504 Loan Helps Family Surfing Business Build on a Legacy
Innerlight Surf & Skate is known as “The Surfer’s Surf Shop” along the North Florida and Alabama Gulf Coast. Established in 1969, Innerlight operates four successful stores in the region. The company’s newest location at the historic Pensacola Beach Marina is its most ambitious expansion yet.
Nearly a year after the death of Yancy Spencer III, Innerlight’s founder and Gulf Coast surfing legend, Spencer’s widow, Lydia Spencer, and his brother, J.B. Schluter, recently purchased the marina for $2.8 million with the help of the 504 loan program.
Innerlight’s business partners – which include eight family members – are renovating the weathered property and opening a fifth Innerlight retail store in the marina’s three-story building to continue the legacy started by Spencer. Innerlight will be branching out into the marina business as well.
The purchase includes 30 boat slips and a fuel dock. The marina and a fishing charter business will be run out of an 800 square-foot facility on the bottom level, which will also include a boat captains’ retail store. The beach and surf shop will occupy 4,500 square feet on the second level, and the company is in talks with surf-themed restaurants to lease the 5,000 square-foot restaurant on the top floor.
When tourism fell off in 2010 following the BP oil spill disaster, the struggling owners of the Pensacola Beach Marina went out of business. For almost a year, boat captains hung on as the marina went through foreclosure.
When Schluter noticed the property was available, he contacted a realtor to lease the middle floor. “The realtor said, ‘Hey, because of who you guys are, you should look at buying the property,” he said.
Schluter feared financing for the deal would be tough to secure given the current economic and tightened lending climates. But with Innerlight’s successful and long running track record, he was able to work with Bank of America and Florida First Capital to secure a 504 loan for the project.
“By offering a low down payment financing option with a long-term fixed interest rate, a well respected and locally owned family business was able to purchase a property that may not have been available through conventional financing means,” said James Hosman, Florida First Capital vice president and loan officer for the Northwest and Florida Panhandle.
Being able to dedicate the new location to the memory of Yancy Spencer III is a dream fulfilled by Innerlight and the revitalization of a historic property brings back a once great icon on Pensacola beach. From the charter captains that operate from the marina to the surf diehards and tourists that will frequent the beach shop, everyone agrees that surf’s up once again at Pensacola Beach!
About Florida First Capital
Florida First Capital Finance Corporation (FFCFC) is Florida’s original statewide certified development company (CDC). The primary mission of FFCFC, a nonprofit organization, is economic development and job creation. Florida First Capital carries out its work through the administration of various government and private small business capital access programs. Most significant of these is the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 504 Loan Program. Under the SBA 504 Loan Program, FFCFC partners with banks, credit unions and other private-sector commercial lenders to provide growing and expanding small businesses with access to affordable and stable long-term financing for the purchase of owner-occupied commercial real estate and/or heavy duty machinery and equipment, all at low down payments and below-market fixed interest rates.