You’re a small business. You serve a community. You want to appeal to the community. So you find themes that the community identifies with — in Santa Cruz, that’s the ocean and surfing — and ride that curl all the way to the shallows.
Which is why Santa Cruz businesses that have little to do with the ocean, are all about the ocean. At least on their t-shirts. Like this one:
Charlie Hong Kong is a glorified food stand serving affordable bowls of organic, stir-fried vegetarian food that resembles Chinese street food. Think “converted hot dog stand with a closed-in patio,” if you want the specifics.
But with that killer peanut sauce of theirs, CHK is as close as this town comes to organic trucker food with fresh veggies. The neighborhood eats there. Cops eat there. Bring the kids; the floor is concrete.
So: the Buddha in a Hawaiian shirt wearing sunglasses, on a surf board, holding a skillet in one hand and chop sticks in the other? This is probably the most “Santa Cruz” t-shirt I’ve ever seen, and you can make of that what you will.
If I traveled the galaxy, I doubt that I’d ever find a planet where an 8-ball sun casts rays of black light on the rolling surf. But if you’re into pool, you may already live there.
Fast Eddy’s is a large pool hall about two blocks from Pleasure Point, home to famous surf breaks. Some of those surfers must certainly like a game of pool and a pint of beer from time to time.
I personally have never seen a Volvo wagon with a surfboard tied to the top; not at the beach, not anywhere else. And certainly not a well-restored old-school Model 120 series Volvo from the ’60s. I mean, it’s not even a woody. But Specialized fixes a lot of Volvos, and that’s the point.
Dunlap’s Donuts does have a connection to the surf, in that it feeds a lot of surfers. Drive down Portola through Pleasure Point on a weekend morning and you might find 40 or 50 surfers hanging out in the parking lot (I have) after several hours in the cold, cold water and a couple of thousand calories burned. Dunlap’s, home of oversized, deep-fried pastries, gives them what they want.
A two-pound maple bar? DONE! A cro-nut as big as your head? YESSIR, JUST THE ONE? And of course a big, big cup of steaming coffee.
In these days of integrated circuits, vacuum tubes are still a thing.
Consider the magnetron tube in your microwave oven. California Tube Labs manufactured their big brothers: great, big, high-powered magnetrons for use in commercial and military radar, food processing, and many industrial processes.
Microwaves, ocean waves: physics tells us that they are equally waves, only of different types. So, I get it.
CTL was around for a good long while till its latest corporate owner tried to move the whole operation back east. Nobody agreed to come. The operation shut down, and all the experience walked out the door. The parent company packed up the intellectual property and wandered off. I wish I could say that this was a rare occurance.
Surfing a Chevy Corvette is ill-advised, but take the metaphor. And remember, it’s SANTA CRUZ.
There’s nothing ocean-specific about a liquor store a mile inland. But this one did hire Jimbo Phillips, local surf/skate/music/commercial artist of some note, to create their t-shirt design. Phillips didn’t sign the illustration — he often does — but I’d know a Jimbo wave anywhere. The tell is in those big ribs drawn at intervals on the curl.
All that you can view from Ocean View Card Room is the parking lot across the street. About a block south, there’s a hill. The ocean’s on the other side.
Of all these t-shirts, only this one eschews metaphor. That brick lighthouse houses the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum. It overlooks the famous surf break at Steamer Lane in West Side Santa Cruz.
Especially note the solar panel array on the museum roof. Because local solar enery installer Sandbar Solar both donated and installed that array. It provides 80 percent of the energy that the museum requires.
Self promotion? Why not, and for a worthy cause. Worthy of a t-shirt? Absolutely. And yes, it’s another Jimbo Phillips design. Check the waves.