It all started in 1959, with the cottage on the lake, where what now is the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
The 6 Lewis children would spend their summers on Lake Michigan with Muzzy, while Fuzzy would commute 8 hours from Indiana every weekend to indulge in the glory of the massive body of water which was their front yard. There, as the eldest of the clan recalls, “the enthusiasm to ride waves lead to anything from body surfing, rafts, inner tubes, riding canoes, sailboats- most often catamarans”. Beryl (co-owner of SBSK) has spent each summer of her life but one here in Empire. She met captain Frank, brought three rambunctious humans into the world, and after scurrying away from the hustle of southern Michigan as many days of the week as we could, moved north.
In 2004 we finally made Empire our year-round home and went out on a limb by opening a freshwater surf shop, the first full-service surf shop in the state of Michigan, and the longest standing shop to date! It was opened with the intention to bring opportunity to those who had yet to see the spectacle of the immense sand dunes from the water, and to provide surf craft to those who played in the waves of this mighty lake, for there was no other place around to do so.
Everyone called us crazy. “You can’t surf on a lake”. And then there were those who said “Finally”, “About time”. This business is pure passion, pure love for the lake, our bountiful playground, and the community that supports us year after year.
Roaring, windy and wild or quiet, glassy and peaceful; Lake Michigan has always been the most important part of our lifestyle. It was this love of our Great Lake that prompted us to open Sleeping Bear Surf & Kayak
Sleeping Bear Surf & Kayak has become much more than just a surf shop packed with the latest, greatest, most high quality gear & apparel; it’s a place that has built a solid and growing surf community, and a hub for Northern Michigan watermen.
In 2006, we introduced stand-up paddling to the midwest years before it became the popular and mainstream sport that it is today. We continue to seek out new freshwater activities and gear so that we can share even more stoke. If there’s something that you’ve been interested in checking out or would like to see us carry, come in and talk to us – we love to hear from our customers!
We’re excited about what we do and want to share it with everyone who steps into our shop. You’ll always be greeted with a smile and friendly, knowledgeable service… and probably a Skrocki – as we have been family owned and operated since day one!
Whether it’s surf, SUP, kayak, skim, skateboards, bikes or gigantic inflatable SUPS, we are all about promoting free-ride fun for the entire family. Stop in today and check out how you, too, can Live the Freshwater Life!