November 19, 2007


At long last, Thalia Street Surf Shop on PCH in Laguna Beach reopened its doors last week after months of undergoing re-constructive surgery. And what’s been hiding beneath the veils and speculation is a swan unlike any other. But this transformation had help from local, legendary artists who make a special practice of retooling ordinary objects into extraordinary pieces.


Longtime LB resident/shop owner/lensman/designer/craftsman/stylist/hero Jim Olarte, along with Jeff Trenschel, played the lead roles in Thalia’s redesign, blending organic beach materials and vintage themes to create a stately yet understated vibe.

Having owned and operated the neighborhood’s famed “Locals Only” designer resale shop for over 24 years, Jim has spent a lifetime collecting and salvaging premiere art, clothing and furniture from bygone eras. To say he has an eye for the good stuff is putting it mildly.



Looking around Thalia’s new digs, the first thing regulars will notice is that the classic surfboards that once covered the ceiling are gone and have been replaced with ocean-teal-green paint that compliments the new cherry redwood flooring. Vintage tables are now scattered throughout, along with custom shelving made from recycled fencing, a more modern Formica cash wrap, hat stands made from driftwood, and three impressive chandeliers painstakingly crafted by Jim himself from the endless amounts of shattered fiberglass pieces he’s collected from the local breaks. But some of the most important pieces are those recovered from “Locals Only” prior to its closing, including the restored dressing room doors.


A self-proclaimed neo-Luddite, Jim vehemently avoids anything associated with modern technology. Preferring to work sans computer, website, cell phone, video camera, email or fax, his reputation proceeds him wherever he goes, and has made him the go-to guy for the likes of Abercrombie & Fitch, Swell.com, Roxy, Coors, and Samuel Adams (just to name a few), where he’s routinely called on to serve as a photo producer and visual stylist.

Look for upcoming featured columns from Jim and Jeff on localized art and style.