By Ryan Miller
Out on the sandy beaches with the smell of surf wax and salt water in the air, surfers paddle out, catch a swell and glide on the water. Surfing in Virginia Beach is a way of life, and Make And Ride (MAR) Surf Exchange is building a community by creating surfboards and relationships for a positive lifestyle outside of the water.
Located at Virginia Beach’s Hilltop, MAR Surf Exchange began several years ago as Dirtbag Surf Co., a name that Founder and Head Shaper Nick Halleran says was sure to be short-lived. The company underwent rebranding and opened their new location in January, offering a workshop for one-on-one lessons and group shaping classes with the guidance from an instructor to make your own board.
Halleran took up surfboard shaping in his youth after volunteering with the high school ministry Young Life, developing the skills of working with his hands while creating a fun atmosphere. That interaction led Halleran to establish his business. “Sitting in a little shed by myself making boards all day really wasn’t scratching the itch,” elaborates Halleran. “So I decided to combine the two things I love, which was making boards and caring for people.” MAR believes that interacting and engaging with individuals creating their boards causes a ripple effect. “The big vision for us is that the relationships that you build while you’re making your board and the relationships that get built when people ask about the board that you’re riding that you made yourself will ultimately have a bigger impact on the whole surf culture here, that it will become more of a community.”
While they mostly help build out shortboards and hard-to-find alternative boards, MAR customizes a miscellany of styles. “We make everything here, and that’s a huge part of why I love this business as opposed to just being in a factory and making the same 10 or 12 models day after day. It’s rare that I ever make the same board twice,” explains Halleran. From the functional details of the shape to aesthetics such as the color and paintwork, the experience and board is completely personalized at MAR. “We love that our boards are just as unique as all the people we get to interact with.”
Visit Make And Ride Surf Exchange at 617 Jack Rabbit Rd. Suite G, Virginia Beach and online at MARSurfExchange.com.