This article first appeared in the August 24, 2001 edition of the Ojai Valley News. It is reprinted here with their permission. The photo of the Surf Shop was added by the Ojai Valley Museum.
Ojai runs thick in Neal Mashburn’s veins. The third-generation native has called this valley his home for all of his 31 years. And he’s been under the watchful eye of the community thanks to his well-known mom, Arlou.
His mom was named Ojai’s Woman of the Year in 1989, was the grand marshal of the Fourth of July parade and ran the Youth Employment Service for a number of years. But since his father Harold’s death about three years ago his mom has been less active in the community.
“Now she just lays low, clips coupons and keeps out of sight,” he says.
When he’s not working at his Oak View business, Beatched, he helps her with yard work and has often thought of writing a book. He’ll call it, “Thoughts of Pop While Riding the Lawn Mower.”
“His most enjoyable time was taking care of the yard,” Neal says.
Neal’s grandmother moved to Ojai from Indiana. She worked at Rains for about 30 years, he says, and saved her money. When she died each of the half-dozen kids got a little inheritance. Since he didn’t want to work for anyone else, he decided the best way he could honor Grandma’s legacy was to start a retail shop, Beatched was born more than six years ago, and has grown each year.
“I make a living,” he says.
Neal admits that he’s a natural-born salesman. And he says that he can read his customers within seconds of waltzing through the door. He has built his successful reputation by offering what customers ask for. There’s T-shirts, grass skirts, skate and surf boards, stickers, sandals, posters, wet suits and vinyl record albums. And that’s a partial list of the inventory. Recently he’s begun offering one-on-one surf lessons. And he opens the parking lot to a free concert party every Memorial Day weekend.
Neal too, proudly confesses his true love for Summer. Not only the season, but the adorable blonde who’s served at the Ojai Brew Pub since opening day and graces a lingerie ad that shows up regularly in the Ojai-Ventura Voice newspaper. They’ve been together for nearly five years.
“She’s made me better,” he says.
So with Beatched, Summer, surfing, skating, and a love for the warmth of the valley, it’s no wonder that Neal says, “Ojai has just been all about friends.”
It’s paradise. It’s home.