Blue Planet Surf business thrives during coronavirus pandemic


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Although the majority local businesses are struggling during the pandemic, there are those that have managed to not only survive but to thrive.

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One of them is a company that’s getting people out of the house and on the water.

It is a scene that has been playing out day after day, customer after customer for months.

People driving up to Blue Planet Surf near Ala Moana Center, and then driving off miniutes later with a new stand up paddle board strapped to their car or truck.

“We’re one of the fortunate few businesses that are doing well,” said Robert Stehlik of Blue Planet Surf: “With the whole situation people could still get in the water good exercise. It’s a safe way to do it on a stand up paddleboard. So sales have been really strong actually this year.”

Stehlik considers himself one of the lucky few now.

But like most other business owners he was beyond concerned back in March.

Not only shut down as a result if the pamdemic but just having \relocated weeks before.

“We opened at our new location from our old place on Ward Avenue,” said Stehik. “Then the pandemic hit and basically right after we open we had to shut down again. At first I furloughed my guys and myself too, and we totally closed down”.

But even though his doors were shut down, demand for his boards was ramping up and when he got the green light to re-open, he says it was a constant drive through.

“So we started taking phone orders and web orders,”Stehik said. “People would pick them up outside, and that’s how we’re doing it now too. You can call and order and pick up outside.”

Stehlik says he received a small amount of payroll protection money to keep the business going, and once that first lockdown ended he says every day was like Black friday

“With the gyms closed and not being able to travel on no vacations or form of exercise it became difficult,” said Stehik. “So everybody’s getting into stand up paddling right now”.

Stehlik says the beauty of stand up paddling is that everybody can do it. It’s simply a matter of getting the right board for your size and weight.

“A lot of time beginners just trying to find the cheapest board to get started,” said Stehik. “But it may not be the right one. Buying the first concern is if it’s like buying shoes the first concern is if they fit your feet.”

“I thought she has a paddleboard and I wanted to get out on the water with her since there’s nothing else we can do,” said Jason Untalan, who is buying his first stand up paddle board. “I’m looking forward to getting out there and paddle boarding with my daughter.”

KHON2 asked are you going to have fun being able to teach dad instead of dad always teaching you?

“Yeah I’m going have somebody go out there with instead of being by myself,” Untalan’s daughter Adrianne Salas said.

In addition to helping their customers get the right board, Blue Planet offers weekly tutorials online.

Perfect for beginners, too

“Yeah I love sharing what I’ve learned,” said Stehik. “Stand up paddling is a complete workout that works your whole body. The balancing tool is a good way to work out not just your body but also your mind. It’s healthy not just for your physical body but also for your state of mind. So it’s some thing that helps keep you sane during these crazy times.”

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