Shawn Mett, owner of Island Surf in Westhampton Beach believes that after fourteen years of sweat, tears and grinding, he has realized "the American Dream, taking his passion for surf and manifesting it to a level where it has become its own life; an entity, which had always been his goal.
Mett, who moved to the Hamptons in 1988 from Glen Falls, New York, to attend Southampton College and study marine biology, wasn't always selling surf boards — Prior to his surf shop-career, he worked in pharmaceutical sales and the mortgage industry. An unappreciative boss and becoming tired of making money for other people, Mett said he decided to followed his entrepreneurial spirit and pave his own way.
“The day I quit," he said, "I felt a freedom that was unexplainable. My mind could not stop processing all the possibilities,."
In 1998, inspired by his passion for business and love of the ocean, Mett opened his first store, Island Surf, in a back alley of Westhampton Beach.
Mett says his first year of his store was a ground breaking experience as there were no other surf shops around the area — It led him to open other stores.
In 1999, he opened Island Surf on Main Street in Sag Harbor, which he later sold and in 2010, he opened the Island Surf Super Store at 49 Sunset Avenue in Westhampton Beach.
“Sunset Avenue is the future of the town. It is the center of the village in so many ways," he said. "My job is to pioneer retail on Sunset and show our town shopping can be great off Main too.”
Self-described as tenacious, with a general passion for people and socializing every day, Mett says he enjoys surfing, paddle boarding, Jujitsu and most of all being a daddy. He also says that each day he looks forward to opening his store.
“It sounds egotistical, but when you are in business fourteen years and push as hard as me, it’s going to be inevitable. We are on a rocket ship to the moon,” he said.
Mett says it never gets old when he hears somebody say, "I love that shop."
"When I see an Island Surf sticker on someone's car, it makes me smile and feel like I've accomplished something far beyond any financial goal I could reach. The Dream is now attained,” he said.
Mett says he is blessed that despite the economy, his store, which has 150 surfboards and 60 paddleboards in stock, has prevailed. He attributes his success to customer service, his philosophy of keeping the store fresh and also because his products are ‘just plain fun.’
Mett says that every year, a business must make a transformation of sorts; sometimes drastic, sometimes subtle, but that, “You must give your clientele a reason to come back and you never want to be the same as the last year.”
"Humans need change and freshness for stimulation," he said, "Retail is no different.”
For example, this season, Mett will be offering a stand up paddleboard yoga instructor, Go pro cameras, sunglasses by Tom Ford, RayBan, Oakley, Maui Jim, SALT, Arnette, and Smith, and Toms, Havaianas, Rainbow sandals for men, women and children.
He also keeps his website up to date, with a streaming camera and full surf report including winds, tides, air and water temperatures.
And, he says he will be holding events like free stand up paddleboard demos and a Sector-9 Skate Jam.
“You don't need anything in my store to live; not like a grocery store or pharmacy, but people can't say no to fun; it's just in our DNA. If the Bears or the Bulls are winning, I don't care. The surf is up and the beach is beautiful today despite any economy, that's what we believe at Island Surf.”
Following the words of Mark Twain, Mett deems it important to “Make your vacation your vocation.” He feels that this will bring you success every time.