Freehand Hostel

Mark Gamez

Meet our friend, Mark Gamez: Miami’s king of all things surf and skate, the man behind F1rst Surf Shop and a true Miami native. Born. And. Bred. In short, he’s one local you need to get to know. We recently caught up with him over drinks to chat about his SoBe shop, guilty pleasures and how he spends his free time in the 305. Read on to learn more:

Freehand Miami: What are the best and worst things about owning your own store?

Mark Gamez: The worst part is being a social butterfly. I grew up in Miami and so did my partner Chris, which translates to every friend and acquaintance I might have said hi to in the last 20-30 years coming in looking for a discount or handout. It’s part of the deal I guess, but then again I can definitely think of worse problems to have. Also, everyone having the misconception that we live “the life” and have a mellow and laid-back lifestyle with zero stress. Yes, we get to do as we choose, which is probably the biggest perk of owning your own business, but on the other hand, owning a small business is owning a small business. It’s a 24/7/365 gig. You can’t get caught sleeping behind the wheel.

Best part about owning a surf shop is…owning your own surf shop. I mean, come on, isn’t that everyone’s dream? I get to be my own boss. I have an arsenal of surfboards and skateboards at my disposal, and I get to go to work in a pair of boardshorts and a tee shirt. You can’t be mad at that!

Favorite guilty pleasure song…

Latin Freestyle music. I grew up in Kendall and I went to Southwest Miami High School in the late eighties and early nineties, so Stevie B, Johnny O, Noel, Company B, TKA, you name it, I got it. The odds of me having a DJ Laz Freestyle Mega Mix from Power 96 on my iPhone are pretty high and I will sing along to Stevie B like it’s nobody’s business.

What’s your favorite season in South Beach?

Early winter/early spring,  for obvious reasons. The weather is excellent for skating and surfing. Surf-wise, it’s the best because we usually get a few perfectly groomed and cold north swells during this period of time. The cold weather keeps the crowds at bay for a few hours in the early AM hours. By afternoon, there are about 200 people out within a stretch of three blocks.

Where do you eat, drink and shop in Miami?

Besides my own shop (F1RST), MIA Skate Shop for shoes. For food, the wife and I frequent Pubbelly Sushi, Red, The Steakhouse, Bond St (RIP) and La Locanda. For drinks, I live 50 feet away from The Broken Shaker, so it doesn’t take a lot to get me over here. If I’m down by the shop (South of 5th Street) it’s always Radio Bar and Cafe Mistral.

If you could hang out with anyone at The Broken Shaker, who would it be?

Elad! Elad and I have the raddest conversations; the guy is priceless, unfiltered and unapologetic, which is hard to find these days. Otherwise,  it’s usually with my wife, Maile, or my business wife, Chris. That’s the rad thing about The Shaker: it’s outdoors, it’s fresh air and spacious. It’s not the big box nightlife everyone has come to expect to see in South Beach these days. I’ve done more than my fair share of nightlife here in South Beach. I can’t pack myself into a smoky nightclub or bar for too long these days, so The Shaker is a solid safety spot.

Mark Gamez’s Guide to Miami’s South Beach: