Paul Goff may appear to be your average shop owner in Columbia’s Five Point’s area, but really his story is a little deeper than many of the others. See for most of Paul’s, and his wife Jessica’s, teen and young adult years they shopped at the store they now own. Salty’s Surf Shop was originally established in1982 in Ocean Isle by Joe Waters who opened another location in Florence and around 1992 opened and operated in the Five Points location for over 10 years. Joe began finding it too much to travel back and forth between stores and decided he was going to put the Columbia store up for sale.
Paul in the meantime had started his own contracting business and was studying for a degree in architectural engineering, when his doctor gave him news he had been dreading. A childhood heart ailment had resurfaced and Paul needed to change his lifestyle. So in the spring of 2003 after talking with the current owner, Paul agreed to start managing the surf shop and get a feel for what it was like. One afternoon after a morning of operational issues when Paul had asked Jessica to come in and watch the counter while he fixed some electrical problems, the owner walked in and saw some of the changes she had made, liked them and hire her too. The husband and wife team began running Salty’s from that point on and in the spring of 2008 made an offer and realized their dream of becoming the new owners of Salty’s Board Shop.
Paul hired a fresh staff and gave the store a new vibe that resonated with the community and the families that shopped there. The team moved the store up Harden Street across from the Chick-fi-a into a freshly up fitted store. They are a “board” shop because they offer every type of board not just surf boards but also longboards, skateboards, snowboards, wakeboards, and all of the apparel and accessories that go with them.
When asked about the challenges and rewards of owning a business, Jessica says, “We are unbelievably blessed, and love all the people we have met and created friendships with through the shop”, adding that “we adore this industry and those who work in it.” Paulon the other hand, while he so enjoys his customers, he alos enjoys the interaction with other business owners and learning from their expertise and experience. “We almost have our online store up and running, which we see as a necessity”, when referring to the competition, “we don’t only compete against other board shops, but we compete against our own suppliers as well.”
One pet peeve of all business owners are the consumers who like to come into a store and “shop”, which means to gain knowledge and use others expertise and when asked if they would like to make the purchase they say, “oh, no, I’m going to buy it on the internet”. With these kinds of consumers, small and local businesses will not be around at all much longer.
“We like to give back when we can”, Jessica points out, after referring to several benefits for earthquake survivors, and victims of cancer. They also sponsor a skate team that competes regularly. “Our skaters are great” she adds.
Paul likes to think back with a smile about the middle school teacher who called him down one day while riding his skateboard on school property, chastising him and telling him that “you know, skateboarding isn’t going to get you anywhere in life…”
As they raise their three children in the turmoil of this economic stress, Paul and Jessica both have the same thoughts about business ownership, “All in all, the challenges that we face everyday are numerous, but the reward of being your own boss can't be beat. Owning a board shop isn't just another day at the beach, it's like riding “Mavericks” (big wave surf break): big, daunting, and at times unpredictable, but the reward of knowing you did it, and made it out alive, is invaluable. “
By Jack Tisdall, The Daily Gamecock
Salty’s Board Shop, located across from Chick-fil-A in Five Points, is more than a primo retailer; it is the headquarters of Columbia’s boarder culture.
If you board, whether on snow, street or water, you need to know store owner Paul Goff. Since becoming full-time owner of Salty’s Board Shop in 2008, Goff has organized longboarding teams that are currently sponsored by Sector 9, and offers paddleboarding clinics on the Saluda River. He also played an active role in the construction of the Owens Field Skate Park, which is just a short drive away from Five Points.
Salty’s offers a commendable range of products for every board sport imaginable. Skaters will marvel at the towering racks of dashing decks and wide selection of wheels. Longboarders can purchase even the most obscure tools necessary to maintain their boards, in addition to finding top-drawer trucks, bearings and wheels. The collection of Bob Marley longboards was particularly impressive. And, no need to sweat if your board ever malfunctions. Salty’s does tunings and repairs to keep skating gear fresh.
For those who plan to rip up the beaches of Charleston, Salty’s offers dozens of polished skimboards, surfboards and wakeboards. And, although the endless selection of boards can get a little overwhelming, Goff or any of the approachable staff members can explain the nuances of each design. Each sales person is a dedicated boarder in his or her own right.
“I started the store because I love to shred. Boarding is a significant part of my life,” Goff said.
Boarding gear isn’t all the Five Points speciality shop has to offer. Stay fly and suit up with Salty’s trendy apparel, including brands that aren’t offered anywhere else in Columbia, such as RVCA and Jedidiah. Guys’ T-shirts and short-sleeve button-downs are arranged by color, making for convenient mixing and matching.
There’s an abundance of reasonably priced bathing suits as well as an impressive wall of skate and surfer shoes. Salty’s has an ocean of unique, colorful surfer clothes especially suitable for hot days, in addition to literally hundreds of bikinis. The five enormous shelves of sandals and six cases of sunglasses round out Salty’s first-class apparel selection that guarantees a “steezy”(style with ease) look.
Goff’s also brings an edge to Salty’s through his initiatives to give back to the community. He sponsored last year’s Columbia Music Festival, stirring enthusiasm for the local arts event by giving away dozens of boards.
Goff proudly sells an array of Toms Shoes, supporting the brand’s global mission, as well as Jedidiah clothing, which puts profits toward humanitarian causes such as Amor, a nonprofit organization that builds houses in Mexico for those in extreme poverty.
“I want the store to be more than just a local retailer. I want it to be an active participant in improving the community,” Goff said.
The South is full of outdoor boarding opportunities, including paddleboarding on the Congaree River, surfing at Myrtle Beach and snowboarding at Cataloochee in North Carolina. Hit up Salty’s for all the necessities, and discover what this community-centered board shop is all about.
Salty’s is at 912 Harden St. and is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m.