In February 2012, nearly one year after the death of Yancy Spencer III, Innerlight’s founder and Gulf Coast surfing legend, Spencer’s widow, Lydia Spencer, and his brother, J.B. Schluter, purchased the Pensacola Beach Marina for $2.8 million.
With the help of eight family members — children, siblings and their spouses — the business partners are:
» Opening a fifth Innerlight retail store on the second floor of the marina’s three-story building on March 15 and, initially, hiring 10 employees. Gulf Breeze-based Cobia Building Contractors is renovating the former beach grocery store.
» In talks with surf-themed restaurants locally and in Destin to lease the 5,000-square-foot family-friendly restaurant on the top floor. The goal is to have a restaurant opened by summer and decorate it with Yancy’s extensive collection of surfing memorabilia.
» Taking over operation of the 16-boat charter business and private boat marina.
» Creating a surfboard and paddleboard club and boat captains’ retail store.
» Planning to rent paddleboards and let paddlers launch from a shallow slip on the north end of the marina.
» Investing $250,000 and hiring Cobia Building to remodel the interior of the building. The exterior of the building is being spruced up to give it a “wow” factor to attract vacationers and beachgoers and reflect everything that will be offered at the marina, once the Santa Rosa Island Authority OKs the plans.
» Planning to promote a Pensacola version of Destin’s Crab Island in Little Sabine Bay. Crab Island inside Destin Pass attracts a large number of boaters and paddleboard enthusiasts on weekends, similar to how boaters congregate in Little Sabine during the Blue Angels Air Show.
“We’re not just pushing the surf shop, but also the charters, sailboats and the whole package of what this building has to offer and make it a destination,” said Schluter, 54, vice president of the $10 million family-run corporation.
“Yancy and I came to the realization that we needed to be on Pensacola Beach,” he said. “And if we were going to be on the beach, we wanted to be where everybody who goes to the beach pretty much has to go by our shop.”
The marina is on the main drag to the beach on Little Sabine Bay. It’s a huge improvement over Yancy’s first 500-square-foot surf shop, which opened in 1982.