Midwest transplant Steve Mara knew he’d found his life’s true calling when he came to San Diego and “discovered” surfing. Now he’s actualized his passion – and dream – selling surf gear via an Amazon Storefront, while also opening a brick-and-mortar surf shop, Ho Stevie!, at 1152 Garnet Ave. in Pacific Beach.
Wisconsin-native Mara just held a grand opening for his new business, replete with DJ entertainment, on Valentine’s Day.
Promotional materials for Ho Stevie! advertise that the company strives to “keep surfing fun” while offering “high-quality, low-priced surf accessories.”
“We don’t sell surfboards presently but everything else you need – fins, leashes, wetsuit hangars, surfboard socks, car racks, traction pads so you never have to use wax – we sell,” Mara said. “We sell ponchos you can change in and out of your wet suit in. We’ve got changing bag where you throw your wet suit in the bag after you’re done surfing and it doesn’t get your car all wet and smelly.”
Added Mara: “I want to get board shorts and sunscreen. Everything we sell here is our own products. We don’t resell other people’s stuff, so you cut out the middle person. That way we can sell everything cheaper.
“Ninety-five percent of what people are going to want we sell. They just want a good product, like fins, that work with their surfboard and they know it’s going to be good quality and it’s cheap. And that’s what we provide.”
The business name has an interesting origin. As Mara tells it: “I couldn’t think of what to name the company when I came up with it. Ho Stevie, it’s kind of Hawaiian slang. Instead of saying ‘hey,’ people say ‘ho’ in Hawaii. In the surf world, it’s cool to be Hawaiian.”
Mara’s been growing his online company with videos and social media via YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.
“We have 40,000 followers on Instagram,” said the surf entrepreneur. “I’d go film all the surf spots and make a 3-minute edit and put it on the internet. So I’m really well known in San Diego even though we sell all over the United States and other countries. But a lot of times now I go to a surf spot and film and people come up and go, ‘Hey I watch your videos, thanks for doing that.’ That’s how I grew the whole fan base.”
The surf storefront and website complement each other, said Mara.
“A lot of our customers from San Diego previously could order from the website and have it shipped to them,” he said. “Now we finally have a place where people can just walk in, buy it, and get it the same day.”
What’s the appeal of surfing?
“It feels good to be out in the water and not care about anything else,” noted Mara. “It’s great exercise. You get your sunlight. It’s just a really fun thing to do.
“I just want to make a one-stop shop for surfers where they know they’re getting the best product at the best price with the best service,” Mara said. “I’m just trying to make everything that surfers want. The next things are wet suits, surfboards, wax, and sunscreen.”
Where: 1152 Garnet Ave.
Daily: Noon-5 p.m. daily.