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  • Rick Wright

Surf, skate and sunglasses business is a family affair

When Lee and Forrest Heyden decided to quit working for a large car dealership and go into business for themselves, they didn’t stop at acquiring one – or even two – downtown Oceanside stores.

They bought three.

Father and son purchased Asylum Surf on one side of Mission Avenue and Asylum Skate and Sunglass Corner on the other side (next to the Regal Cinema). They’ve owned the two Asylum stores and the sunglasses shop for three years.

George Corbett, the previous owner, had called the surf store Action Beach when he founded it in 1991. He set up the skate store when the theaters were built in 2001 and the sunglasses store five or six years ago.

Corbett stayed on a bit to help the Heydens get acquainted with the business.

As would be expected, the one store sells surf supplies – boards, boogie boards, leashes, swim fins, hats, T-shirts, wet suits and other apparel as well as “tons of wax”, even “grass mats to change your clothes on”, Forrest Hayden said.

The other shop specializes in skateboards, “trunks” (the undercarriage of a skateboard), wheels and bearings and a full line of popular shoes for skateboarders.

The clientele differs, the Heydens said.

Surfers, Lee Heyden said, can come in at age 60 for basic needs less affected by changing times while skateboarders tend to be under 20 and much more attuned to the latest trends “We just try to stay on top” of the major changes in preferences, Lee Heyden said.

And, his son said, they also try to be budget-conscious, so they offer merchandise in all price ranges.

The sunglasses shop tends, Forrest Heyden said, to offer styles favored by the athletically active and not necessarily follow upscale fashion. “We probably are the largest sunglasses shop in the county,” he said.

Marines from Camp Pendleton make up a sizable clientele, Lee Heyden said, and the shops also are being patronized by guests at the new downtown hotels.

“We can not tell how much” (patronage) comes from the hotels, Lee Heyden said, “but it’s better than before.”

The Heydens have made a family affair of the business with Lee’s wife, Linda, handling the accounting and a “little sis” and a brother-in-law (Kelly Heredia and Todd Popoff) also involved. “Five of 17 (people working there) are family,” Forrest Heyden said.

Lee Heyden had been a manager at Toyota Carlsbad. Forrest worked in the service department.

“I hit an age milestone,” Lee Heyden said – he didn’t want to reveal which one - and decided “it was time to try something different.” Forrest, working in the same dealer’s service department for 10 years, opted to follow suit.

One of the best things, both men said, is being able to come to work in flip-flops and shorts. Lee Heyden had to wear a suit and tie at his previous job.

He said one of the neatest things is to walk outside the store, see the beach and smell the ocean air. “You just can’t beat it,” Forrest Heyden said.

Story and photos by Lola Sherman

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