October 25, 2018

Florida Weekly Correspondent

Based on his effortless absorption into the community it would be easy to believe that Matthew Atkinson — Matty to his friends — has been living in Key West for a good part of his life. He managed to land a highly sought-after job at one of the off-Duval bars and in a twist of serendipitous events he just opened his very own business in the heart of Bahama Village on Petronia Street. It’s a big accomplishment for someone who has been here for a little over a year.

But things didn’t start out that easy for our newly adopted Matty.

A native of Connecticut, Matty was an established resident of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands when Hurricane Irma hit, leaving him unemployed and homeless. His girlfriend has roots in the Florida Keys so they came to Key West while waiting for their island to be rebuilt.

“Irma wiped us out,” Matty says. “They are getting better now, but they still need help. The bar I worked at is still closed. I even had a location in mind for my shop there, but obviously the storm changed that as well …

“I came and checked this place out (on Petronia Street) and it was perfect. It was meant to be. He discovered a knack for woodworking while apprenticing with a boat builder and saw it as the perfect complement for his love of surfing. Merging his love of woodworking and surfing, he decided to make custom surfboards. Like an idea that just comes naturally, Lost Boy Creations was born. When the small, rustic space opened up right next to Firefly Southern Kitchen, four of Matty’s friends tagged him the moment it was announced on social media

“We always referred to St. John as neverland. It was the place you went when you weren’t ready to grow up,” he says. “We were the ‘lost boys,’ living first and working second. If there were waves, we surfed, wind we sailed. If it was calm we fished, if it was clear we dove. It turned into a way of life making a living out of what we enjoyed doing as opposed to finding a job to afford our passion.”

Lost Boy Creations specializes in custom handmade water novelties such as paddleboards, surfboards and spearguns as well as other functional works of art that are “different and unique,” along with baseball caps and stickers. One of Matty’s current projects is repurposing the door from the late craft beer joint the Porch into new tap handles for the recently opened General Horseplay.

You can see what Matty is working on by visiting him any day between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Inspired by the many open workshops that Matty once witnessed in Bermuda, he decided to make his own version. Lost Boy Creations is a retail shop with endless inventory and also an artist space complete with sawdust, tools and a lot of love. “It’s a So-Cal surf shop meets woodworking shop,” he explains. “I always have a fridge full of beer and a movie on TV, usually ‘Point Break’ or ‘Jaws.’

“It’s an intimate experience. I don’t want to be behind closed doors.”

He hosted a grand opening party during the recent Goombay Festival with adult beverages and live music. It was a monumental moment for someone who this time last year had lost almost everything. During the two-day party he revealed plans to raffle off a one-of-a-kind surfboard and will donate all profits to help those affected by Hurricane Michael. Stop by Petronia Street and say hello to Matty.