Bamboo walls, a little sand carried over from passers-by and a young and casual atmosphere: Freaky-Tiki Surf Shack has all the elements of a classic surf shop but despite being a short walk from Clearwater Beach, this place is less of a tourist destination and more of a local hotspot.
Started 12 years ago, the brick-and-mortar Freaky-Tiki serves as a home for its brand of locally designed and produced T-shirts and surf gear. But don't expect surfboards, palm trees and other predictable elements so often found at the mall. Instead, think vintage-inspired nautical themes like a faded grey tri-blend tee with a '40s pin-up girl perched on an anchor ($22.97) and classic symbols like the Hand of God modernized on a fitted tank ($19.97).
The whole process is kept local, from inception — when one of the owners, Ethan Paz, works with a team of designers drawing its collection by hand — to the hand silk-screening process used to print them at a factory on U.S. 19 and finally to its sale by the Gulf. Each style is made only 48 times so that every owner has a somewhat exclusive piece.
In 2010, the brand added the Karma line to its racks, a collection of T-shirts that features the Buddhist belief of what goes around, comes around, a concept the brand tries to follow. In addition to making all products locally, they use organic, natural dyes, and all the furniture in the store is made of recycled wood. Whether it has brought them good karma is for each person to judge, but lately their customer base has included Three Days Grace frontman Adam Gontier and comedy legend Robin Williams.