Paddleboard Shop Thrives in Babylon

Karen Marvin opened South Shore Paddleboards in May 2014, about a year after she first tried stand-up paddleboarding.

Marvin knew she had found a passion on which she could fulfill her lifetime dream to own a store. Within 30 days, she and her husband, Bill, transformed a long-vacant 1,500-square-foot storefront in Babylon into her first shop.

“It’s the first all-exclusive paddleboard shop on Long Island,” said Marvin, who lives in the waterfront village. “There’s other shops that carry paddleboards and also carry surfboards, skateboards and snowboards. My store only sells paddleboards.”

South Shore Paddleboards opened at 258 E. Main St. in Babylon in May 2014.

Located at 258 E. Main St., South Shore Paddleboards specializes in boards of many shapes, sizes and specifications for various activities, from fishing to yoga. Marvin stocks 85 boards that are 8 to 14 feet in length, covering all levels of paddleboarding from novice to professional. They consist of carbon fiber, bamboo, EPS foam or epoxy and weigh between 22 and 28 pounds. Paddleboards range in price from $949 to $2,600; paddles from $129 to $399.

Brands include Yolo, Riviera, Coreban, Starboard and Rhizotomy. The most popular boards are the Yolo and Riviera 10’6” boards. “Yolo makes beautiful graphic boards; Riviera is a very classic, simple board with nice, vibrant colors,” Marvin said.

This spring the shop will supply Starboard and Bark prone boards, which are narrower to allow people to lie on their stomachs and paddle with their hands. “I try to have two or three of every style of board so that my customers will always have the best selections,” Marvin said.

South Shore Paddleboards stocks 85 paddleboards for all levels of the sport, from novice to professional

Paddleboarding is most popular in Hawaii, California and Florida. The sport is new but growing in the northeast and on Long Island. “About half of my customers that buy paddleboards have never even been on a paddleboard, but they know the great benefits of it and are excited to own one,” she noted.

Wetsuits typically come in two pieces, because paddleboarders stay dry standing on their boards, unlike surfers who get submerged in the ocean. South Shore Paddleboards supplies Supreme wetsuit pants ($113.99) and zippered jackets ($142.99), which can be shed if a boarder gets too warm.

The shop also supplied many accessories. These include a SpeedCoach GPS monitoring unit that attaches to a board and measures strokes per second, speed and distance, at a costs of $399 or $479 with a heart rate monitor; Dry Case waterproof cases for mobile phones ($39) and tablets ($59); Peppers polarized floatable sunglasses ($39 to $59); paddleboard bags ($225); Local Motion, Kavu, and Prana board shorts ($49 to $69), as well as sundresses, baseball caps, and jewelry.

Baseball caps are among the variety of apparel sold at South Shore Paddleboards

The storefront sports a large, decked-out window, and when patrons step inside they find inviting blue walls and whitewashed pine floorboards, soothing candle aromas and reggae tunes, and paddleboard videos displayed on a 52-inch flatscreen.

Marvin worked for Warner Bros. Studio stores as a visual director for six years and a house painter and decorator for 15 years before opening her shop last year. She grew up living on the water on Long Island and lives in a waterfront home and enjoys the outdoors, especially boating. But there is nothing like that free-spirited feeling she gets from riding a paddleboard.


Her mission is to get more people to have the same experiences. Toward that end, she offers paddleboard lessons for $65 per hour, as well as one free lesson for anyone who buys a board at her shop. The store also has hourly, weekly and weekend rentals.

“Paddleboarding is beautiful because it connects you with nature,” she said. “And you’re able to do something on your own that’s good for your body and that’s healthy and fun.”

joseph kellard

Joseph Kellard is a journalist and photographer. See his work at