#7 – Roy Turner, Offering A Unified Voice

Never underestimate the power of an idea. After 24 years of running Surf City Surf Shop in Wilmington, North Carolina, Roy Turner stepped out of relative obscurity and into the surf industry kleig lights. With personal determination and quite a bit of his own cash, Turner launched the Board Retailers Association in early 2003 after thinking long and hard about the status of boardsport specialty stores in the U.S.

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He envisioned a retail trade association that “would give boardsport retailers a unified and relevant voice when talking to SIMA and related organizations, let manufacturers know our concerns and needs, and allow us to have influential input into where and how our industry grows.

Today the Board Retailers Association—which includes about 80 surf, skate, and snow retailers from around the country—is influential not just for what it’s already done, but also for what it represents and may yet accomplish. BRA has improved communication among retailers, and highlighted common challenges and opportunities facing boardsport retailers. It’s harnessed the collective wisdom of some of the best shops and offered it to newer, less experienced retailers.

“Roy Turner is certainly one of the most influential members of the surf industry, says Quiksilver National Sales Manager Tom Holbrook. “He’s an absolute gentleman who really cares about our industry. Last year he rallied people together and tried to raise the level of everyone’s business. That’s commendable.

But as newspaperman H. L. Mencken once mused, “Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood. More than one manufacturer viewed BRA at first as a complication to their business. “I’ve always viewed BRA and Roy Turner as both being very positive to our industry, says Volcom National Sales Manager Tom Ruiz. “I don’t think BRA’s message was absolutely clear at first. But once you find out more about what BRA wants to accomplish, you can see how it’s going to be good for the whole industry—and Roy is the perfect guy to do it.

Turner hasn’t made a penny on BRA. In fact, he’s tens of thousands of dollars in the hole. But now that he’s sold his shop to a longtime employee, he says he’ll now devote even more time to BRA.

“We’ve gained respect, and stayed within our bounds and goals that have been expressed since day one, he says. “If you look at the accomplishments of the board of directors over the past twelve months, it’s something to be proud of.