• #BillabongCore - Aqua East

Aqua East has been here since 1973 just like us. They are the epitome of #BillabongCore in the state of Florida, and are known as a premier retailer all over the world. What started as an obsession for founder Sandy Forsyth has turned into a thriving family owned business that is what the ideal, core surf shop is all about. Next time you're in Neptune Beach or St. Augustine Beach stop on by and grab some gear!

Who or what inspired you to start your retail business?

Sandy Forsyth, our father, started Aqua East. He purchased his first board at JCPenny’s and was hooked. He started shaping his own boards in his parent’s garage as a teenager and opened Aqua East at the age of 19. He passed away in 2005, but Aqua East continues to thrive as a family owned and operated shop in his memory.

How long have you been in business?

April 1, 2017 marked 44 years for the Neptune Beach location. The St. Augustine Beach location is going on 18 years.

Sum up your staff in a few sentences.

We believe we have the best of the best in the surf industry. They live the beach/surf lifestyle and welcome newcomers to enjoy it as well. We have a great core group that have become like family and keep the shops thriving.

What’s your favorite part about being in this industry?

We were born and raised in this industry, from going on surf trips with our dad to following him around at surf expos for the freebies. It doesn’t hurt that the board meetings consist of surfboards instead of suits and ties.

What’s the biggest challenge you face on a regular basis?

Getting our employees to show up when there is a swell!

Tell us about local events you host?

We love our community and love to host family friendly free events as often as possible, from movies on our lawn, surf camp pizza parties, annual grom surf contests, and paddleboard demo days and contests. This year we are excited to be partnering up with the ABPD to host a “Surfing with Police” beach day with free surf lessons.

What makes your store/shop unique to others?

Our knowledgeable staff and huge selection. We cater to surfers, skaters, body boarders, kayakers, paddle boarders, and snowboarders, from beginners to experts.

What is the funniest incident that’s ever taken place in your shop?

Not sure how we could just name one. From our daily goal of scaring each other, to the dead rat smell mystery of 2015, to the mayonnaise filled donuts on April Fools, our staff has a great sense of humor.

Thanks to the team at Aqua East for their time! Be sure to follow them at @aquaeastsurfshop to see what's new with their shops.