No. 17

Finding the Flow: How This Surf Shop Carved out More Revenue Sources

Finding the Flow: How This Surf Shop Carved out More Revenue Sources
Even with no previous business know-how, this community surf shop owner is simplifying processes, saving time, leveraging Square Banking tools to do business smarter — and managing cash flow with more ease.
Jun 20, 2024 — 6 min read
Finding the Flow: How This Surf Shop Carved out More Revenue Sources

About this series



Discover the more surprising sides of your business finances. From unique seller spotlights (did anybody say taxidermy?) on tackling cash flow to monthly advice from a Financial Therapist and CPA — check out these stories and more from our banking newsletter.
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This article is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal, financial, or tax advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.

Station RBNY isn’t your average surf and skate shop—it’s a Rockaway institution built on love for the waves and the community. The community surf shop provides everything you need for a fun day at the beach, from sales to rentals to lessons. The founder, Nigel Louis, brings his Barbadian surf roots to Rockaway Beach, infusing his experience into every aspect of the business.

With a combined 25+ years of surf and skate experience, Louis and his team at Station RBNY aren’t just selling gear; they’re building connections. They listen to the community, adapt to its needs, and keep the good vibes alive.

Humble beginnings

Louis started the community surf shop with little capital. With no prior business experience, he learned on the job. “So I didn’t come from money. And I didn’t start [Station RBNY] with tons of dough. I think I had maybe $15 to $20,000 saved at the time. But the transition was tough because what I realize now — and I say it to everyone — is that people don’t understand the commitment it takes to be a business owner,” said Louis.

While he had his moments of doubt, glowing reviews from satisfied customers have been a huge source of motivation and helped to reaffirm the reasons he started the business in the first place.

Those moments give him a sense of purpose and help him remember that there is more to get done. “To me, I look at it like it’s the universe saying like, you know, now is not the time to give up yet — you have more to accomplish,” said Louis. Despite his personal challenges, he was determined to continue running Station RBNY.

Searching for a solution that simplifies the financial side of things

For Louis, the most challenging part of owning a business was managing cash flow. “I didn’t really have a proper system, and cash flow was just through the bank, but a lot of that stuff was a little bit more reactionary. I think if I did it [again], I would do it a little bit differently because the cash flow thing is kind of one of the biggest downfalls of business.” said Louis.

“Square has been absolutely amazing. It’s just what I needed. I think having everything in one place is really good. [I like] how easy and, almost, like dumb-dumb it is. And Square, having analytics at the drop of a dime, being able to really get into the minutia of your business,” said Louis.

Finding a solution that addressed these pain points and made it easier for him to manage his business was a priority for Louis. And Square delivered.

Leveraging financing that meets specific business needs

Before taking on Square Loans,1 he had tried other loan options that weren’t right for his business, incurred excessive interest, and ultimately affected his credit score. “I did one or two predatory loans and realized just how sketchy that is and having to pay back way more than you need. But when you’re trying to keep your dream alive, you do what you have to do,” said Louis.

The loan repayment structure from Square was also helpful, as it made it easier to make payments on time in a frictionless way, as Square Loans offers automatic daily loan repayment. “I was … in a super [tight] capital situation, and then being able to be offered the loan and done in a way that it’s like taken out per transaction or per, like end-of-day batches, was such a big help. If I didn’t have [the loan from Square] to count on, I’m pretty positive that I wouldn’t be here,” said Louis.

Read the full interview with Station RBNY here.

Editor’s note Editor’s note: The following columns were first featured in the Square Banking newsletter. Aja Evans and Keila Hill-Trawick are not employees or consultants of Square and the views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and are not endorsed by Square.

Finance in Focus: Let your “why” be your guide.


Aja Evans is a licensed mental health counselor who specializes in financial therapy. She owns and operates a private practice in New York City.

Evans responds to a real-life advice request from a Square business owner.

Dear Aja, 

A bright spot for me is seeing that I’ve accomplished exactly what I set out to do. I wanted to create a community where people feel part of something bigger than themselves; they feel welcome. They can walk into the store no matter their [surfing] ability level and not feel judged. I immigrated here from Barbados — I never thought I’d create a business and it’d have an effect on people’s lives. I’m proud of that, no matter how difficult it was.

Nigel, Station RBNY, Far Rockaway, New York

First, as a wannabe surfer, your store sounds like something I need in my life! It’s amazing you were able to accomplish your goals and see your mission come to fruition — not only in how you experience your business but also in how your customers experience it, too. Second, it sounds like you are already getting clear on your “why,” which is something I suggest to my clients frequently.

The next time you’re faced with a challenging business decision, ask yourself, ‘Does this serve my ultimate goal?’ ”

Aja Evans licensed mental health counselor specializing in financial therapy

Your foundational values can provide the grounding framework for business and financial decisions and can help guide you whenever you’re figuring out the next right steps. The next time you’re faced with a challenging business decision, ask yourself, “Does this serve my ultimate goal of X?” This practice can give you clarity in how to spend and save your money, what goals to go after next, or to even deprioritize tasks that take up your time but aren’t contributing to your vision.

Running a business is complex, and the emotional toll is just as impactful as the physical and financial responsibilities. So be sure to relish in the effort that went into building your dream. Taking time to be proud of yourself builds confidence to manage uncertainty or to keep working toward another goal in the future. Resilience and commitment are something to pat yourself on the back for. And if you can’t do that, gift yourself some time to catch a wave.

Good With Numbers: “We faced a $10M hold on our bank account for a sales tax mistake.” 


Keila Hill-Trawick is founder and CEO of Little Fish Accounting, a boutique CPA firm dedicated to serving micro businesses through accounting and tax support. 

CPA Keila responds to real-life “Oh sh*t” tax moments submitted by Square business owners.

Dear Keila, 

We had a $10 million hold placed on our bank account for a sales tax mistake. The DOR (Department of Revenue) does not mess around! We got it resolved the next day by calling, crying, and asking forgiveness. We didn’t need a payment plan because we’d saved the quarter’s worth of tax. Luckily, systems have moved online and are much easier to navigate now. 

Dex, ceramic studio owner, Decatur, Georgia

What an experience! To avoid this in the future, there are a couple of steps you can take. 

First, make sure notifications are turned on for your state tax system so you’re notified immediately if there’s an issue. Second, make sales tax payments on a regular basis throughout the year, and make all payments by the deadline to avoid additional fees and penalties.

One thing we recommend to clients is to open a separate account just for tax savings. Not only does it help to keep an eye on how much is available when filing, but it also helps to avoid holds on operating funds if anything goes wrong. 

For sales tax specifically, it’s easy to know how much to set aside since it’s the exact amount collected. Remember, your business is a pass-through — you collect the sales tax in order to remit it to the appropriate agency on a monthly or quarterly basis. Having those collected funds diverted to a separate account helps to manage those funds outside of what is actually available to run your company. By consistently tracking and maintaining your sales tax payments, you’ll always be up to date and can avoid the consequences of late filings.

Did you know?

 Create a separate Square Savings folder for taxes and automatically contribute a percentage of every Square sale.


1All loans are issued by Square Financial Services, Inc., a Utah-Chartered Industrial Bank. Member FDIC. Actual fee depends upon payment card processing history, loan amount, and other eligibility factors. A minimum payment is required and you must repay your loan as specified in the loan terms. Loan eligibility is not guaranteed. All loans are subject to credit approval.


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