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This Week's Featured Business: ISLAND WATER SPORTS

Photo by Liz Dzuro of the University Press www.upressonline.com

This Week's Featured Business: ISLAND WATER SPORTS

Published: 04/18/2011 by Janet

» Business News

The Iconic Deerfield Beach Shop:  Island Water Sports


How many times have you given directions for something down by the beach and said “look for the store with the shark in the roof”.  I know I’ve done it more than a couple times.  If there was a business in Deerfield Beach that encapsulates our vibe, Island Water Sports would be one of a very few that could fill that description.  It’s hard to imagine Deerfield Beach without Island Water Sports.    


Island Water Sports (or IWS, as it is commonly known) made its debut in 1978, when Kirk Cottrell opened a tiny 500 square foot shop in Pompano Beach off Atlantic Blvd. with a $15,000 investment.   Being off the “beaten path”, sales were slow and break-ins were common, but they didn’t give up on their vision.  By the fall of 1979, they made the decision to move the shop to Deerfield Beach where they felt that there would be less competition (and fewer break-ins).   Hurricane David swung by, waves were great and IWS had a great boost to their grand re-opening. 


In 1982, IWS moved once again to its current location which was closer to the beach; a store three times the size of the previous one.  What initially seemed like a scarily huge store quickly became too small; sales took off as they added more surf and resort wear, shoes, skate boards and accessories to their already growing line of surf boards.  Business continued to boom, and boom some more. 


At one point in the 1980’s there were 26 IWS stores.  When the economy tanked in the 1990’s so did sales, and the owners found themselves heavily in debt.  At that time, they jettisoned all the unprofitable stores, recommitted themselves to their surfing roots and within 5 years were able to pay off all the accumulated debt.  They adopted a more conservative approach to business, having learned some painful business lessons. 


IWS founder Kirk Cottrell was more than just a man with a love of surfing who looked to turn his passion into a business and a lifestyle.  He as a true waterman.  A deeply spiritual man, he was also a messenger and leader in the Christian ministry.  He was born in South Florida, attended Boca Raton High School, attended the University of Florida, and then graduated from Philadelphia Bible College in 1978, when he moved back to South Florida and started up Island Water Sports.   In 1980 he married Lucinda, and children Cheyne, Karly and Linsey soon followed. 


In 1997 Kirk made the decision to leave the United States and head for South Africa as a missionary.  His ministry there lasted almost 5 years, until his untimely death in a surfing accident.  Pastor Mark Davis of Calvary Chapel in Ft. Lauderdale said of Cottrell, “Kirk loved life, and he lived it to the fullest.  Kirk loved his family, loved his wife, loved his children, loved the ministry, and loved his friends.  Kirk knew how to love.  He touched so many people.”


IWS is now run by Kirk's son, Cheyne Cottrell along with his mom, sisters and several close family friends.  Cheyne took his first steps as a baby in the store he now manages!  He also maintains a professional surfing career, as do many of the employees, insuring they are always right on top of developments in the surfing world.    


IWS is more than a business in Deerfield Beach.  It is the heart and soul of the surfing and beach community in Deerfield Beach.  What sets IWS apart is their outreach to our community whether through free Saturday morning surfing lesson (boards provided), skater exhibitions, Bar-B-Q’s, free parking lot music concerts, ministry, or just keeping kids occupied, off the streets and "stoked" about surfing, skating and life.  


Can you imagine Deerfield Beach without Island Water Sports?  They are so much a part of the fabric of life here in our beach community that would be hard to picture.   Hopefully, as long as the waves keep rolling in, IWS will keep us riding them.