New Temples for New Times (Shop Review, Bali Edition)

posted by / News / July 26, 2010

Raw Surf Shop, BaliThree new shops in Bali are changing the way shit gets sold

Words by Nathan Myers

I hate shopping. I only enter retail stores on an emergency basis, and usually exit prematurely, feeling scarred, confused and cheated.

Surf shops, however, are a bit different. If there’s boards and art and books and movies inside, I can generally hang out inside for a while without feeling too dirty and patriotic. But ever since I moved to Bali, even surf shops have had me feeling itchy.

In a country with cheap rent and discount staffing, surf brands here took a new approach to retail marketing: brand-specific mega stores. Billabong shop. Hurley shop. Quiksilver shop. Why compare quality when you can join a club, right?

Under this same consumer-blind theory, even the non-branded shops separated their wares by brand instead of logic. For instance, if you want some boardshorts, instead of looking at all the size 32’s, you can only look at Quiksilver, then walk to the other side of the store to look at Rip Curl, then another side for Volcom…on and on into retail insanity.

Logic, lost in translation.

But recently, three new surf shops have broken ground in surfing’s hype awareness zone. All three strive towards creating an experience and a vibe, rather than fashion-bombing us into a brand-war most surfers care little about.

Seemed cool to me, so I thought I’d show you around.

Spoiler alert: if you hate shopping (even surf shopping), save your angry response for another blog. We know this looks like we’re choking on something…but seriously, we just needed a bar of wax and ended up checking a few rockers.

Have a look around. No purchase necessary.

DRIFTER

Over in the swanky dining-n-jewelry district of Seminyak, the Drifter shop offers a rootsy experience of alterative cruisiness. Unshaped alaia blanks and replicas of classic Indo surfboards (like Lopez bolts, Fitzgerald stingers and Machado biscuits). Handcrafted Hawaiian ukuleles. Boat-approved books ranging from Bukowski and Kerouac to Weisbecker and Warshaw. And a bunch of hand-selected surf art from some of Bali’s iconic residents. Drifter is a tight, earthy package: tastefully designed and packed with handpicked specialty items. Wallets, bags, hats, and shades are all mellow style that don’t scream: “check me out I surf.” They just last long, work well and look cool.

BEST: Overall vibe of handpicked quality.

WORST: $50 t-shirts (that I actually like).

Drifter Surf Shop, Bali

Drifter Surf Shop, Bali

Drifter Surf Shop, Bali

Drifter Surf Shop, Bali

Drifter Surf Shop, Bali

RAW

Bali surfer/entrepreneur Tipi Jabrik’s new RAW shop, on the main Sunset Road outside Kuta, is more “surf mall” than single shop, with art brands like RVCA, Obey Deus and Rhythm each occupying a cubical of a massive retail warehouse. It’s still the “together but separate” thing, but here’s where it gets interesting: the warehouse also houses a café, wood-fire pizza kitchen, outdoor bar, and a large, shaded patio area that’s perfect for parties, premiers, DJs and bands (which Tipi is pretty legendary for pulling together around here). The wide-open retail space if littered with motorcycles, pool tables and surf art that blur the lines between shopping and rocking out, and RAW has already started throwing some classic parties to help us shed our retail inhibitions.

BEST: Outdoor beer patio with free WiFi.

WORST: Not much surfboards.

Raw Surf Shop, Bali

Raw Surf Shop, Bali

Raw Surf Shop, Bali

Raw Surf Shop, Bali

Raw Surf Shop, Bali

MATUSE ART + FUNCTION

At first glance, this Matuse shop might seem like another brand-specific billboard, but high-quality wetsuit start-up is really just enabling their rider and longtime Bali-resident Mikala Jones to do his own thing here. Set out in the rapid-growth village of Canggu, MJ’s shop is founded on Matuse’s signature surf vests, local shaper Luke Studor’s snubby pug-shapes (sweet fun for the local breaks) and an MJ-approved selection of surf art and photos. Other items like bodysurfing hand paddles, Vertra sunscreen, and bar serving Hawaiian style shave ice are pure Mikala. It’s just a funky little shop kinda way out in the boonies, but you step inside and kinda feel like hanging around a while. Might just be the AC and snow-cones.

BEST: Shave ice.

WORST: Shave ice.

MATUSE ART + FUNCTION

MATUSE ART + FUNCTION

MATUSE ART + FUNCTION

MATUSE ART + FUNCTION

MATUSE ART + FUNCTION

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  • Tim Jones

    More hard-hitting journalism from Seppo leach Nathan Myers. One week, it’s him chastising the industry for invading Bali (so he can continue to phone in easy paychecks I guess…how dare they!), and this week, he’s breaking down how “shit gets sold dawg!” in Bali. Make up your mind you hypocritical tub of grease. I swear to Huey, Nathan would blow an arms dealer if he gave him complimentary WiFi.

  • smugged

    zitches and shat but hoes and tricks

  • Jeff

    If you’re looking for hard-hitting journalism, I would think to look some place other than a surf website. Just saying.

  • Juicy

    Bra, i can write a better book report.

  • Speilberg

    Drifter store is sick.

  • sour sally

    Tim you are a negative twat. The story is very uncontroversial – its about some new shops sprouting in bali.. Nathan obviously has something your jeasous of. Friends maybe?

  • wtf

    thats the gayest shit ever. the worst surf shop ever poor bali : (

  • WE DONT WANT CLOTHES

    @sour sally,,,,, only bitches care about clothes or retail stores…… that said wheres HOLLISTER i cant find one in padang……..

  • Rambo Estrada

    Sweet, I’m off to Bali next month, thanks for the heads up on some cool shops to check out.

  • nicholas farris

    nathan,

    sorry to be a narc; but shouldn’t it read in the raw review – “not many surfboards?” i just hate to see standards slipping…

    …by the way i live in Bali and all these stores are an uber cool addition to the somewhat generic surf retail wasteland here.

    good guys having a go and running good stores, isn’t that how its meant to be? how did it get so fucked up by the big boys?

    live long & prosper i say…

  • blech

    Art + Function

    it’s Arty.

    they tell you. just in case you didn’t know….

    just like those RVCA nerds

  • rinal

    Nice store….i wanna be a part of Rhythm Indonesia

  • Robo

    Any of these shops have a online shop??

  • Bali Golf Course

    Make up your mind you hypocritical tub of grease. I swear to Huey, Nathan would blow an arms dealer if he gave him complimentary WiFi…

  • Diego

    why loosing your time writing a coment about something that you don’t like, why not just click close and move on and let people live without a not necessary negative vibe?