I met up with Mike Jones, owner of AZHIAZIAM Skate and Surf Shop when I visited the notorious Jonny Miller up in Morro Bay. As you will soon discover, Mike has parlayed a terrific name into a retailing success story.
You have a pretty cool background – a surfer who went into the Navy. You wind up in Japan as a biological warfare specialist. How do the two relate?
Coming from a long line of veterans in our family, I decided I would like to serve also, so I figured the Navy would be the best choice, being a surfer and wanting to travel the World and catch waves. It was a four year surf trip, where I worked very hard for months at a time, then I would find myself in some far off land surfing obscure waves in the middle of now where. I was very lucky that I was able to bring my surf and skateboards everywhere we went.
How did your shop come about?
I never planned on having a shop, I started making AZHIAZIAM stickers, then people started asking for shirts and hats, so I made shirts and hats. After about a year of selling the stuff out of my van and bedroom (people would actually come to my house and shop in my bedroom, I had a couple racks of clothes that I screen printed all of the clothes in my bedroom also.) Over time it started getting weird, people I didn’t know showing up asking to buy stuff, sometimes late at night and randomly during the day. I realized I needed an actual spot to sell the stuff so I could have my privacy back.
We know that Moro Bay has an incredible skateboard museum and is the near the home of Jonny Miller. What else is cooking in your town?
The hills and the waves! We have a ton of good surf here and a couple of really fun hills the local guys like to bomb. Other than than, great skate parks all around, Los Osos, Cayucos and San Luis Obispo all have insane places to skate.
Online shopping is continuously growing and its impacting many shops. What do you feel independent board shops need to get customers excited?
Keep it fresh and original, if you are buying the same brands that everyone carries online, your piece of the pie is small. If you have a cool local brand in your area, try to snag it and pump it up!