Meet our local legend Ross, from Soul Boardstore!

Scarborough’s Soul Boardstore celebrates its 25th birthday this November, so we had a yarn with Ross, one of the Westcoast’s finest shapers in the business! Learn how Soul Board Store started, what inspires Ross the most and get to know our favourite local legend below.

Plus, we’re stoked to announce that Ross will be joining us this salty season in our Shapers Bay! Watch him in action, shaping and come say hi!

So, how was the idea for Soul Boardstore born?

I started longboarding in the mid nineties and it wasn’t as busy, was more of a niche thing than it is now. It was a nice thing that I wanted to be involved in. A guess the inspiration was the old American longboard mag, when magazines were still a thing, I’d look forward to getting that copy every couple of months or whatever it might have been. Seemed like a really nice world and something to be part of.

Not growing in the industry, working in board factories and such, I was almost an unknown to everyone. I had so many people saying “what are you doing that for?” and you know “that’ll never work” and in hindsight they were probably right, but I’ve been in business coming up 25 years so perhaps they were wrong.

Now it’s almost gone full circle with the younger generations getting into the long boarding and more of the ethos of it perhaps than it was the last 10 years or so. There’s also so many girls getting into it so it feels really inclusive. It’s like those little hard-core surfing groups are almost a minority now and there’s such a family. Still Still doesn’t mean anyone will give a wave to anyone, but the kooks and the beginners are as valid out on the water as the guys who’ve been surfing for 30 years.

What inspires you most when shaping?

I try to interpret everyone’s story when they come in, you know they’re all chasing a different thing, whether it’s to surf a particular sort of wave, or a particular style, you know. All the styles have their own thing, high performance is really cool, longing is really cool, so I don’t leave any of them out. I’m sort of a believer in the natural beauty of things, so it’s nice to aim to have something balanced and clean. I do a bit of everything. I’m not a high performance shortboard shaper, but I do a bit of mid lengths and mid sizes; basically, anything alternative to a shortboard I suppose.

”I try to interpret everyone’s story when they come in, you know they’re all chasing a different thing, whether it’s to surf a particular sort of wave, or a particular style, you know”.

How do you keep motivated when life throws you curveballs?

If I feel like I’m working too much just getting away and having a surf. At the moment I feel like I’m doing six or seven days a week, so it’s hard. But some of the nicest surfing is just spending 25 minutes down at the beachfront here, particularly those days where there’s not too much wind and I’m just chatting to a few dudes on the water and get like 20 minutes, then I’m away. By necessity the last few years I’ve been a morning person, but my ultimate preference are the afternoons where there’s no wind, but you don’t get so many of them in Perth and with the family and all that I don’t get the evenings so much. A nice beautiful glassy evening is like perfect, but I’ll take a morning one.

What does daily life look like and how did you make your passion a business?

In the early days it was just simple naivety, I thought “oh yeah that’s cool, I’ll do it” and I did it. But if I had to sit down and do all the numbers, I probably wouldn’t have done it. But that plain naivety of “I’ll just start a business” probably stood me in good stead. But yeah, I think my days are pretty good, you take it for granted after a while. Back in the early days I used to work a couple of days a week doing other jobs and things, and I was so looking forward to getting back into my little shop. But now I’m working here all the time and there’s so much to running a business, much more than meets the eye. Somedays I think I wouldn’t mind just having a job digging holes for someone and going home, but I reckon I might give up that idea pretty quickly.

Tell us some important lessons you’ve learnt about running a local business here in Scarbs

Rightly or wrongly I kind of end up doing things for a price and a quality that I would like for myself. So when I think “what would I like to pay for a board repair” and I’ll do it for that, unfortunately none of the bills work in that system. I’m pretty honest and straight up, so much so that some might see me as the grumpy guy, but I’m just honest and don’t try and oversell things.

Yeah I guess one lesson that never goes astray is don’t promise more than you deliver, but deliver more than you promise. Some people don’t want to hear that, they come in with some beaten up board and I straight up tell them it’s time to throw it in the bin, but you know I’m not going to tell them I’m going to make their board a beautiful thing again.

What does the future hold for the business?

I can’t predict anymore. You know the predictions I’ve made in the last five to six months during coronavirus have all been totally wrong so I’ve given up haha! But I think in the retail side there’s probably a need to do more than just unpack a box and get people to buy it. It’s always been a bit of a lifestyle thing here, trying to include people and sell them the dream a bit.

But I guess what’s been in the pipeline are a few events. We’ve got this great courtyard out the front which I don’t really get as much use out of as I should. I had a couple of things planned, but they fell away during Covid. I’m not into doing big music gigs and things like that so much, but just some little events. There’s people right into it like board collectors and shapers, and so planning to do a little bit more about that.

One of the best things about business in Scarborough is being part of the community and just being recognised. Like just being down at the beach and chatting to like 10 people or whatever it may be, before I get to the beachfront. Which to me is an important thing, you know that little bit of recognition that you are someone and you’re connected.

Summer x Salt also embodies this, it’s more than just going and buying things, it’s about the community, chatting to people and sharing an hour or two connected with people.

Catch Ross and all his shaping action down at the Summer x Salt Markets this summer in the shapers bay tent! Kicking off Saturday November 7th, 9am – 1pm. Clarko Reserve Trigg!

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