Best Ever: TK's Story Part 2, California

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When we last left off, Froghouse owner TK Brimer had just moved with his family from Florida to California….

We moved into my uncle’s house for a temporary stay at a big house right at the end of Van Nuys Blvd. in Van Nuys. So we moved in there temporarily while we looked for a housing in the Huntington Beach area. My first trip to the beach was out to Santa Monica, and I looked at it, and there was a little bit of waves breaking, and I went down to feel the water and I was just shocked at the temperature. I think I first tried to surf there in Malibu and there were rocks on the bottom, and I didn’t like that. What I didn’t like most was that I was alone. I didn’t have anybody to surf with. I was lonely, cold and not excited about a rocky bottom. And it tested my resolve to be a surfer. Luckily we were only in that Van Nuys area for two to three weeks and we moved down to Huntington.

I enrolled in Huntington Beach high school during the second semester of my senior year. I was scared shitless. It was overpowering, all these people. The first day there I was standing on the front lawn smoking a cigarette and some big adult guy came up and grabbed me by the neck and said, “OK, ya little twerp, you’re coming with me!” and I was like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, what’s going on??” He drug me into the Dean’s admin office and paddled me for smoking. So first lesson: You can’t smoke at Huntington high school. It was scary, lonesome, and a situation arrived where I was traveling to school with my sister, she was a knockout, and during breaks and lunch, we’d sit together and eat. Well a couple weeks into it, I heard a couple guys talking about that "dorky guy with a Florida accent … what a dork that guy is, but he’s got game. He’s hooked up with a hot chick right away!" I’m laughing, thinking, that’s how we do it in Florida: we date our sisters! I thought that was funny.

I met a couple guys who were surfers, one of them was Charlie Ray. He was a team rider for The Froghouse. Now the Froghouse had been operating since 1962, it was already 1967, so it had been in business for five years. Back then the shop only sold used boards and a lot of stickers and that’s it. It was all hard goods. He dragged me down to the Froghouse one day and introduced me to Frank Jenson who owned the place. I walked in the front door and was just awestruck at the authenticity of a California surf shop. It was kind of an epiphany: I went, “Dude, this is my place. I like this place.” I started immediately selling stuff to people who walked through the front door. I wasn’t on the payroll but I helped out, I'd sell ‘em a surfboard and walk ‘em up to the counter. I kept doing that for a week or two, and Frank finally asked me if I wanted to work in there on Saturdays. I went, “Yeah I do!” and I started working there on that next Saturday which turned into some additional days. I wasn’t their first employee. There were some guys who had been working there before me, but I was working my way into the organization.

About a year later in 1968 we started Patrillo Surfboards and it went good for about three or four years, and we were selling a lot of units, and we even opened up a second location of Froghouse in Hermosa Beach, trying to expand out selling surfboards, but that store only lasted a year. It didn’t pan out. But things were going great. Frank Patrillo opened up a glass shop in Costa Mesa to increase his net so he didn’t have to pay anyone to glass the boards. We had Mike Purpus riding the boards, we had Drew Harrison, Tiger Espere for a little while. But we bought some well-known names to do some advertising and promote and things were going well. It turned into a dark spot, because the original agreement was that Patrillo manufactures the boards and we retail ‘em. Well, Patrillo started selling some boards out of his glass shop, under cutting the Froghouse, and Frank Jenson and Patrillo ended their relationship. The very next day we started Small Faces Surfboards. We called it ‘Small Faces’ because we were thinking the problem with Patrillo was that his name was on the boards and he was thinking he might be bigger than the glasser or the guys selling them. But we changed that, going, “Hey we’re a bunch of small faces making these boards!” And we made Small Faces for quite a few years and that was very successful.

I had been working at the Froghouse since 1967 but you don’t make very much money working behind the counter at a surf shop, you’re doing it for the love. And it’s the same today. You’re doing it for the love. I was also working at that time as a school bus driver for Marina High School. I would work the early runs then come here to the Froghouse the rest of the day, and take a couple hours off in the afternoon to go drive the bus. While I was driving the bus one day I met and fell in love with my high school sweetheart bus rider, Linda. I drove the bus, she rode on the bus. So I married my sweetheart off the high school bus which was pretty scandalous at the time but this year we’re enjoying our 41st year of marriage. It’s all been good. I love my high school bus riding sweetheart. I was 21 and she was 16 at the time. She and I were married and we were fiddling around with the thoughts of having kids.

I came to the Froghouse owner Frank Jenson and told him I was thinking about raising a family and told him I can’t make enough money sitting behind the counter, how about you sell me the Froghouse? I’d been running the place for five years anyway without any of his input. And he said “it’s not for sale!” And I went, well, if I can’t buy this, I’m gonna open up my own surf shop. He taught me a lot about ruthlessness, and I told him if I can open up a shop next door, I’ll do that, cause the people have been coming in here seeing me as the manager and I might be able to take some of them to my new location. So I went looking for new locations…. And I finally was ready to sign a lease in Sunset Beach, and I came back to Jenson and told him, hey, I’m signing a lease the next couple days and once I sign the lease, my offer to buy this business is out. And so he got serious and we got to talking about buying this place ….

(To be continued!)


