It has been over two decades since two young 20-somethings decided it was time to bring “boards” to Oakdale. In late summer of 1996, Jeff Sawyer and Jason Turnage opened the doors of Oakies Board Shop, specializing in skate and snow boards.
“I started helping right after high school,” Cryndee Dermond said.
Dermond managed the shop and later bought it from “the boys,” as she affectionately calls Sawyer and Turnage, purchasing the store in 1999.
The early days of the board shop were in a different location than its current 1275 E. F St. location, as well as the inventory, changed from then to what greets customers today. Oakies has been in its current location for 20 years and Dermond could not be more pleased.
“It was very ‘boy.’ There was minimal clothing,” Dermond said, chuckling as she recalled the early days and a shop full of boards, skate gear, snow gear, shoes and swimwear.
An outdoor enthusiast who found herself in a surrounding she loved with people she loved, Dermond shared the shop was a big risk 20 years ago. She noted that it was an industry which was not yet popular in the rural areas of California. However, the energy with the two partners was unstoppable.
Dermond described Turnage as the heart, the image of the business and Sawyer as the visionary, the business-minded one.
“Everyone looked at us like you guys are insane. We were just a bunch of kids,” the Oakdale High Class of ’93 alum stated.
In 1999 as Sawyer and Turnage looked to other business ventures, Dermond stepped in and became the sole proprietor of the business.
“We all loved each other to the end and we still do,” she stated of the relationship with the founders.
“I still love it 20 years later,” she added. “I love what I do. The industry has changed. You see everyone wearing it (the brands) now.”
Dermond describes herself as more driven by her connection to the customer and providing them with personal service, than anything else. So much so, that she often has her clients in mind when she is buying product for the store.
Now a stark contrast to where it began, Oakies offers a selection of men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, as well as a large selection of sunglasses and accessories. The skate department remains the same as when the shop was originated. Snow gear has been reduced, due to competition. Rentals are offered for both snowboards and wake boards.
As brands in the business have come and go, Dermond stays steady and committed to the classics. Brands like O’Neill, Hurley, Fox, Independent and Creature can always be found at Oakies Board Shop. Then there’s the ever popular Oakies brand, which has begun to expand from the popular ball cap, hoodie and T-shirt. Oakies now offers a variety of other classic styles and some custom pieces as well, designed by Dermond.
“If I’m not creative I get depressed,” the once-aspiring clothing designer turned shop owner shared. “I have to be creative all the time. This allows me to be creative.”
As for the business two decades later, Dermond acknowledges she not just grew up in the business, but in Oakies. It was a span of time which gave way for her passion and her commitment to hard work.
“I didn’t know what I was doing. I just knew I wanted to make something work,” she said. “It was not easy, but I was going to make it work. It was scary, but I was determined.”
But it wasn’t always easy and Dermond credits community loyalty for the continued success of the business.
“I feel I’m very fortunate to have the clientele I have,” she said. “I adore my clientele. I’ve met so many people from this wonderful community. We are so lucky – we really are.”