Fort George Beer and Surfboards: Cannon Beach Merchant Offers One-Stop Shopping

Interview with Mark Mekenas, Owner of Cannon Beach Surf and CB Beach Store

Q: Describe your business including what you sell, and how long you’ve been up and running.

A: The CB Beach Store was set up in December 2008 after we had leased the Family Market for 10 years we decided that since we own the building with the surf shop, it didn’t make sense to lease space in another building.  The CB Beach Store sells beer, wine, some groceries, snack items, sodas, lottery, cigars and cigarettes, beach toys, fishing and some hunting tackle, and fishing licenses.

Q: How are the surf shop and market related? What’s it like juggling two different businesses?

A: Both businesses share the same building, and are accessible with a doorway between them.  A customer can pay for the products in either store, except for beer and wine, those can only be purchased in the CB Beach Store.  It is fairly easy, as they both play off each other very nicely.  A customer can hit the surf shop, pick up the equipment for the day, then hit the beach store, and get all the snacks, etc. for a day at the beach.

Q: What made you decide to become a small business owner, and what are the biggest challenges and rewards?

A: After 30 years in the corporate world (alcoholic beverages), and constant travel, the idea of being in one place and working for ourselves seemed like the right thing to do at our time in life.  Challenges are the daily biz.  Rewards are when everything works right.  Both of these are a daily occurrence.

Q: Why did you decide to start carrying Fort George beer and what would you like to tell customers about your selection of craft beers and the experience of shopping for them at your place?

A: Fort George fits perfectly in our business plan, as we were just getting ready to start pairing down our selection of big named corporate brands, and focusing on smaller local beer brands.  So, when the rep. walked in the door, we were ready for him, as I was just about to call you guys.  Our focus is on higher quality products in all the stores; Fort George fits that requirement perfectly.

Q: What’s business like this time of year in Cannon Beach and what’s it like riding the peaks and troughs of slower and busier months in a place with seasonal tourism?

A: This time of the year, every day is different, some are slow, and then some are surprisingly busy.  The weather plays a big part in day-to-day business, but then we do find that certain products that we carry still have draws year round.  The toughest part of the seasonal business is staffing and inventory, always a crapshoot.

Q: What are your future hopes and dreams?

A: Keep growing, keep remodeling, and adding new products to our stores.

Q: Finally, enough about your business, tell us a little about your background including where you’re from, family-life, education, hobbies, etc.

A: We are originally from San Diego, left in ‘80, moved to Idaho, then to Seattle, took an early retirement package in ‘98 and moved to Cannon Beach.  Married to Maria (today is our 38th anniversary), 2 kids, Jennifer, prior Army, now mom and  works at Bank of Astoria in CB , 2 granddaughters, 8 and 4, they all live in Gearhart.  Our son is in Seattle is still a reserve Captain in the Air Force, did 10 years active, and now working for Olive Garden.   I surf and shoot, while Maria mostly enjoys her gardening.  My background was Division Manager in the whiskey business, covering 11 Northwest states, Alaska, and Hawaii.

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