Merrick boards, $650

I know they are good boards, but they are not worth $650. How much do you guys think Channel Islands sells them to people for retail, so the price they sell them to stores?

I don’t think $650 is a bad price, depending on the finish and model board from CI.  Honestly, they have a great variety of models.  I bought a keel fish about 6 years ago or so, before I started ever thinking about shaping and I believe i paid close to $650, resin tint, gloss, the whole trip.  Super good board, got $450 out of it when I sold it after riding it for 3 years.  So in all not a bad investment.


Well you better call and let them know before another willing buyer pays $650 for one.



I have a LLC..

I pay taxes and have insurance.

We have a CNC Machine.

I do not use a ghost shaper.

We have in house glassing.

I buy my blanks in bulk and get a proper discount.

I take orders on Monday and deliver the boards on Thursday.

There are guys that do it much cheaper and take 6 weeks as a norm.

We scan boards and make Shape 3D files for board companies. (Bread and Butter)

Knowing how to build boards helps us to communicate.

We like to provide the picks and shovels and let the board builders find the gold!

Sure I can make a custom however if a surfer can save $5.00 he will.

Making boards for shops is scary because retailers use your money to finace themselves.

$650 for a Retail Surfboard is actually a fair price if everyone gets paid correctly!

Here in oregon ,a custom board cost’s $550. I remember in High school …late 80’s boards were about $250. Whats going on? How much are you guys paying for boards? Then I started to look into shaping my own board. I think I remember calling a local glasser and getting a quote of “in the $325 range”. Jesus … I’m thinking $650 might be a good deal for an Al Merrick.Is this about right? Fill us in here.


I know they are good boards, but they are not worth $650. How much do you guys think Channel Islands sells them to people for retail, so the price they sell them to stores?



Build your own. Update your user profile. Post photos of boards you build...

Why do you worry so much about the top brands?

They don't care about me...I don't care about them.........

If you need to get your "Top Brand" surfboard repaired you can contact me via Swaylocks PM.

I'm in San Marcos, California. I do glassing too...........




I know they are good boards, but they are not worth $650. How much do you guys think Channel Islands sells them to people for retail, so the price they sell them to stores?


$650 is cheap for a CI, Rusty, Stretch, JC, JS, COLE, Patterson, Hamish, Chile, LOST, DHD, Simon Anderson, BREWER, LINDEN. I can go on and on. Surfboards are under priced as they are. Those on Swaylocks who build their own boards should know that a lot of work is involed and the materials are not getting any cheaper. When back yard boards are $400 and it's iffy with the board will even work right?

$650 is a pretty low price to pay for a board off the rack that you can touch feel and know what you are buying and have it right then and there. The head shaper like a Merrick or a Rusty or any other master board designer puts a lot of know how into a design and delivers a fine retail product. There is a market for people who want a board they can see touch and feel without waiting for weeks. There is also a market for guys who want a custom and only will ride customs and that's a different segment all together.

To say that $650 is too much for a retail board?

I'm sorry but I have to disagree.

1. Make your own board 

2. Take the total amount of material and subtract it from $650.00

3. Take the balance and divide it by the hours spent.

4. Compare your quality with a professionally built board by experienced craftsman?

5. CNC Operator, Finish Shaper, Laminator, Hotcoater and Fin Setter, Sander, Airbrusher, Designer, Packaging, Transportation, Marketing

6. If your on Swaylocks it's so you can build your own or share your methods of building.

7. For some people $650 is a great value!

8. Not everyone builds boards.

9. The retailers don't make that much on boards. It's the accessories that bring in the revenue. The board is the attaction. Around that life style of surfing is the need for (Traction, Leash, Board Bag, Wet Suit). Now your a surfer! So you need to look like one? Surf branded jeans, Shirts, Trunks, Shoes, Socks, Belt, Sun Glasses, Watch. It all starts with the board. Just like McDonald's the margin is low on a BIG MAC it's the French Fries and Drinks that they make their margin.

Trust me there is little money in surfboards.

You got to love it!

Let the board builders make a little scratch.

Share some love!






I know they are good boards, but they are not worth $650.


Maybe not to you, but apparently there are plenty of people willing to pay that.


How much do you guys think Channel Islands sells them to people for retail, so the price they sell them to stores?


It's been a while since I was in the retail board biz. Since then, it's gotten more competitive, so costs are up and markups are down. But, what I was doing was....

Figure base price of around $500-525. Add

$25 per board fin charges

$50 per board shipping. You come up with a final cost to the shop of around $575-600. The markup on surfboards sucks. Big time. Better to sell six t-shirts and a hat than a surfboard. The markup on those is a whole lot better.

