History of the store as told by Neil Marwick

I am really stoked that there is new blood in the old shop and that it is still running after all these years.

If I remember correctly Natural Energy first opened in 1981, the first week in December. It was not a big day of trading by any means!

When I had a sale of summer goods in Easter somebody walked in and said: ‘Oh is this a closing down sale? We were taking bets as to how long you would last as a surf shop in Strand’. He who laughs last!

I was shaping boards full time then and only spent a small amount of time in the shop. Then the next year when my stepbrother (he was the manager at the time) got killed on New Year’s Day and I had to be in the shop full time. It was an incredible amount of work, a couple of nights working right through. That following December we had a staff of 10 with 2 shifts from 7 am until 9 at night, 7 days a week.

We were the first shop in Strand to stay open Saturday afternoons and then Sundays. We stayed open at lunchtime because all the other shops closed and we did good business with their staff. The only way I could get an article in the District Mail was to take out an advert and then they would give one a small amount of editorial coverage. We ran the first contests with big prizes and held the prize-givings in the arcade behind the shop with people from Cape Town and locals all together. When I started Surf Rats it was a huge breakthrough. We visited local headmasters and sports masters and they earned a better understanding about the sport of surfing, and PV allowed a teacher to take the guys surfing in a school bus. Some of the schools even started giving house colours (awards) for surfing.

I believe Surf Rats developed many good surfers with good attitudes that have gone on to do really well, Gunter, Duane, Timmy Rankin, Pottie, Rudolf, Danie, Le Roux and Chris, just to mention a few. Daniel Benade (A top Paddle ski man and now at Benbel) came in as a partner when I had started PSP, Skil surfboards and a diving school in Gordon’s Bay. We were doing surfing, diving and windsurfing equipment at that stage, and even ran some windsurfing contests for Western Province Windsurfing with an expo and prize-giving. At that stage we had 4 shops: Strand, Tableview, Hermanus and Stellenbosch, with an agency in Struisbaai for windsurfing and diving. A couple of years later Daniel left to start a chain of Midas Hardware shops and I reduced the size of the business back to the hardcore Natural Energy and Hardcore surfboards label.

I recently saw that the building where I started building boards has been demolished (just down from Grahams, on Strand Main Road). It felt like the end of an era for me.

What a ride it all was!
I later sold the shop to Remi and Silvi Delsouiller. They had the store for quite a few years and then sold to Gavin Bothwell who ran it for about 5 years.He then sold to Shane Pratt who owned the store with his late wife Taryn. Shane sold the store to Jan Nelson in December 2013.

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