Surf shops in Lahaina seem to come and go like the trade winds. But one local owner wants to break that trend.
His name is Zane Monteleone. Born and bred on Maui, he’s a 22-year-old Lahainaluna High School graduate. He’s spent the last two years building his InZane Surf Co. into a shop he hopes will survive.
“I wanted to have a shop that would allow me to live in Lahaina for the rest of my life,” Monteleone says. “I wanted to do something that I really love and surfing is what I am passionate about.”
Monteleone’s parents have worked in the retail business since he was born. He attended Kamehameha III, Lahaina Intermediate and Lahainaluna. It was in high school that Monteleone says he realized that there were plenty of resources for students preparing for college, but not nearly as much for those who wanted to work right after graduating—those who wanted to become chefs, hair stylists, for instance.
When he graduated, Monteleone went straight into the restaurant business, starting at Lahaina’s Hard Rock Cafe. He says his time there brought him knowledge that would later help him out—mostly, how to run a business. When hired, he was just 17.
He also says he sought advice from friends and family who had started their own small businesses. After a few years in the restaurant industry, Monteleone decided to break out and start on his own. He thought of opening a surf shop, then began working through what he’d need to do to get it started.
“I started making surf designs and potential logos for the store,” Monteleone said. “One day I was hanging out with my Uncle Max and he called me InZane. It just stuck with me.”
The toughest part was saving enough money to start buying merchandise. Once the stuff came in, he went to work putting his logo on hats, collared shirts, t-shirts, shorts and swimsuits. The seemingly obvious site for his store was Front Street, but Monteleone ended up leasing a space in the Lahaina Center next to the Nagasako store.
“I want to keep my shop local,” he says. “Local as in a true local surf shop where people can come in, talk story, watch surf videos and talk about surfing trips. There is too much commotion on Front Street. I’d rather have local traffic. Plus, I think it’s cool that I am the only surf shop in Lahaina that isn’t corporately owned. All of those surf shops look like a department store with surfboards on the wall. I want to keep my store original.”
It certainly is that. Inside there are murals depicting a huge orange octopus, mermaid and sunset. My favorite is the mushrooms that adorn the left and right walls. The clothing is colorful and welcoming. There are the usual trucker hats, pin-stripped collared shirts, bikinis, camouflage shorts, short skirts and bags throughout the store.
Not so usual is the display case containing stickers that say, “Donkeys go home” and “I like ooph please” as well as beautiful jewelry from India. Television sets are on non-stop, showing surfers catching waves all over the world. Monteleone even put in a table with chairs to encourage customers to sit down and talk story.
“With strong support from ‘ohana and friends, you can achieve anything you want in life,” he says. So far, there’s every reason to believe he’s right.