Posted by: Ghetto JuiceGhetto Juice at: 20 Aug 2014 15:37




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When we last left off, Froghouse owner TK Brimer had just moved with his family from Florida to California….

We moved into my uncle’s house for a temporary stay at a big house right at the end of Van Nuys Blvd. in Van Nuys. So we moved in there temporarily while we looked for a housing in the Huntington Beach area. My first trip to the beach was out to Santa Monica, and I looked at it, and there was a little bit of waves breaking, and I went down to feel the water and I was just shocked at the temperature. I think I first tried to surf there in Malibu and there were rocks on the bottom, and I didn’t like that. What I didn’t like most was that I was alone. I didn’t have anybody to surf with. I was lonely, cold and not excited about a rocky bottom. And it tested my resolve to be a surfer. Luckily we were only in that Van Nuys area for two to three weeks and we moved down to Huntington.

I enrolled in Huntington Beach high school during the second semester of my senior year. I was scared shitless. It was overpowering, all these people. The first day there I was standing on the front lawn smoking a cigarette and some big adult guy came up and grabbed me by the neck and said, “OK, ya little twerp, you’re coming with me!” and I was like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, what’s going on??” He drug me into the Dean’s admin office and paddled me for smoking. So first lesson: You can’t smoke at Huntington high school. It was scary, lonesome, and a situation arrived where I was traveling to school with my sister, she was a knockout, and during breaks and lunch, we’d sit together and eat. Well a couple weeks into it, I heard a couple guys talking about that "dorky guy with a Florida accent … what a dork that guy is, but he’s got game. He’s hooked up with a hot chick right away!" I’m laughing, thinking, that’s how we do it in Florida: we date our sisters! I thought that was funny.

I met a couple guys who were surfers, one of them was Charlie Ray. He was a team rider for The Froghouse. Now the Froghouse had been operating since 1962, it was already 1967, so it had been in business for five years. Back then the shop only sold used boards and a lot of stickers and that’s it. It was all hard goods. He dragged me down to the Froghouse one day and introduced me to Frank Jenson who owned the place. I walked in the front door and was just awestruck at the authenticity of a California surf shop. It was kind of an epiphany: I went, “Dude, this is my place. I like this place.” I started immediately selling stuff to people who walked through the front door. I wasn’t on the payroll but I helped out, I'd sell ‘em a surfboard and walk ‘em up to the counter. I kept doing that for a week or two, and Frank finally asked me if I wanted to work in there on Saturdays. I went, “Yeah I do!” and I started working there on that next Saturday which turned into some additional days. I wasn’t their first employee. There were some guys who had been working there before me, but I was working my way into the organization.

About a year later in 1968 we started Patrillo Surfboards and it went good for about three or four years, and we were selling a lot of units, and we even opened up a second location of Froghouse in Hermosa Beach, trying to expand out selling surfboards, but that store only lasted a year. It didn’t pan out. But things were going great. Frank Patrillo opened up a glass shop in Costa Mesa to increase his net so he didn’t have to pay anyone to glass the boards. We had Mike Purpus riding the boards, we had Drew Harrison, Tiger Espere for a little while. But we bought some well-known names to do some advertising and promote and things were going well. It turned into a dark spot, because the original agreement was that Patrillo manufactures the boards and we retail ‘em. Well, Patrillo started selling some boards out of his glass shop, under cutting the Froghouse, and Frank Jenson and Patrillo ended their relationship. The very next day we started Small Faces Surfboards. We called it ‘Small Faces’ because we were thinking the problem with Patrillo was that his name was on the boards and he was thinking he might be bigger than the glasser or the guys selling them. But we changed that, going, “Hey we’re a bunch of small faces making these boards!” And we made Small Faces for quite a few years and that was very successful.

I had been working at the Froghouse since 1967 but you don’t make very much money working behind the counter at a surf shop, you’re doing it for the love. And it’s the same today. You’re doing it for the love. I was also working at that time as a school bus driver for Marina High School. I would work the early runs then come here to the Froghouse the rest of the day, and take a couple hours off in the afternoon to go drive the bus. While I was driving the bus one day I met and fell in love with my high school sweetheart bus rider, Linda. I drove the bus, she rode on the bus. So I married my sweetheart off the high school bus which was pretty scandalous at the time but this year we’re enjoying our 41st year of marriage. It’s all been good. I love my high school bus riding sweetheart. I was 21 and she was 16 at the time. She and I were married and we were fiddling around with the thoughts of having kids.

I came to the Froghouse owner Frank Jenson and told him I was thinking about raising a family and told him I can’t make enough money sitting behind the counter, how about you sell me the Froghouse? I’d been running the place for five years anyway without any of his input. And he said “it’s not for sale!” And I went, well, if I can’t buy this, I’m gonna open up my own surf shop. He taught me a lot about ruthlessness, and I told him if I can open up a shop next door, I’ll do that, cause the people have been coming in here seeing me as the manager and I might be able to take some of them to my new location. So I went looking for new locations…. And I finally was ready to sign a lease in Sunset Beach, and I came back to Jenson and told him, hey, I’m signing a lease the next couple days and once I sign the lease, my offer to buy this business is out. And so he got serious and we got to talking about buying this place ….

(To be continued!)

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