Though there have always been female surfers and there are more now than ever, surfing remains a dude-dominated bro-fest. Surf shops, too. An exception is Mar Vista, California’s Rock’er Board Shop, owned and operated by forty-something California native, Alison Copeland. After a long and successful career in fashion, Copeland opened Rock’er only to learn that the gig, like surfing, came with its share of indignities…
Lesson One: Beware the Surfalo
The term surfalo may conjure images of the smoke-breathing beasts at your local surf break. But the Colberty-ish word was in fact coined by Copeland to describe a new variation on an age-old occupation.
“They’re gigolos who want to surf,” says Copeland: “Surfalos.”
“I have a stream of young men who come into the shop,” she says.
Copeland proudly proclaims her penchant for dating younger guys.
“I’m a cougar,” she laughs, laughing more at the idea she’d ever prey on anyone. On the contrary: At Rock’er, she learned the hard way that not all the young dudes had the purest motives for dating her.
“It became apparent I was going to get hit on by men who will do anything to continue surfing without working at a regular paying job,” Copeland says.
“I was a target not once but twice,” she says, “because of the board deals and products I was able to get the person I was dating.”
While the class of male does rate a special name with Copeland, she insists surfalos are “the exception rather than rule.”
And with the bad news came the good: For a forty-something female with an appreciation for fine young men, with owning a surf shop came the aforementioned stream of them.
“It’s a giggle,” Copeland says. (It was a rare moment of disingenuousness. I believe she actually meant IT RULES!)
“I’m a California native, but my sister was always the one who had the classic native thing going on. I always felt more attractive in New York, or other places because I don’t fit that stereotype.”
Copeland has lately found a welcome comfort in her own skin and self-assuredness.
“It’s nice being at a place in your life you can enjoy,” Copeland says. “I still know I’m not a classic beauty. But my attractiveness to younger men has more to do with what’s going on inside me.”
If she says so. (Not to in any way diminish what’s going on inside her, mind you.)
One thing’s certain, Copeland and her original partner in Rock’er, Christina Andropolis, never set out to set up a man-veyor belt of a business. Rock’er was originally conceived as a female surfer’s boutique.
Coming Next: Lesson 2: Rock’er, Adult Surf Shop