Amber O’Shea and Tim Oviatt have come a long way as owners of Ocean House Surf and Skate.
The surf-and-skate shop had humble beginnings. The business started in Salem in 2011, with Oviatt selling gear out of his truck and garage. One year later, Oviatt moved his base of operations to Beverly Port Marina, and in 2013, moved the shop to Swampscott where he stayed until 2021.
The shop in Swampscott also had a café, which is where O’Shea and Oviatt connected because O’Shea was a frequent customer. Eventually, with her experience working in the food industry, she helped him run the café. O’Shea became more involved in the business as it grew by doing some buying for Oviatt, who also makes custom boards at the shop.
Ocean House made its way to Nahant just before Christmas of last year, as the business moved into its new location at 2A Wilson Road, with construction taking longer than expected.
O’Shea said the Nahant community has been great in supporting the shop.
“Everybody has been really cool,” she said. “Two days before Christmas, all of our branded gear and T-shirts — everybody bought them so we ran out. Everybody seems really stoked.”
O’Shea said that Long Beach in Nahant is a great spot for surfing due to its long waves and shallow and sandy makeup. This also makes it a suitable surf spot for beginners, as well as more advanced surfers.
The pandemic has helped people step out of their comfort zones and try some new hobbies, especially ones that can get them outdoors. O’Shea said that in the past two years, surfing and skating have really blown up.
“Everybody just wants to be outside,” she said. “We’ve really seen the sport blow up lately and we have a ton of beginners coming into the shop that are super excited.”
O’Shea also mentioned the technological advances that have helped the sport grow in colder areas of the planet.
“I don’t think a lot of people realized you can surf in Massachusetts,” she said. “The wetsuit technology wasn’t really up to par 20 years ago, so if you lived in a cold-weather place or somewhere where the waves are best in the cold weather, you wouldn’t (have) seen a lot of surfers in the water decades ago because the technology wasn’t there.”
O’Shea compared hitting the beaches of Massachusetts to going skiing or snowboarding.
“If you have the right gear, you can surf on a 20-degree day and be fine,” she said.