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Lake Effect is the only surf shop in Milwaukee.

City's only surf shop swells with first-year success

Every Milwaukeean has a Lake Michigan story and for the next seven days OnMilwaukee will share as many as possible during "MKE Lake Week," sponsored by the Harbor District. Love our lake? You're in the right place.

Nine years ago, Jake Bresette started surfing Lake Michigan, but because he lived in Madison, he had to drive more than an hour to Sheboygan, Racine and Milwaukee for the big waves.

"That got old," says Bresette. "As much as I love surfing, I got tired of making the drive."

One of Bresette's favorite places to surf is Atwater Beach, so he and his wife, Alaina – who is also a surfer – decided to move and open a business in Shorewood.

Lake Effect Surf Shop opened in July 2016 at 1926 E. Capitol Dr. in the former Cafe Nation, Smoothie Nation space.

"There's a surf shop in Sheboygan and one in Michigan, but we always wondered why there wasn't one in Milwaukee," says Bresette. "And so my wife and I took the plunge."

The shop sells – and rents – surfboards, paddle boards and wet suits. It also offers skateboard stuff and locally-themed T-shirts and clothing, including "Wiloha" gear, a term which Bresette invented that combines "Wisconsin" with the Hawaiian greeting "aloha."

When Bresette started surfing the lake, there were only one or two others in the water with him. Recently, the numbers have increased greatly.

"Now there might be eight, 10, 15 people surfing at the same time," he says.

Although the best time to surf Lake Michigan is in the fall – followed by spring and then winter – Bresette says sales remained solid all year.

"It's been very good first year," says Bresette, "It's great to see so much growth and interest in surfing. Especially in the winter."

Lake Effect Surf Shop will be open Tuesday-Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

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