We found Mikey Ratt via Instagram. A short while back he posted a shot of an old pair of Birdwells with a small hole in the groin. In the caption he describes how he was out surfing, fell, and landed “junk”-first on a sharp rock. He was grateful to his Birdwells. They protected his very sensitive parts. We got in touch with him and sent him a new pair of shorts. In our back-and-forths we learned that Mikey is 43, born and bred in San Diego, a father, a surfer, a skater, and an obsessive collector—“I own Pack Ratt Records. We have records, a bunch of junk, vintage clothes, a skateboard museum, and my quiver of all-San Diego shaped surfboards.” I wanted to hear more, so I called him on a Saturday morning. He was in his shop, bursting with stoke.
How did you get into collecting?
I started from punk rock records and skateboarding. When I was a kid a neighbor gave me a box of skateboards that started from the ‘60s all the way up into the ‘80s. I hung them up on the wall. My mom was really cool; she was into vintage jewelry. She was like, “You should go digging in the thrift stores with me.” So we’d hit thrift stores, I’d find old skateboards, and it just snowballed from there. I love collecting. I have a huge passion for it. I get myself in the weirdest situations and I meet the raddest people. It’s more than just buying and selling and flipping—I dig all the stories.
What’s a typical day of collecting like?
Today I got up at 7 a.m. and drove to Ocean Beach, and on the way there, in the richest part of town, Point Loma, I see this sketchy garage sale. It’s this all-Asian family, I’m like, This is Point Loma, total surf town, so I’m going to find something. Well, they didn’t have a single surf thing. But sure as shit, I go to the jackets and the first jacket I find is a late-‘70s/early-‘80s Lightning Bolt down-feathered jacket. I’m like, You gotta be kidding me? And the guy’s like, “Dollar, dude.” So that was just on the way to go surf. I wasn’t even trying to go pick. On my days off I’m hitting swaps—I try to hit three swap meets in a day. And I try to hit every garage or estate sale I can find. I really don’t plan it out.
What stuff do you look for?
I collect a lot of old vintage T-shirts—surf, skate, hot rod, biker. That’s something that nobody really values. They just think it’s junk.
What’s your most prized possession?
I have a Steve Lis fish that I found at the Cliffs. It was cut into three pieces. The guy had made it into a table. It’s an amazing board. ‘70s Steve Lis! I have it up on the wall.