Cornwall LivingIssue #73

A surf icon

As legendary Cornish surf and lifestyle store Ann’s Cottage celebrates 40 years, we take a look back at the company’s fascinating history.

Regular readers of Cornwall Living will know that we love a good, old-fashioned Cornish success story. We love hearing about ventures and enterprises that have stayed true to their Cornish identity and values, whilst going on to enjoy great success on a broader scale.

“We are lucky enough to embrace the surf lifestyle on a daily basis, and there aren’t many retailers that can say that!”

One such example that has this down to a T, is Ann’s Cottage, the surf and lifestyle company that has grown from humble beginnings into one of the largest surf and outdoor retailers in Europe. Returning customers come from far and wide across the globe to make the most of the team’s knowledgeable and friendly advice, as well as the company’s extensive range of products.

So, as Ann’s Cottage celebrates an incredible 40 years in the business, we look back on the company’s journey. In today’s world of Internet shopping and an over abundance of choice, this is all the more remarkable. Undoubtedly, the key to success is never losing sight of what made the brand so unique and special in the first place. For a start, many of the staff are avid surfers themselves and all have a love of the outdoors.

So you can be confident that when you ask for advice, you’re actually speaking to like-minded souls, who want you to get the best out of your equipment and experiences, whether you’re a pro or casual weekend enthusiast.

It all started when Ann’s Cottage Owner and Managing Director, Rob Harris moved down to Polzeath with his family and started working at the local filling station during the school holidays. Then, in 1978, when the owner of the filling station retired, Rob and his wife Beverly took over the premises, thus opening the very first Ann’s Cottage store. They began selling and renting out surfboards and wetsuits to the early surfing pioneers, kickstarting a longstanding connection with the surf community. Holidaymakers now had a place to get their beachwear before hitting the sand and waves of Polzeath… and for the locals the Ann’s Cottage name was born.

In the late 1990s, the pumps finally closed down, but by this point Ann’s Cottage was already synonymous with all things related to the beach, surf and sea in Cornwall. 2003 saw the opening of a second store in Wadebridge and, from there, the network of stores has continued to grow.

Spring forward to 2018 and Ann’s Cottage is not only a recognised household name across Cornwall but a major player in Europe’s surf scene, with 11 stores across the south west as well as a popular online store. Yet it remains a family-run business that thrives on being at the heart of the surfing community, with a dedicated passion to all things related to the sea. In a competitive market, Ann’s Cottage stands out by having stores in some of Cornwall’s most stunning locations such as Padstow, Falmouth and Fistral to name a few!

Laura from Ann’s Cottage tells us: “Our team is made up of 150 to 200 members of staff who are all incredibly knowledgeable, enthusiastic and dedicated to always providing outstanding customer service. We are lucky enough to embrace the surf lifestyle on a daily basis, and there aren’t many retailers that can say that!”

Ann’s Cottage is a way of life. It’s the Cornish way of life; the surfer’s way of life… and it’s an iconic brand that continues to grow and grow. Long may that continue.

"We are lucky enough to embrace the surf lifestyle on a daily basis, and there aren’t many retailers that can say that!"