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San Clemente Journal

The Downtown Beat by Nina

Aug 23, 2019 11:28AM ● By Nina Welch

Owner Tom Rule

by Nina Welch

Moldy Toes  A Vinyl Collector’s Dream

The store in the 200 block of El Camino Real in San Clemente called Moldy Toes makes one wonder what they are selling … shoes … pedicures… foot powder?
None of the above … it’s a record store! And owner Tom Rule has been in the record store business in San Clemente for five years. 

When asked where the quirky name came from, he says, “My muse for Moldy Toes came from a song titled Smelly Tongues by the Residents. My wife didn’t like it, and my mom couldn’t stand it so, of course, that is what I went with.”

Tom refers to the store’s logo as Thee Moldy Man, which can be found on T-shirts called Moldy Clothes. He designs the T-shirts in, as he calls it, crude third grade art style, and has it cleaned up by a graphic designer. 

Always involved in music, Tom started working at Condor Records in San Juan Capistrano at age 16. He’s been working in record stores since Elvis died in ‘77. In ’79 he went to work for Tower Records. He also wrote reviews of new music for a monthly publication in Ann Arbor, Michigan. As a radio DJ, he started at Saddleback College then went onto KDVS at Davis, KFJC in Los Altos, and Vanderbilt in Nashville. He played music by Frank Sinatra, Patsy Cline and Captain Beefheart.   

Customers of his store range from young teens to retirees, mostly male. However, a little girl and her dad came in to purchase a cable for her turntable and they bought a stack of LPs. Her favorite singer is Blondie, and her dad was introducing her to Patsy Cline. 
When asked if he sells collectibles, Tom stated, “I sell records that are hard to come by, like old Blue Note jazz titles or almost anything that was pressed in the late ‘90s early 2000s, when CDs were king. I mostly sell stuff that is $15 or less.” The books and DVDs in the store all have a music theme. 

Tom is married with three kids and lives in San Juan Capistrano. As a fundraiser for the San Clemente High School Music Department, he puts on record shows twice a year in the Triton Center. What is a record show? Tom says, “It’s a swap meet with a bunch of vinyl vendors from Southern California.”

Old-school punk, Hank Williams, alternative, jazz, and everything in between can be found at this well-stocked record store.

Call (949)444-8275 or visit

Hobie’s, shaping a lifestyle built around fun, water and quality products.

Shaping a Culture for Surf and Style

The Hobie Surf Shop on the corner of Del Mar and Ola Vista is a beach town fixture. Beach people all up and down the coast as well as returning summer tourists know the name Hobie. 
Jake Schwaner, Hobie’s Managing Partner, says, “The first surf shop in California opened in 1954 in Dana Point. The San Clemente shop opened in 2005. San Clemente is probably the beachiest town there is when it comes to the people, the environment and the sport of surfing. We sponsor local school surf teams and, of course, a Hobie surf team.”

Hobie’s will turn 70 next year; and its formula remains the same as when Hobie Alter started the business of shaping a unique lifestyle based around fun, water, and quality products. The website’s history states that Alter set a course that would influence the future of the “Sport of Kings.” 

Described as a man of great imagination, he started out shaping surfboards in his family’s Laguna Beach summer home for friends, and ended up shaping a culture. “We still hand shape surfboards in our Dana Point store and customers can come in anytime and watch our renowned Dana Point shaper, Gary Larson, hard at work,” says Jake.

Hobie customers are multi- generational. They are the families that grow up in the beach communities and have shopped the stores since 1954. “We run deep in the community and the many tourists-visitors that come to our beach towns can experience our California beach lifestyle,” says Jake. 

The merchandise includes surfboards, of course, and a unique blend of outdoor related gear for any pursuit that would cover the beach and mountains. Not only does Hobie’s carry stylish men and women’s attire but books are a special addition to the store. “We all love books and the ones we carry cover everything from surf, music, art, spirituality and overall wandering around in the outdoors. They sell escapism and bring back the good old days when you could go into a book store, get lost and connect with humans,” says Jake. 

Hobie’s buyers also focus on unique accessories. The jewelry for women is truly special and Tori, the main accessory buyer, is a legend at Hobie’s. 

Hobie Surf Shop’s retail philosophy is to provide innovation, quality products, the best customer service, and to be a true partner in the community. 

Daniela De Azevedo holds one of their tapioca crepes, which are made from the yucca flour.

Not your Grandmother’s Tapioca

Brazilian açai and tapioca crepes are among the treats at Ybá (pronounced eeba) on Avenida Del Mar. Ybá is the native dialect which means the trunk of the açai tree. Owners Christian Perez and Daniela De Azevedo had a vision when they opened their business a year and a half ago.
“We began to think of the many Brazilian healthy foods and wanted to introduce them to Californians and so Ybá was born,” says Daniela. The acaí tree looks like a palm tree with branches loaded with berries. Christian stated, “The açai tree produces a berry that is hard and when boiled the skin is processed-blended and becomes the pure liquid treat. The difference between the Brazilian açai and other açai products is that no sugar is added and it’s 100% açai.”
Ybá’s natural and healthy foods not only offer flavor and richness but the benefits of the organic açai and gluten-free tapioca crepes are numerous. According to Christian, “Tapioca is not tapioca. Tapioca is the new bread.”

Brazilian tapioca is gluten-free, GMO-free, sodium- free, lactose-free, vegan, 100% natural, fat-free, dairy-free and nut-free. In fact, everything on their menu is gluten-free. The crepes are made from the yucca flour, which is tapioca.

When walking on Del Mar if you’re hungry, a PB&J crepe, Cali bowl and Brazilian pour over coffee is just the ticket for breakfast or for lunch. Many customers enjoy the smoked salmon tapioca crepe with lemon cream cheese, and avocado. For a pick-me-up, a detox smoothie or açai bowl can do the trick.

According to Daniela and Christian, Brazilian organic, 100% natural açai gives you energy, contains natural antioxidants, fiber, protein and minerals.  Other popular menu items include gluten-free waffles, açai smoothies, cheese bread called Pao de Queijo de Tapioca, omelets called eggoca, and a smoked turkey breast crepe.

Fifty percent of Ybá customers are Brazilian. They appreciate the authenticity of the açaí, which is not diluted with other berries and juices. The coffee is also very authentic and served traditional style, which includes a filter stand, hot water and Brazilian coffee grounds. The other fifty percent of Ybá customers are health-conscious, and curious. Vegan enthusiasts can also find a wide variety of menu choices.

Ybá is open seven days a week from 9am to 6pm and 9am to 7pm on Saturdays. Website:

 PJ Harlow
Pajamas and Jean Harlow’s Satin Influence

Surround yourself in softness is the motto of PJ Harlow on Del Mar in San Clemente. Tina McMillen, owner, has been manufacturing five brands of loungewear in the United States for fifteen years. PJ Harlow is designed for women by a woman. 

Tina sells her loungewear collection online and to hotel/resort and coastal women’s specialty stores. The five brands are PJ Harlow, Rock Cotton, Urban Mumu, Bra30 (a tank top with support), and Snoozie2. Several of these brands are Oprah’s favorites. 

This lounge-casual-comfort-beach-easy-living wear has been featured at their pop-up store at discount prices located on the 200 block of Del Mar. The current pop-up store has been so successful that Tina is pleased to announce her first venture for the branded store on September 1st. 

The popular pop-up store will relocate to a brick and mortar at the Minart’s Hair and Fashion Boutique location at 154 Ave. Del Mar. This new store will offer a varied selection of buttery soft knits and silky soft satin at regular prices. 

All PJ Harlow products are machine-washable and dryer safe making them easy to care for. And due to the glamorous inventory of PJ Harlow, it wasn’t surprising to learn that the name came from pajamas and Jean Harlow. 

According to Tina, customers range from ages 25 to grandmothers, and moms have started buying for their daughters. The daughters love the boxers, which have gone viral and are popular on the college circuit. High-schoolers also buy them, and the boxers were recently featured on the Bachelorette TV show. Tina also says that their fourth quarter is their busiest time because families are buying pajamas for the holidays.

Tina and her husband, Dennis of 34 years, live in Dana Point and have two daughters, Shelby and Taylor. Shelby will be running the PJ Harlow store in San Clemente and eventually, there will be a store for Taylor to manage. Tina’s overall philosophy for the business can be seen on their hang tags: “Created for women defining the world with your strength, energy, and compassion.”
“I quietly started this business to make women feel pretty and comfortable, and now there’s a cult following,” says Tina. Once they wear it, they return to buy gifts. 

Whether you’re in for the evening, spending a day at the spa, or simply taking a relaxing moment for yourself, PJ Harlow promises you the ultimate experience in soft dressing.
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