Nick Cocores is a California surfer and owner of Thalia Surf Shop in Laguna Beach. His unique vision has brought many talented artists and shapers to the forefront and has positioned his shop as a design leader. Nick shares with us his journey.
What was it like growing up in California?
It has been the best thing ever. I have had lots opportunities and many friends. California has lots to offer; many connections and good surfing keeps me going everyday.
When did you get your first surfboard?
1986—I was about eight years old. My first wave ever was in Hawaii at Canoes in Waikiki. I have a picture, that was taken by Bobby, on the first wave I stood up on. I can’t remember his last name, but Bobby was the first guy I saw doing stand up surfing with a camera that was not water-resistant.
What was the feeling you had when you first stood on a surfboard?
I was so amazed. It was such a big deal that all I wanted to do was do it again and again. Ever since then, I have been hooked.
Who did you look up to and admire when you were a young man?
My dad got me surfing and took me on trips to Hawaii. He was the one I wanted to be like. After surfing for a while and looking at Surfer mags, I wanted to surf like Joel Tudor and Rob Machado.
Of all the interesting places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?
For surfing, the Mentawai Islands are the best. It was such an amazing trip. The waves were perfect and really fun. We had a good crew of people that made it the best surf trip I have ever been on. The waves pushed my surfing ability and opened my eyes to how good the surf can be in other places/countries.
Where were you educated?
I went to school in Mission Viejo and Fallbrook. After that, I went to Mira Costa and took business classes.
Explain how the idea for Thalia Surf came about.
Well, it was kind a deal that has slowly evolved over time. In 2001, I took over an old Hawaiiana shop that my family had opened. It was next to Toes on the Nose surf shop (which my parents owned at the time). They helped me get the spot and all I did was stock it up with surf stuff. My original plan was to just do what everyone else was doing and get all the major names. Little did I know surfing politics were in Laguna and we could not open anyone because of other competition. So this is how it all began.
I knew I could do something really cool with out any of the mainstream brands. I really wasn’t even into them anyways. So I made a few phone calls, made some tee shirts and ordered a few boards. The rest is history, and today it’s cool to look back and see how far we have come. None if it would have been possible without my family and friends.
How do you go about choosing the artists and designers you feature in the store?
We choose people that are like-minded and get what we are all about. Its not really anything you can explain; we just know when we meet or see something we like. It all started from a few friends—Andy Davis, Thomas Campbell, Joel Tudor, Malcolm Campbell, John Frasier and lots more. From these people, the whole shop has transformed into what it is today and has opened eyes for lots of people. We were not the first to invent anything. We were just the first to showcase and display this whole scene of surfing—surfers and artists doing what they love.
What is it that makes you such a nice person? What code do you live by?
I guess just being me and not trying to be cool. I treat everyone how I would want to be treated. I don’t care if you suck at surfing or if you have other interests. I am into lots of things myself and I just want to be treated good.
Who/what inspires you?
My family inspires me to do the best job I can do. All my customers make me love what I do every day. I also have a great team I work with: Corey, Josh, Paul, Shesh and Dave. Without them, we would not be here. My vendors inspire me as well. Every time we see new product, I am stoked to sell more rad stuff.
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
So far it’s business. I have learned how to make living off of doing what I love.
Do you have any regrets or wish you had done something differently?
Yes and no.
What are you most proud of?
Keeping business going through these past few years has been the biggest challenge. We have made some big changes and they have all started to pay off.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
Surfing is just surfing. It’s riding waves and sharing them with your friends. To me, it’s not about competition. It has changed my life in a few ways. I will never leave the coast and, second, I will always share the aloha spirit.
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
My family, surfing, riding dirt bikes, traveling, and being successful at work.
Who are some of the individuals you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
Lots of kids are really stoked on surfing and are very open to riding all types of equipment. I feel Thomas Campbell, Joel Tudor and Andy Davis, the Malloys, Alex Knost and so many others have changed surfing to what it is today. New people are taking it to another level. I am stoked to see Robbie Kegel, Chris Del Moro, Tyler Warren, Josh Hall and so many others take surfing into what is going to be next.
What is in your current quiver? What is your favorite board?
My quiver is this: 9’6” Randy Rarick Cali Model; 7’2” Thalia Model shaped by Sean Tully; 6’0” classic fish by Rainbow; 6’1” Bonzer egg; and 6’0” 80’s thruster from Pavel. Oh yeah, a 6’10” mini gun from Linden.
What’s your favorite meal?
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
I do not have an iPod. I am listening to The Mattson 2, The Growlers, The Seeds, Earthless, Tommy Guerrero, the 1990’s, The Dead Weather—the list goes on forever.
What causes/projects/organizations do you support?
We support all of our friends and family, which, in return, supports us. Our vendors are mostly independent artists and companies, so we invest lots of time and money into them. In return, they get to make more rad stuff, go on surf trips, make more rad boards and the cycle continues year after year.
What’s next for Nick at Thalia?
I think, next, we are focused on the Web and will try to grow that to be its own profitable business. We would like to keep on moving forward. We have lots of competition these days, so we are never sitting still—always pushing to do the next project and find the next movement.
Find out more about Thalia Surf Shop here.