The board maker's idiot kid bought an airbrush, and went nuts on some blanks. Surprise, half your shipment has 'art' on 'em. If there's any color, 'art' or any of that crap on a board, the price to you goes up, even if it's really, really ugly and makes the board unsellable.  You don't make any profit on the art crap, you might be able to pass along the extra cost as a slightly higher price, if it's not too ugly. If it's too ugly, you might discount it enough to get it out the door. For less than you paid for it. Complain to the board maker? Yeah, right, you have then insulted his wonderfully artistic child, and suddenly you can only get his factory seconds, but you will still pay full price for them. Funny how that works.

Oh, and- if a board comes through with shipping damage, you have to fix it ( $50 and up) and sell it at a discount ( basicly, a price under your cost) so that if you have, say, two boards with shipping dings in a shipment of 10, you might break even on the shipment.

Collecting from the shipping company? Fat freakin' chance there, by the time you figure in your time and effort and such to collect damages you lose money, so you eat the cost of he damage. besides which if you collect $100, then your shipping charges just went from $50 a board to $100 a board, funny how that works too.

Oh, it gets better too. You just got in a dozen Garbanzos, from Legume Surfboards. Neat. But what Charlie Legume didn't tell you is that they are about to bring out a new model, the ChickPea, and advertise the hell out of it. And when it comes out, your Garbanzos are old news, if you can sell them at all, you wind up selling them for less than you paid for them. Isn't that nice?

Dweeb McGink comes in, picks up one of your new boards to look at it, bashes it into the ceiling ( oops) and then puts it back in the rack wrong, so that it falls over and bangs into another board. That just cost you the profit on both boards.

Then..... you sold a board to Nimrod Funkwit, and you got your $650. neat. But Nimrod also wants a free t-shirt, a free leash and a lifetime of free wax. Or else he'll go and get his online or from your competitor down the road. No profit on that board either.

Selling surfboards sucks. They are loss leaders, if you know what those are. Things you have in stock to bring customers in the door and keep in the hope that you'll sell stuff to them that you can actually make money on.  At the same time, you have a very big percentage of your inventory budget tied up in 'em, and that's money you can't spend on t-shirts and hats and such that there is a decent profit in. So, you sit there in your surf shop and look at your money, sitting there and doing you no good at all.

It's kinda like having your ex-wife at work, all the time, staring at you.

Welcome to the surf shop biz.....



I must say Doc from your perpective that was well put!


                Sounds reasonable to me  .     I was thinking about ordering  a board  , now  for sure I am  . Its gonna be a long board though  . support your local shaper .   surfs up today lets get wet , on my way now  .


                     aloha jt



I must say Doc from your perpective that was well put!



Well, thanks. I do try... and you did a nice job describing the costs of making 'em. And if I may, let me take that a little further.

What does your (name brand, bought retail) surfboard cost?

Start off with a blank. Using Fiberglass Supply as a price base and a 7-something board, lets sort it out -

Blank, $100 plus shipping. And we'll figure all the others have to be shipped too.

Cloth: $30 or so

Resin -poly, call it $50, epoxy is double that.

Fin box(es) - call it $10-20

Fins- $20-50

Okay, that's basic materials. Lets call it $250. Yes, a big board maker will be getting a quantity discount, But they have other costs, it all comes out in the wash.

Labor costs:

Shaper: lets call it $25 - some (most) make more, some make less. And from here, it's guesswork, but not bad guesswork.

Glasser: same

Hotcoater and fins: $20

Sander: $20

Polishing: $10

Lets call labor another hundred, total. We are now up to around $350.

Sandpaper, sanding discs, polish, brushes, solvents - call it another $20

Rent on your factory building - $5 per board isn't way out of line.

Electricity - $5 per board, figuring in everything from power tools to running your secretary's computer

Trash hauling: and janitorial: $10

Office expense - $20, including phone bills, secretary's salary and your idiot  brother in law who needed a job.

Promotion and advertising - $10 per board. This is probably very low. Magazine ads are damned expensive, as are videos, promos, trade shows and so on.

"Team" - you know, those parasitic clowns who get their boards and travel expenses and so on free, plus another nice chunk of dough in pay. Yep, $10 per board.

Insurance, including health, workman's comp, fire, liability etc. - if it's only $20 per board, it's a miracle.

Vehicle expenses: $5, you gotta haul stuff, not everything is getting delivered.

