Island Shop: Larry Garrison Races Toward His Florida Dream
Larry Garrison, owner of Island Shop, offers sales and rentals of all types of boards, including stand-up paddle boards and surf, skim and body boards. He's training to enter local stand-up paddle board races.
Island Shop is a beachgoers’ haven. Originally opened in 1977, this Indian Rocks staple is decorated with palm trees amid a bright blue and yellow backdrop and a border of grass skirts.
It’s serious about its water fun. Colorful surf boards and paddles skim the ceiling and stand at attention along the front wall. Huge stand-up paddle boards hang vertically across a side wall.
You can find everything you need from swimsuits, sandals and sunscreen to all types of boards: skim boards, body boards, stand-up boards and surf boards.
Larry Garrison purchased the shop more than three years ago It's a dream-in-the-making from his hometown in Dayton, Ohio.
His Floridian journey started with his biggest love: his annual trek to Daytona Beach’s Bike Week, the huge event drawing thousands of motorcyclists and bike aficionados for a weekend of festivities.
When each return trip back home became harder and harder, the tool and die machinist wondered if he should take the plunge and make a permanent move to Florida.
“There was nothing keeping me up in Ohio,” Garrison said.
Garrison and his wife-to-be, Charla, moved to the sunshine state 12 years ago. They adopted Mojo, a rescue pup from the Largo SPCA.
Charla Garrison, a director, writer and actor started writing full-length mysteries for her The Detective Dinner Theater.
Garrison took on various jobs, including one as a light machinist. He assembled motorcycles, then gassed and polished them for customer pick-up. The company promoted him to sales where he sold motorcycles, boats and sea-doos.
The work was fun, but he wanted something beyond sales.
“I’d been looking for a small business I could run myself. Something by the beach,” Garrison said.
He didn’t have a specific business in mind beyond the key points of a one-man operation that would offer him the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful beaches.
“When this shop came up for sale, I knew it was the one,” Garrison said.
In the front of the store, a television broadcasts a live feed of the beach. Awards from local surfing contests are displayed in a clear glass case and on top of clothing racks.
The shop is open seven days a week. In his few hours of spare time usually in the early morning hours, Garrison relishes an hour of stand-up paddle boarding or fishing.
“I want to fish on the board. I’ve got it rigged for everything I need … I’ll anchor along the buoys and fish out there,” Garrison said.
He’s also training for local races, such as the upcoming Gulf Coast Stand-Up Paddleboard Championships, to be held in Madeira Beach on May 20 through May 22, 2011.
“It’s a nine-mile race … I’m working my way up to that,” Garrison said.
“The kid that won it last year was a 16-year-old from Hawaii. Second place was a local guy who travels all over and competes," he said.
"I’m training … I’ll make it there.”