During the event Jack O’Neill is interviewed about the early beginnings of the O’Neill brand. He couldn’t imagine in the beginning what O’Neill would become, and who could?! If I started a small surf shop in Santa Cruz I surely wouldn’t expect it to become a globally recognized surf brand. It’s a pretty amazing story, and one that still needs to have chapters revealed. How did O’Neill make the jump from a surf shop to what it is today? For now we’ll just have to rely on the Wikipedia Article. Check out the video interview of Jack O’Neill below during the event.
The Plaque reads:
In 1959 Jack O’Neill came with his family to Santa Cruz and opened his 500 square foot “Surf Shop” at his location just above Cowell Beach. The surf shop was O’Neill’s first retail store in Santa Cruz, offering custom built foam surfboards and “thermal barrier” suits, as wetsuits were known at the time.
O’Neill’s surf shop became a focal point for a tight-knit surf community. The business grew steadily, earning recognition as a pioneer and leader in the world of surfing. In 1996 O’Neill extended his vision by founding the O’Neill Sea Odyssey, an award-winning ocean education program for kids.
On May 31, 2012, the site of Jack O’Neill’s Santa Cruz Surf Shop was designated by the state of California as a point of historical interest. Recognizing the local origins of an innovative global business as well as a place where parents continue to bring children for a day at the beach.
“In the beginning the name of the business was just Surf Shop. We were the first to use the name, and later got it registered. Nobody in the world called themselves Surf Shop before us.”
– Jack O’Neill