Updated: Nov 21
Editorial Note: This retailer showcase, presented by Feelgoodz, highlights the continued success of surf shops around the country. Feelgoodz is a North-Carolina based footwear brand that crafts its flip-flops from natural rubber trees in Thailand, and is committed to leaving a positive footprint on the planet. Learn more at www.feelgoodz.com.
Nestled in the heart of the historic and wave-rich Outer Banks is a tan, 4,600 square foot building with a bright orange stripe that runs the length of the store.
Step inside the Outer Banks Boarding Company (OBBC), and you’ll smell the tropical aroma of surf wax — with a hint of fiberglass — and see any and every surf and beach item you could need, from surfboards to wetsuits, beach chairs, and everything in between.
The brick and mortar store was founded in 2002 by Outer Banks native Lynn Shell, though its origin story dates back decades before this.
Outer Banks Boarding Company has been serving the Outer Banks for more than two decades. Photo courtesy OBBC
Lynn’s lifelong passion for surfing started at 10 years old when, like so many others, he caught his first wave and was forever addicted.
In the years to come, Lynn turned his passion into a profit through sales and surfboard shaping.
His first job in the surf industry was at the historic Natural Art Surf Shop in Buxton. He was mentored by legendary surfboard shaper Scott Busbey, who today is in both the East Coast Hall of Fame and the Surfboard Builders Hall of Fame. Lynn and Scott together made In The Eye Surfboards.
Nearly a decade after his first job in the surf industry, Lynn shifted to sales, and would spend his work days up and down the coast. When he wasn’t behind a steering wheel navigating traffic, he was shaping for Shell Shapes.
To say that Shell Shapes was successful at this time is an understatement; brands such as Wave Riding Vehicles, Seasoned, Town and Country, Hawaiian Island Creations and eventually Superbrand carried his boards.
In a unique form of irony, Lynn — even though he hailed from the East Coast, who will forever hold Kelly Slater in high esteem — made surfboards for Kelly's arch rival, 3x world Champion Andy Irons.
In 2002, Lynn combined everything he had learned through shaping and his sales experience into the Outer Banks Boarding Company.
It’s these experiences that make OBBC different, and it starts when you walk in the door: you’re immediately and always greeted.
Lynn noticed this wasn’t a reality at many surf stores he had visited in the past, and wanted to ensure it was a staple of OBBC.
Everything beach or surfing option you could need is found under one roof at the Outer Banks Boarding Company. Photo courtesy OBBC
“When I was traveling the coast as a sales rep, I would walk into a shop, and sometimes see workers who were too cool to greet customers," Lynn said. "At OBBC, we don’t have that facade at all. Everyone who comes into the shop is greeted. I hire nice people.”
What also makes OBBC different is its selection of gear. Using cotton of the Carolinas, their branded shirts are born and made in the Carolinas.
In the shop, you'll also find many of Lynn's surfboards for sale.
"I’ve been building boards for 40 years, and this is the most excited I’ve been shaping boards," Lynn said.
The Outer Banks Boarding Company is just a few minutes away from the gorgeous and wave- rich beaches of the Outer Banks. Photo courtesy OBBC
Even better, because Lynn has been surfing for more than 50 years, and building boards for more than 40 years, he can help anyone — whether you're just beginning or you're looking to take your surfing to the next level — with the board they don't necessarily want, but with the board they need.
As far as Lynn’s advice to others operating brick and mortar stores, he says “Find your niche, and stay passionate about it. People can buy many of these products at other stores — so what makes you unique that will draw them to your store?"
For OBBC, that answer lies with decades of experience compiled under one roof, and help from a higher power. "It blows my mind hearing from people that OBBC is their favorite surf shop," Lynn said. "I don't say that lightly, and I’m not bragging on myself. It’s all because God is blessing it."
Whether you call the Outer Banks home or you’re visiting the area for a hurricane strike mission, OBBC is the one-stop shop for all things surf and beach gear — and even better, a place to get your new board dialed in using Lynn's decades of experience.