So where are we? Around $450 per board, by the time it goes out the door. And there are things like payroll, payroll taxes ( 10% of your labor costs), federal state and local taxes (10% of net)  and what have you that I have left out, but on the other hand some of my guesstimates are probably a little high, some low - lets call it a total cost of around $450 or more.

Oh, and- you sold a dozen boards in, lets say, Northern Califoirnia. Your norcal factory rep is on commission plus salary. Thwack.

So, $500 per board, wholesale? Not that unreasonable at all. We are not talking about 'gouging' here, we're talking about net profit percentages in single digits to the business owner.

Though if I had the money to set up a surfboard factory, I think I'd just invest it and live off the interest. More money in that. And less headaches.

hope that's of use...



Well doc that is a perspective I had not considered. That explains all the little clothing stores that cater to surfers and skaters but dont carry hard goods. I am personally happy to spend the money on a custom.

As for CI boards they certainly have a following. If you find a board you like you can get exact duplicates which could be valuable to some people.

yeah, the price is just a set point that is determined by the market demands.  Yeah, the last time I bought a board from a shop was…, well, …geez, I’ve never bought a board from a shop before.  Damn, 30 years and tons of boards and never a store bought board.  I have way more fun making my own now, and they ride pretty good too.

In reality, I would think the price would drop as the “artistry” has been engineered, mechanized, computerized and outsourced.  These are steps required to realize increased efficiency and mitigate the human labor loss issues involved in a typical production flow.  Will it happen?  I don’t know.  I don’t keep up with business.  What happened to wind surf boards?  I’ll keep supporting my friends in the business as much as I can.

You can get Merrick boards for $650?  They're closer to $750 when I see 'em.  Heck, Firewires are $650 and they're mass produced, I think.

$425 for Wholesale.

custom is actually cheaper?


'Custom' made by somebody who isn't a 'legit business', with a tax number and all the overhead that being a legitimate business entails, that's definitely cheaper.

You don't have -

Insurance costs

Team and promotion costs

%$#@@& advertising costs



Reps and all that overhead

Office overhead

Other costs I didn't think of.....

Plus, if Joe Down The Street makes it, it's really yours. You had some real input, not just filling in a form and hoping for the best. He's right Down The Street, and he will stand behind it and listen to your feedback.

Or, he won't, and you chalk that board up to experience and go to Louie Further Down The Road.

And..he's not a production guy. That's good and bad. The good is, maybe if he's not 'on' that day, he'll bag it and go surfing and come back and do your board when he's feeling up and into it.

The bad is that he might not be, say, a Phil Becker, come in with a horrible hangover and fire up the Rockwell 653 and crank out board after board that are smack on 'cos he's done it fifty thousand times before and it's a reflex. He might not be the greatest glasser going on his bad days, he might be a better shaper than glasser or vice versa.

I'm not even gonna start on how good a sander he might be. I will say that a bad sander can ruin a board in a moment. A good sander can help it considerable. And it's an acquired skill in production quantities. That I haven't got. I admire those guys, underrated as they are.

Heh- and here we are on Sways, which is all about regular humans making boards. And....this is why.

It's a helluva note, after all the economics and monetary systems blather we've had of late, the economics of having a really right board drives ya here. To do your own....


im in oz and have been surfing for 20 years.

for the first 5 or 6 years I was on various 2nd hand, hand me down boards (some of which I wish I still had). On my 18th birthday (wooohoooo legal drinking age!) I was given my first NEW 6'6" shortboard. It was "ON SALE" and cost around the $500 mark (down from around $550-$600).

These days basic shortboards (white, fcs or glass ons) can be picked up for around $650-$750 where I live (local shapers) and some mobs advertise boards starting at $450!

So Im talking 15 years ago when I was 18 boards seemed to be around the $600 mark. Now they seem to be around the $750 mark. Thats an increase of around 25% over 15 years. Im not sure but that doesnt seem like a hell of a lot givem all the factors that go in to pricing of a board, including all the overheads thats been mentioned in the preceeding posts....the way the property market is down my way (mornington peninsula) rent would have increased way more than 25%!!!

Gimme ya thoughts


the price of the american dream is expensive. i used to want to be a professional shaper for the rest of my life but after making boards for friends and friends of friends ive realized that it can get to be a pain and i can get burnt out when i have a guy calling me every day for 3 weeks straight wondering when his board is going to be done.  its always going to be my favorite hobby, but its clearly tough to make it a buisness. doc and surfding made it clear that the price of materials is cheap in relativity to the price of everything thats required to start and maintain a buisness. thank you for that