“If you had any advice on either pursuing a small business or a dream what would you say, why is it worth it?”
“Well why is it worth it…that’s a question I would say you have to ask yourself. Why would you think it’s worth it? As far as someone trying to chase a dream or start a business, I mean obviously yeah finance is a big thing but what it boils down to is doing it. Keep your eyes set on it, yeah there is always going to be pros and cons but you kind of have to look over that. Don’t even look at the pros, don’t even look at the cons. If there is something you want to do, just do it.” –Brett Dobrovolny
Brett Dobrovolny moved to Maine from Chicago when he was fifteen years old. He got his first glimpse of surfing upon his arrival to Kennebunk. Brett thought he saw seals out in the water until he realized they were people surfing in the winter time. Brett accepted street skating had come to a close back in Chicago and knew he had to get into surfing. He begged his parents for a surf lesson and it has been a part of his life ever since. “It was tough since I was probably the only surfer in my high school that I was aware of, I would go out solo a lot. But everyone is there doing the same thing you are and that’s just to have a good time, which is what the sport is all about really.” After high school Brett studied Marketing at the University of Southern Maine. Brett said how during his college years, was when he had more freedom to show up to a class or not and surfing got more serious and was stuck in his brain. As a senior year rolled around Brett had a capstone class where he needed to decide what Marketing project he wanted to work on. The option to start your own business from scratch was the one he found most interesting because there was more freedom. During this time Brett taught surf lessons at a surf shop and was having trouble fixing his board until he met Ryan and Andy McDermott. He met the McDermott brothers through the local surf community and they fixed the board. Little did they all know the board had bad foam in it already and the board imploded again on Brett. The McDermott brothers felt bad and told him they would make him a custom board at no cost. About a month or so later Brett had finished up his senior project and designed a Surf Shop from scratch. He had written a 64 page business plan and had a 30 page excel worksheet of all the information needed to create a business. He got an A on the project and the professor told him he did really well and probably would have won a small business competition at USM if he knew about the deadline ahead of time.
About a month after graduation and a few months after he briefly met the McDermott brothers, Brett contacted them and said I got this awesome business plan, you guys should open up a surf shop. Ryan and Andy had been making and fixing surfboards for a while and wanted to open a shop but did not have the finances to do so. Brett decided he could put his life savings into it from when he was 14 years old and this surf shop could be a real possibility. Brett said “I had a gut feeling that it could do well, since surfing was growing and these guys were way adamant about it. Then they said ya let’s do it, and bam we all signed the papers.” In April of 2012 Black Point Surf Shop was created and became the first full service surf shop in Maine. They are located just a few miles away from Higgin’s beach and Scarborough beaches at 134 Black Point Road in Scarborough, ME.
The first year was slow and steady and Brett was working around the clock from the surf shop to another job to help support the beginning stages of Black Point Surf Shop. Brett worked with people who had mental illnesses for 12 hour shifts at a time then would put in time at the shop totaling up to 70 to 80 hours a week. “I started getting separated or disconnected from one job verses the other and vice versa because the rest that you need. That no one realizes you need for your mind, for normal thought processes, was slowly dissipating. Just like how are you feeling or your attitude. I mean I am not much of a sleeper anyways and I can charge through things but yeah it defiantly started taken a toll” Brett explained. By year two the business started picking up and Brett was able to switch up his work situation and get a little more rest but as a driven individual he is still working a few jobs. Currently Brett works as a Bar Security Supervisor and does Marketing for Casco Bay Ford. He said how he wants to also press into his Marketing career as well grow the surf shop. From the beginning stages of Black Point Surf Shop and before that Ryan McDermott and Andy McDermott always had surf board orders. “We pretty much have always had orders with no marketing and all of them were local custom made boards” Ryan shared. He also mentioned how during the first year of owning the surf shop he did some landscape gardening in Freeport but it was hard to do both jobs without neglecting one. Ryan said he had to stop landscaping by year two because the shop got a lot busier.
In the picture below it shows the shop’s exposed wooden beams that were originally put up in 1845 for Scarborough’s first church.
Prior to the creation of Black Point Surf Shop, Ryan and Andy McDermott were making surfboards out of a 30 ft contractor’s trailer in Freeport. Their passion for surfing started in high school and they are a great example of what happens when you follow your heart and live your dream. Andy was away on a work trip so Ryan shared how they started making surfboards while waxing a customer’s board.
Black Point Surf Shop is coming up on their third year anniversary in April. It is safe to say they are apart of the growing Maine surf community. Ryan agreed and said “I do somewhat blame myself for the growing surf community along with better wet suit technology.” Brett laughed and added “Ya, I’ll be like why is it so crowded…oh wait it’s that damn shop up the road!” Ryan followed up by saying how it is awesome seeing their Surf Shop sticker around the state or even in other country’s now and how they are happy to be a part of the growing surf community. As small business owner’s it takes a lot of dedication, hard work and ultimately the passion to be successful. It is clear that Brett Dobrovolny, Ryan McDermott and Andy McDermott are not only pioneers of Maine’s surfing community but also inspirational individuals who are living their dream! Below is a picture of Brett and Ryan in Black Point Surf Shop since Andy is currently away.