Eastern Lines owner Don Tarrant has been riding a wave of success at his shop in Belmar for more than 40 years. In May 2019, he accepted a special honor bestowed upon a select group of local surfing legends when he was inducted into the New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame.
Tell us a little bit about your business.
Eastern Lines is a full-service surf shop located on Ocean Avenue in Belmar, directly across from the surfing beaches at 17th and 18th Avenues. We opened in 1981 in the Acme Plaza. In those days, we were known as Zodiac Surf & Skate. After closing for a year in 1986 (while I was spending a lot of time in Hawaii), we re-opened on Main Street as Eastern Lines Surf Shop.
What was the inspiration for your business?
I have been a surfer since the age of 12. I found my life consumed by surfing and travelling to surf. I had always been interested in surfboard design and construction. By opening the shop, I was able to live the lifestyle I wanted.
What do you enjoy most about being part of the Belmar business community?
I grew up in Ocean County and had my early surfing career at Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, which was very well known at the time as a “hot bed” of New Jersey surfing. Once I was old enough to drive, I began surfing in the Belmar area regularly. In the years after I opened the shop in Belmar, I became acquainted with my many business owners and locals. Most of the locals and business people are very friendly and share a sense of community. I like that very much.
What is something most people don't know about your business?
Eastern Lines is a family-run business. My daughter, Darby, has been working and involved in the shop since she was 12, along with many other members of my family. After her graduation from Stockton, she came to work at the shop full-time and has since taken over most of the day-to-day operations at the shop.
I want my business to be known for….
I would hope that Eastern Lines will always be remembered as a friendly, family-oriented business. In a lot of cases, we are on our third generation of surfers from the same families. It’s quite an honor to have been involved with all those people!
How does it feel to be an inductee into the New Jersey Surfing Hall of Fame?
As of that day, there will only have been about 50 people inducted so far. I feel it is a real privilege to have my name mentioned along with many of the most well-known surfing luminaries in New Jersey.
When I’m not working, I like to….
Spend a lot of time reading and riding my Harley. My “second home” is in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. I love to spend time with all my friends there.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned being in business for yourself?
I laugh when I hear over and over, "Wow, you own a business up at the beach. You must make a fortune!" Most people have no idea how hard it is to run and maintain a business, especially for a long period of time. Your business is really with you seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Even when you’re off, you’re thinking and worrying about it and trying to make plans for your future.
Anything else to add?
I have been incredibly fortunate to do what I love for nearly 40 years. I’ve gotten to travel and surf all over the world. I’ve met and made many friends along my travels. I love being in the surf business and love my many friends and customers. Our mantra over these many years has always been "Soul, Tradition and Experience." I hope I have been able to live up to those ideals.
Eastern Lines Surf Shop
1605 Ocean Avenue
Belmar, New Jersey
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