The daily Astorian. (Astoria, Or.) 1961-current, August 03, 2019, WEEKEND EDITION, Page A6, Image 6

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THE ASTORIAN • SATuRdAy, AuguST 3, 2019
Hailey Hoffman/The Astorian
Wetsuits for sale at Cleanline Surf.
Cleanline Surf: Reviews show customers appreciate personal touch
Continued from Page A1
“One of the things for
us is that our water here is
cold year-round,” said Dave
Koller, Cleanline’s gen-
eral manager. “In East Coast
shops and Southern Cal-
ifornia shops, they have
cold water seasonally. With
our water being cold year-
round, we’ve always had the
Gizdavich shows off new wetsuit technology — a fuzzy lining inside the suit that helps surfers
stay warm.
By 2010, Cleanline was
moving between five and 10
wetsuits a day online. Gizda-
vich moved out of his father’s
offices and into his current
location at the former Sea-
side Public Library on U.S.
Highway 101 across from
Broadway Middle School.
The sale of his dad’s offices
went toward acquiring a
nearby warehouse Gizdav-
ich has filled from floor to
ceiling with several thousand
About a quarter of the
upward of 40 people Gizda-
vich employs handle online
orders from the warehouse.
In a bank of offices upstairs,
workers answer phone calls
and chat messages, trouble-
shooting and communicating
with customers about their
“We’re literally like an
online shop that people would
physically walk into,” said
Dallas Pattie, a shipper for
Cleanline. “They’re stoked
when we remember what they
ordered last time, and then we
ask them how it’s going.”
Heading up the e-com-
merce business in the ware-
house is Matt Gabriel, who
worked at the surf shop
during summers in high
school and college. Gabriel
has since taken Cleanline’s
website through two rebuilds
to help the surf shop become
a more competitive global
Cleanline used to put any-
thing hot on its website for
sale, Gabriel said, but is now
at the point of winnowing
its online store and focusing
on the surfing gear its staff,
almost all of whom are at
least periodic surfers, knows
so well.
“We’ve thought about
going on Amazon, but I
don’t think we ever will, just
because that’s not our style,”
he said.
Hanging in the corner of
Cleanline’s Seaside show-
room dedicated to wetsuits
is one of Gizdavich’s first, a
heavy, stiff and uncomfort-
able onesie more reminiscent
of an immersion suit. Giz-
davich remembers skipping
classes to go surfing, return-
ing to class bleeding through
his T-shirt from the rashes in
the tough early wetsuits.
“It’s just amazing how far
suits have come and the tech-
nology,” he said. “That thing
would just rub on your skin
like cement. I still have per-
manent scars on my armpits.”
Improvements in gear
have helped expand surf-
ing from warm waters to a
worldwide sport Cleanline
helps supply. Gizdavich also
ascribes to the “Blue Crush”
theory about how the 2002
movie about female surf-
ers accelerated the sport’s
“When ‘Blue Crush’ was
over and all these women
started surfing, they had boy-
friends, so the boyfriend had
to start surfing,” he said.
“And then six months later,
they broke up, and you’ve got
new boyfriends and new girl-
friends who had to start surf-
ing. And then a year later,
they broke up. And then a
year later, they broke up.”
Cleanline Surf now com-
pletes 35 to 40 orders on a
given day, and up to 700 on
Black Friday, mostly online.
Rarely does the shop not ship
out an order made before
9 a.m. the same day.
Five-star reviews
In a tradition Gizdavich
has held on to from his early
days, every order is topped
with Starburst, stickers and a
handwritten postcard thank-
ing the customer for choos-
ing Cleanline. The compa-
ny’s sterling, mostly five-star
reviews online tell the story of
a customer base that, beyond
the lack of sales tax, appreci-
ates the personal touch.
“My box came with my
wetsuit, stickers, a hand-
written note, candy and wax
made for my city’s waters,”
said a customer from San
Francisco on Yelp in her five-
star review. “This was just
so considerate that I would
never imagine shopping any-
where else again.”
Aside from the improve-
ments in online commerce,
the local knowledge and the
personal touches, Gabriel has
a simpler explanation for why
the Seaside surf shop has been
so successful in a highly com-
petitive online marketplace.
“Surfers want to buy from
surfers, and they want to sup-
port a surf shop,” Gabriel
said. “All the guys that
answer the phone are surfers
that know the product, and
they’re stoked on it.”
Grocery Outlet: Co-op general manager ‘not afraid of competition’
Continued from Page A1
arguments raised by law-
yers representing the Astoria
Co+op and a Facebook group
called Responsible Growth
The Astoria Co+op has
hired a land use attorney, as
well as a traffic engineer, to
argue against Grocery Out-
let’s application.
“We’re not afraid of com-
petition,” said Matt Stan-
ley, the co-op’s general man-
ager, a statement that would
be repeated by others repre-
senting the organic and natu-
ral food store.
Stanley went on to high-
light what the co-op offers
and detailed the process the
co-op went through to land
approval for its new building
last year.
He and other co-op rep-
resentatives argued that the
location where Grocery Out-
let hopes to build is not the
right fit, citing issues with the
store’s plans to use Marine
Drive as its primary access
— an access the city typically
discourages in this area.
In a memo to the Design
Review Committee, Carrie
Richter, the co-op’s land use
attorney, contested several
design issues. She argued
that the proposed building’s
orientation and parking lay-
out did not meet the city’s
criteria and “fails to provide
a ‘pedestrian-oriented street’
front and no effort has been
made to limit or otherwise
hide parking areas from the
The co-op also faced
pushback about the location
and orientation of its building
when it was seeking approval
Hailey Hoffman/The Astorian
Access is an issue for a new Grocery Outlet proposed off
Marine Drive.
for a new store off Marine
Drive and 23rd Street. Much
of the criticism came from
property owners in the neigh-
boring Mill Pond Village.
The co-op also first sought
a zone change for the prop-
erty to switch it from mixed
use, where retail would be
allowed only as a conditional
use, to local service, where
retail is permitted outright.
People who said they
supported the idea of an
expanded co-op had simi-
lar concerns over increased
traffic on Marine Drive. Mill
Pond property owners were
especially worried about the
co-op’s plans to use a narrow
neighborhood road, Steam
Whistle Way, as the store’s
primary access.
After three Mill Pond
property owners appealed
the grocery store’s plans to
the City Council, the co-op
negotiated with them and
submitted new designs that
changed how the store would
be accessed.
Decisions by boards like
the Design Review Commit-
tee can be appealed to the
City Council and, ultimately,
to the state Land Use Board
of Appeals.
Facebook campaign
Portland-based attorney
Karl Anuta, who has rep-
resented groups in Clat-
sop County and The Dalles
opposing Walmart, wrote a
letter to the Design Review
Committee on behalf of
Responsible Growth Astoria.
He asked the committee to
reject the site plan or at least
ask Grocery Outlet to submit
alternative designs.
Responsible Growth Asto-
ria emerged as a Facebook
group in July that expressed
concerns about where Gro-
cery Outlet planned to build
and the potential impact of the
store on local businesses and
traffic. The group accused
the city of fast-tracking the
developers’ application.
But Responsible Growth
Astoria has since come
under scrutiny by residents
and community leaders who
say they do not know who is
behind the campaign. On its
Facebook page, the group
identifies itself only as “Asto-
ria residents, neighbors and
merchants who love our