Aussie Island Surf Shop on Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
Aussie Island Surf Shop is situated right in the heart of the Wrightsville Beach Loop and can be found at the enviable street address of 1 Lumina Street. The newest surf shop on the Beach is no stranger to the surf industry and has come a long way from its humble beginnings as the first surf shop in Raleigh back in the 80s. In fact, the Lassiter family set up shop in Raleigh more than 20 years before anyone else recognized the need. We were interested in the path that led them to greatness and so we sat down with the owner Dean Lassiter and manager Chris Jackson, who are two of the most considerate surfers we have had the pleasure of knowing.
Both Chris and Dean attended CFCC but had their eyes set on the coast from day one. The two go way back and went to Millbrook High School together in Raleigh, spending summers and as much time as they could in Wrightsville Beach looking for surf. The transition was a natural one and upon graduation the two decided to open a surf shop in Wilmington the support of Dean’s father. Dean’s older brother Jim was initially a partner in the business but left to pursue a career in medical device implementation. Incidentally, I worked frequently with him during my surgical career and can tell you that all of these guys were raised right. You’ll have a hard time finding anyone who could say anything negative about them. At their core, Aussie Island is a family run business that strives to conduct business in a family friendly way. In fact, these guys are all about family
The original Wilmington Aussie Island store opened in 1989 in Landfall Center and enjoyed a long, fruitful stay until the move in 2006 to their current location at 5101 Dunlea Court just off Market Street in Wilmington. While the Wilmington store remains their flagship location, the two longed to have a second shop on the beach they grew up on and loved. They got their chance in 2011 when they opened up in prime time on the corner of Stone Street and Lumina Avenue on the Loop. In total, they have been in business in New Hanover County for 24 years, so look for a big celebration next year when they turn 25!
When I asked Chris and Dean what they were most proud of about the shop, their answer wasn’t what you might guess: Over the past 24 years, they have had over one hundred school-aged employees. Under their watchful eyes, many of their employees have gone on to become community leaders. The two cite the joy they have experienced from watching young, clumsy, pimple-faced boys and girls mature into doctors, dentists, lawyers, military leaders (including a Navy Seal), educators and parents. The shop does feel like family as much as it does a museum of surfing and the two have always formally focused on thematuration and development of their employees.
The flagship store on Dunlea is like a museum of surfing history with countless classic boards suspended from the rafters, reflecting their love and knowledge of the sport. I want every one and never tire of looking over the vast collection. Obviously, they have all of the latest and greatest items you want and need to foster your own surfing career too. You can usually catch Chris at the town shop and Dean at the beach shop, unless it’s Wednesday when the two get together at the beach shop for what looks far more like fun than work to me.
When they’re not on duty the two love spending time with their own families. Chris’ wife Kristin is the principal of a local alternative school, Lake Forest Academy. They have one son, Tyson who is eleven. Dean, or Dean-O as some of the old school guys refer to him, has three children, Evan (14), Julia (8) and Smith, a six month old that his wife Adrian devotes nearly all of her time to.
As a parting shot I asked the two longtime friends to describe in their own words what their mission was. The knee jerk answer was that they, “ love hooking up families when they come to our Beach.” It might sound cliché but they really mean it. That hooking up frequently takes the form of providing both locals and tourists with the tools they need to maximize their experience in Wrightsville Beach. The Beach shop has bikes, paddleboards and surfboards and all the related accessories for rent and they are limited only by the amount of space they have to keep the equipment in. Instruction is available for all skill levels too.
We have always been impressed by the kindness and consideration the Shop gives to everyone who comes in. The shop definitely qualifies for the Loop Seal of Approval-which only goes to the finest merchants on the Loop. Stop in and say howzit if you get the chance. We guarantee a positive experience but be warned, you might end up hanging out longer than you planned, especially if Dean is in…See you there.