July 2009

Quiet Storm Surf Shop: Always Looking For New Things

Author: Craig Hysell

In life, it’s best to have an outline instead of a plan. The gods laugh at our plans. Plans do not adapt well to increases or decreases in opportunities. Plans don’t roll with obstacles or rise with stepping stones affably either. Plans are rigid; life is not. Outlines are broad, loose, adaptable, less restricting, more accommodating. All Aaron Krauss’ life he had a plan. And all his life he never thought he’d end up here.

The owner of the Quiet Storm Surf Shop in Coligny Plaza is young, vibrant and extremely business-minded in that sandals-to-work-wearing sort of way. Krauss may look like he’s on cruise control, but he knows everything that is happening in his store at all times. (At. All. Times.) He measures his words and thoughts carefully, not in the name of political correctness, but in the almost desperate need to get his exact point across as his brain constantly whirls with wants, ideas, needs, responsibilities, history and memories. Especially when it comes to both his personal journey so far and his two-year old Hilton Head Island surf shop. He’s a treat to talk to. The kind of guy you want on the team.

Krauss grew up outside of Baltimore, Maryland, spending his summers in Ocean City and dreaming of becoming an Ocean City lifeguard when he wasn’t busy skimboarding, surfing and looking at girls. In 2000, he went to college at Towson on a swimming scholarship, planning to take his summers off to pursue his lifeguarding aspirations. Instead, even after putting his money down for his first summer rental in Ocean City, he went off to train with Olympic swimming hopefuls, including the legendary Michael Phelps. The sudden change in plans suited Krauss well; he qualified for the Olympic trials in 2004 and was the first swimmer from Towson to ever qualify for the NCAA Nationals.

But, yet again, plans changed. Krauss spent 2005 intent on making an international swimming team. When it didn’t pan out, he was back to where he wanted to begin in the first place: Ocean City. He tried out for Ocean City Beach Patrol and became a lifeguard. “It was one of the best summers I’ve ever had,” says Krauss. “I was a lunatic, apparently. I would work the beach from 9:30 until 5:30, come into the surf shop and work from 5 until 10 at night, four days a week, simply because I enjoyed being in the store.” When the summer ended, Krauss turned his attention to the surf shop, or rather, it turned its attention toward him.

“My boss at the time was expanding his stores into Florida. My whole plan was to work for him doing a lot of the handiwork he needed done for nine months and then come back and do beach patrol. I figured I’d do that for about three years and then really sit down and figure out what I wanted to do with my life,” he says. Ha. The gods could be heard guffawing across the space-time continuum, flux capacitor and relativity theories or not. Krauss got to Florida in September; by December he knew he wasn’t going back to lifeguarding. He had gone from doing handiwork to managing to buying for the entire surf shop in four months. By February he was buying the retail items for 10 stores. In 2007 he helped open the Hilton Head store. In late 2007 he bought it.

“So much for plans,” Krauss laughs, “Everything changes. I look at my life now and here I am kinda going on one path then, boom, here comes another you know? I didn’t really plan any of this.” And that’s exactly what surfing (living) enjoyably is all about. Complete control is an illusion, but it doesn’t mean we can’t look good trying to fake it.

Quiet Storm is full of skimboards (from the basics to top-of-the-line models you’ve never even heard of), skateboards, bodyboards and even a few surfboards. Clothing and gear from Quiksilver, Volcom, Hurley, RVCA, Dakine, and more. Sandals from Sanuk, Reef and Rainbow. Original Quiet Storm Hilton Head T-shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts. Rash guards, leashes and stickers. Sunglasses from Oakley, Maui Jim, VonZipper, Electric and Chili’s. An entire side of the huge store is devoted to women’s beach apparel from the likes of Roxy and many others.

“I guess you could say I don’t try to jam one brand of clothing down your throat,” says Krauss. “And I’m hoping that, come the wintertime, locals will get down here and see that I have jeans, sweaters and lightweight jackets… that kinda thing as well.” The gods sit back and nod approvingly. Krauss is learning, progressing, at ease yet in (incomplete) control. Krauss is beginning to dismiss “plans” with a simple wave of his hand. He stands in the middle of his store, looking around. “We’re always looking for new things here.”
Nice outline. Who’s laughing now?

Call (843) 671-2551 for more information or just swing in with the breeze and enjoy the stroll. That’s usually the simplest and most overlooked way to spot the things we like.

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