REAL Watersports might be the raddest Lost retailer on the east coast. So give them a look the next time you're in the market. And If you're ever in the Outer Banks area of North Carolina, check them out pretty close to the lighthouse.
Honorable Mention Northeast Surf Shops
- Warm Winds Surf Shop, Narragansett, RI - Big board and gear selection, friendly staff
- Noreaster Surf Shop, Scituate, MA - Good for winter rubber and skate supplies, not always open
- Vec Surf Shop, Cape Cod, MA - Solid shaper for custom orders, super small, not a lot of supplies
New Masked Intruder album out next month... Review to follow.