Golden Breed flagship store to transform Hasting St
Leaving high school in 1978, Nick van de Merwe's lofty ambition was to become a "global ski and surf bum" but along the way some serious business sidetracked him.
His travels took him to Bali in 1975 where he bought a surfboard off Surfing Walk of Fame member Randy Rarick and made the most of idyllic surfing before catching his first business break in 1984.
Fast forward 37 years and Mr van de Merwe was in Noosa this week looking at transforming the entrance to Hastings St with a Golden Breed flagship outlet at the Noosa Dr roundabout.
After buying the company in 1999, Mr van de Merwe has poured decades of hard-earned executive experience into successfully running Golden Breed outlets in Noosa, the Gold Coast, Byron Bay and Flinders in Victoria as well as online.
Mr van de Merwe hopes to have his new store with its proposed upstairs short-term stay built and open for business by Christmas.
"We're going to build that big surf shed there, at the moment it's just a like a little ex-hire business for cars," he said.
His brief to local award-winning architect Andrew Bock was an old school design with a modern take including 4m-high ceilings, and a "slick" two-bedroom unit upstairs with a roof garden.
"It's going to be a significant property by the end of it, that's for sure," he said.
Mr van de Merwe recalled how he came to own a brand that had been a surfing hallmark since 1969.
"I guess I was a rag trader, I worked for Pacific Dunlop for a long time," said the 59-year-old who is based on Victoria's Mornington Penisula said.
"I was the general manager for (Dunlop's) Everlast the boxing gear - I launched that back in Australia in 1994/1995," he said.
Before that Mr van de Merwe was the marketing manager for men's socks for Pacific's Holeproof brand.
"I learnt a lot about cut and sew and, at the time, surf was absolutely strong, but about to boom even more.
"Pacific was tossing up between buying Hang Ten, Lightning Bolt and they ended picking up the other two," he said.
"At that point I was about 39 or so and had just been working for a big company for 15 years or whatever and I went 'you know what? time to give it a go on my own so I said I'll buy it'," Mr van de Merwe said.
On Wednesday he combined business with pleasure making sure he indulged his surfing passion at Noosa's beach breaks.
"I'm not exactly the world's greatest surfer but I do love it," he said.
Mr van de Merwe said his businesses had survived through COVID-19 so far despite the enforced trading shutdowns for his stores.
"Before COVID came along I used to come up here and do the rounds about once a month or so," he said.
"We'd already invested a lot in the online store pre-COVID and that turned out to be a really good thing because that really took off," he said.