Tide Pools Store
A new beach-themed business has opened in Montara where a surplus store had operated for decades. Photo courtesy Cass Cleave

At a soft opening on Sept. 4, customers got their first look at Tidepool, a new beach-themed store with an emphasis on locally made and plastic-free goods.

Tidepool is located in what was previously the Montara Army Navy building, a business that operated along Highway 1 for nearly three decades.

Enter through the reclaimed redwood doors and the inside of Tipepool is awash in natural light. The single-room store has shelves and tables holding an array of items: beach towels, succulents, hand-carved wood-framed photos, poppy seeds and soaps, just to name a few. But the more prominent items available are the hand-dyed clothing and jewelry. Sara Stockalper, Tidepool’s founder and owner, dyes a mix of T-shirts, hats and overalls herself. Like the waves crashing not far from the store, each piece is one-of-a-kind.

Stockalper founded a similar beach-style boutique store in San Francisco several years ago. After relocating to Montara two years ago, she wanted to apply a similar approach to creating a vibrant store that would serve both local residents and tourists.

“When I moved here, I always had that vision of creating something here, bringing some life to the town of Montara,” Stockalper said. “Because it’s the greatest place to live, I just love it here so much.”

Much of Stockalper’s inspiration for her fiber arts — her prints, dyes and jewelry — come from local beaches. A key pillar of Tidepool is its emphasis on plastic-free and locally sourced products. All the proceeds from the sale of Sea Hugger clothing go back to the nonprofit.

“I try to not even carry items that aren’t sustainable,” she said. “All of my shirts, I try to have organic cotton. Other things that are made in the U.S., locally sourced in California, or as close by as we can. Everything is stocked with environmentalism and what’s good for the community in mind.”

With all the current challenges small businesses face during the coronavirus pandemic, setting up a new operation is no small feat. Tidepool’s opening was delayed for several months. Retail isn’t always a sure thing even in the best of times, Stockalper said. But she ironed out the details and has devoted herself to making it work.

“After thinking it through, I thought our community still needed something like that, something joyful, fun, different and exciting,” she said. “I was personally willing to take that risk, to foresee this project I’d had in mind for a couple years and take a chance and see if it works.”

Tidepool’s hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Learn more at tidepoolca.com.

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