Stacy Ross Volkart, Putting Passion into BusinessMar 17, 2023 01:06PM ● By Anne Batty
by Anne Batty
There is a large shade tree in a small park smack dab in the middle of Los Molinos Street in north San Clemente. And for Stacy Ross Volkart, co-owner of UsedSurf at 216 Los Molinos, it says a lot about the vibe in the area where she and her business partner glass and airbrush craftsman Maurice Angello have set up shop.
“I have a picture of that tree in our store,” she shared. “For me it is the heart of the district. Standing strong with roots running deep, it is a symbol of the relationships that have been built here over the years.”
Most likely the first woman to have worked and eventually established a business in this primarily industrial hub, Stacy first encountered the district because of her love of surfing. Growing up in Orange County, she got her first board at about 16 and caught the surfing bug. About that time, she discovered San Clemente and San Onofre where she and her band of buddies spent most weekends. Years later she finally made her way back to San Clemente to call it home for the next 15 years.
Having played sports her whole life (softball, soccer and water polo), it was no surprise when Volkart’s manager at Duke’s Griddle and Grill, Gary Roach, approached her saying, “we need a girl to surf for us in the San Clemente Ocean Fest.” Up for the challenge, she ended up making it all the way to the finals and that’s when she began thinking about entering competitive surfing. With the encouragement of friends, she got into the WSA surfing contest series where she met her goal of winning the championship in 2003. She went on to compete for a few more years participating in club and some Pro contests.
Although eventually achieving semi-pro longboard status Stacy decided she should leave the circuit. Sensing that pro-surfing wasn’t her path she began pursuing other options. and like most young adults, supported herself with a variety of jobs in town before settling into her niche among the entrepreneurs on Los Molinos Street.
“One of my first jobs in San Clemente was in the district working as the lunch bartender at Mulligans Sports Bar on the corner of Valle and Molinos,” Volkart revealed. “That’s where I got to know all the area locals. As surfers we had lots in common, but as is true of most things in life I had to pay my dues before I was fully accepted as a part of it all.”
It was while working at Mulligans that Stacy met her future business partner. Both were immersed in the town’s surf culture and owned an immense collection of boards. Needing to purge their stashes and realizing that the Internet was going to be an asset to businesses, they began brainstorming about a profitable way to move their boards.
As a newly formed partnership, they first began selling boards, garage-sale style, on week-ends in Stacy’s front yard on Ave. Cabrillo. It was the ideal spot to attract tourists and other visitors. But before long the city got wind of the venture and outlawed the process. Undaunted, when Stacy heard about a swap meet at San Clemente High School, the duo set up and sold boards there. Due to their success at that swap meet they believed they could create a viable business and were soon offered a small rental space in Brad Basham’s Factory and Surf shop on Los Molinos Street. Soon needing more space, they moved across the street into a small area of a friend’s warehouse. From there the business began expanding and has now landed in the large space it occupies in the district today.
“Maurice has been the idea guy for our venture,” Volkart explained. “I manage the business end, following my instincts, just doing what I know how to do. Establishing this business has involved perseverance, a lot of hard work, long hours and about five years before really taking off. But it’s been worth it to be able to do what we love in exactly the place we want to be.”
Filling in as partner in charge of hiring employees, Volkart applies her belief that when you speak what you want, it comes to you to the process. She says she gives her needs to the universe asking for a good person to hire. Once hired she looks for the hidden treasure within them, what they are good at, and guides them into their niche in the business, the place where they will fit best. She cites their manager, Brandon Boone, as an example of an employee who has grown in his niche, working his way up to manager and becoming a rock the business relies on.
“Most of our employees are surfers, who understand the needs and wants of our customers. For some patrons the location and immensity of our shop can be intimidating and we strive to create an atmosphere where they will feel welcomed and comfortable. We want to help them purchase what they need to help them be the best surfers they can be. We just want to fuel their stoke!”
For Stacy this business has been an ever-evolving enterprise. At this point in its evolution, she feels as though she is in a space that she has never occupied before. Although she is excited about where things are going, she also feels a little overwhelmed, but knows she will figure it out. And as the business continues growing, one of the things she looks forward to is a time of getting out from behind her desk to be more involved in the community; some of her pet projects being to help competing surfers, to get more involved in the clean-up of our local beaches and to host more events to support new ideas, people and products
“This has been such a great area to work in and there has been so much support and encouragement for us and our business that we want to give back in ways that will benefit the lifestyle of this community the most.”
As for the immediate future, Stacy Ross Volkart plans to continue co-operating the business that she loves, along with people she admires, in a place she wouldn’t trade for any other. And in her spare time, she plans to continue enjoying an outdoor life of surfing, snowboarding, camping and hiking with her husband of 10 years Urs and their four-year-old son August.
216 Los Molinos, San Clemente
(949) 310-6602 usedsurf.com