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Surf’s always up inside Big Dog Surf Shop

By Staff | Mar 22, 2012

Practical. Reasonable. Nostalgic. Sun. Sand. Fun.

That’s exactly what patrons get when they visit the Big Dog Surf Shop located at 459 Periwinkle Way, just a few blocks from the Sanibel Lighthouse area.

“I wanted to take advantage of this end of the island,” said shop owner John Cahill. “People here like convenience, especially not having to fight the traffic to the crowded part.”

Cahill opened the doors to the Big Dog Surf Shop on March 10 and is pleased with the amount of foot traffic in the first week.

“It has been good, but not disappointing,” Cahill said. “It will get better. There are a lot of dog walkers and other foot traffic in this area.”

The face of a dog wearing a beach hat is the focal point of the shop’s signage and logo.

“That came from one of my dogs,” Cahill said. “There are a lot of people with dogs, or who like dogs here.”

Even though Sanibel is not the surfing capital of the world, Big Dog Surf Shop does carry surfboards. It also offers a line of the more practical belly boards, skimmer boards, stand-up paddleboards and kayaks. With that comes the necessary beach supplies and accessories, like swim suits, beach towels, sandals, T-shirts, beach toys, suntan lotions and all other beach apparel and essentials. It’s really a beach store with a surfboard facade.

“I get two kinds of visitors,” said Cahill. “I get tourists who are just looking for something to do, and I get those looking for things for the beach.”

With beach music and videos playing in the background, it’s like stepping back into days gone by.

“I play the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean and a lot of other groups, and people really like that,” said Cahill. “It sets the mood. It’s a fun atmosphere.”

Patrons so far are impressed with the surf murals on the walls inside Big Dog Surf Shop where they can have their picture taken riding a board on a big wave, in a lifeguard chair or with one of many other props.

“I’ve learned a lot in just the first week,” said Cahill. “I think one of the main things is the reasonable prices. People don’t want to feel like they’ve been ripped off. Whether someone buys or doesn’t buy makes no difference.”

The surf shop idea has been a longtime dream for Cahill, who moved to Southwest Florida about five years ago.

“I’m a restaurant guy and I just decided I had enough,” said Cahill, who spent the past eight years as a chef with the Cracker Barrel chain. “I have a wife and three kids, so this will be a family situation.”

Cahill added that he looks forward to becoming involved in the community in many other ways, particularly fundraising activities for some of the many worthy causes on Sanibel.