Bert’s Surf Shop
According to Travis Weller, manager of Bert’s Surf Shop in Nags Head, “The surf market is just getting blah, and skate is just getting bigger and bigger.” So it’s hardly surprising that Weller says the shop has been shifting its attention more to its skate department — a process that will accelerate this winter.
Bert’s is a eleven-shop chain that stretches from Myrtle Beach in the south to its Kitty Hawk location in the north.
The store carries a wide selection of brands on generic rounders: Quiksilver, Billabong, O’Neill, Volcom, Hurley, Redsand, Local Motion, Op, Counter Culture, and Solitude. There’s also a good selection of private-label T-shirts and sweatshirts near the register. Forty surfboards, from brands such as Madden, Ross, Avon, Ezera, Lindon, Rusty, and Bic, are displayed in the window. Wetsuits from Quiksilver, O’Neill, and Rip Curl are near the back wall.
In a retail environment that’s amazing competitive, Bert’s hopes the increasing reach of the skate market will make up for a lackluster summer. “Business has been kind of slow actually,” says Weller. “From what I’ve heard and from the numbers I saw it’s been slow compared to previous summers.”
Part of this, says Weller, could be the so-so surf the Outer Banks received this summer. He says it also could be due to the surf industry’s reliance on logos on apparel. “If you go through and look at Quiksilver, Billabong, or Hurley, every shirt is the same,” says Weller. “Everything is logo driven. There’s no art incorporated into it. Compare that with the artwork on Enjoi or Habitat shirts, and you can see one of the reasons why skate is so strong right now.
“Quiksilver and Billabong T-shirts didn’t move hardly at all,” he continues. “Their availability is too wide right now. The surf industry needs to make changes. Everything is just getting too old. Whoever the surf-industry god is needs to sit down and tell his followers that they need some innovation — something completely different and off the wall.”[IMAGE 3]
Weller also admits that more time and effort has to go into merchandising and presentation within his store: “We have some new people in the store and we have this winter to make a lot of changes. We want to get a hold of the reps and tell them that we want to blow up skate. We’re thinking about putting ramps in the store and the reps really need to help with stickers and P.O.P.”
Despite its soft T-shirt sales, Quiksilver remains the store’s biggest brand in terms of sale volume, but Weller says Volcom has become the hottest brand. “We don’t get a lot of volume in with Volcom,” he says, “but that’s the product we’ve had the hardest time getting in and the most requests for. But you got to hand it to Quiksilver. They offer pretty much everything you could need and appeal to a broad group of customers.”
Window Brand: n/a
Major Display Brand: Quiksilver, Billabong, Rusty, O’Neill, Volcom, Hurley, H.I.C.
Strongest Category: Skate hardgoods
Weakest Category: Surf T-shirts
Strongest Brand: Rip Curl
Best Rep: n/a. “A lot of reps don’t stop by the Outer Banks,” says Weller. “When they do, they go to WRV or Seventeenth Street and they stop in here if they have time. We get P.O.P. in the mail, but we don’t have many reps coming in.”