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7th Street Surf Shops

720 Asbury Ave, Ocean City, NJ 08226  (609) 398-7070
654 Asbury Ave, Ocean City, NJ 08226  (609) 399-2644

654 Boardwalk, Ocean City, NJ 08226  (609) 391-1700
1118 Boardwalk, Ocean City, NJ 08226  (609) 391-7877

720 Asbury Avenue
Ocean City, NJ, 08226

(609) 398-7070


Flame & Fiberglass: a Rebirth

Tim Dinofa

boardwalk fire.jpg

Three years have passed since flames engulfed 7th Street Surf Shop. Once the fire died
down, only an ashen ruin remained. That, however, is neither the beginning nor the end.

The true beginning, if one can even be named, almost came five years earlier than it did.
History is set, and instead, owners Becky and Larry Friedel spent that time waiting for the
perfect location. In 1986, the first 7th Street Surf Shop opened its doors at 654 boardwalk,
overlooking Ocean City’s only surfing beach. At the time of its inception, it was a new, unknown store competing with two other surf shops that had been established since the sixties. Even so, 7th Street Surf Shop began to grow.

One year later, in 1987, a second location opened inside the Surf Mall; it would move to
its current location at 1118 boardwalk—between 11th and 12th street—three years later. That
same year, the store began giving its first surf lessons and a tradition was born. Beginning as free lessons once a week on Saturdays, they quickly evolved to what they are today. In 1994, a third location opened on Asbury Avenue as a year-round business.

Kids grew up in and around these stores—a phenomena which was only accentuated
when surf camps began in the late 2000s. Memories were made and embedded into the grain of the wood of these shops—most notably 7th and boardwalk, which served as a gatehouse for the ocean and the waves that lay beyond.

At about 8pm on May 16, 2015, that first, original location burned. Many things can and
have been said about that night. Fewer can be said with confidence and conviction. They do not talk about the confusion that surrounded the events while they were unfolding. They do not talk about the difficulty to learn anything significant when you are a thousand miles away and the only people who know anything are panicking. They do not talk about the act of trying to piece together what is going on from half-heard jumbled accounts. They do not talk about the sensation of watching memories burn around you. They do not talk about the emptiness present when standing in the husk of a place you thought you knew. These lie in the realm of the undescribed and unknowable.

Here is what is known. An outlet had a computer plugged into it in the back office of the
shop. It shorted and a fire started. The back door was open and the wind was blowing in from the ocean. All of the smoke was exiting out the back. No sign of it, not even the smell, was present in the front of the store. No one inside noticed the fire. Someone came in from the back and told the girl who was working. When the office door was opened, large flames were seen. Smoke filled the store. Everyone evacuated. No one was hurt. The fire department contained the fire to the single store—the concrete walls and lack of strong wind kept it from spreading. The fire was eventually extinguished, but not before it left its mark.

The heat caused a total loss of contents. Even the cash registers melted. Much was
completely destroyed. The little that remained was scorched, covered in ash, and reeked of smoke. The building had to be gutted.

That summer, 7th Street Surf Shop’s trademark surf lessons continued, but they were run
from the 7th Street Beach Arcade—the owner’s other business, located twenty feet north of the original location. The shop itself remained closed.

As stated at the beginning, this was not the end. As seen with the phoenix or the
lodgepole pine, fire—while destructive—can bring new life. The loss was acknowledged,
accepted, and moved past. The opportunity for improvement was seized and acted upon.

Owner Larry Friedel says, “From the ashes we rebuilt the original 7th Street Surf Shop. Same location. Same staff. But physically newer, with higher ceilings, updated interior, new decor, and easier access due to a wider open boardwalk entrance.”

On May 16, 2016, exactly one year after the incident, 7th Street Surf Shop’s original
location reopened its doors to the public. Soon after, on May 27, they held a grand opening and ribbon cutting to mark the occasion. Thus, it was reborn.

One common comment made is that the shop now feels larger inside than it did before the
fire. Technically speaking, the shop has the same dimensions as before. However, the raised ceilings and open front give off the appearance of more space.

As it stands, the new design is both pretty and feels less crowded than previously. The
store rose from the ashes to meet, or perhaps even exceed, the height it previously held.
Since reopening, this store has been open for the past two summers, and will be
open once again for summer 2018.

Written by Kira Friedel

Creative Corner: TDC Art

Tim Dinofa

Longtime member of the 7th Street family, Todd Diciurcio, has been bringing innovative perspective to the art communities of New York, Los Angeles, London, and beyond for quite some time. Based in Brooklyn, Todd finds himself located in the epicenter of it all. It is here that art, music, cinema, and everything in between intersect to leave a pace of life faster than the average joe can handle. 


Since the pivotal moment when he captured Guided By Voices for the first time in 1999, Todd has worked with reputable artists from the likes of Blondie and the Rolling Stones to Portugal. The. Man. and more.

In 2013, he was featured on La Casa Residency presented by Corona in collaboration with MT Warning. The clip documented Todd doing what he does best. Absorbing the sound waves of resident artists and transforming them into a tangible transcription of the bands performance. TDC mentions, “The marks become drawn out and are really reacting to the music. What I’m after, is to create a dialogue between the music and the visual work.”  

"We moved to Brooklyn almost 15 years ago. Before that, we lived in Micco, Florida for the 5 years prior. Meg and I would would head to Ocean City during the summer time to build & run surf lessons with Larry Friedel at 7th Street, which at the time was the first surf camp on the East Coast. "

Ocean City is his sanctuary. On a given summer day, you can find him talking story at Local’s Coffee or in search of one of the many mystic right sand bars Ocean City has to offer. 

His garage stands as a newly adopted institution for the locals of the North end, offering a mural where urban expression meets your local beach town. 

Stop by the shop today to purchase one of his limited edition t-shirts designs or stickers. To stay up to date with Todd’s latest works and collaborations follow him on Instagram @odddc!

Click here to check out our other custom 7th Street gear!