Duck Village Outfitter
Named for the sheer numbers of waterfowl that once flocked here during migratory seasons, Duck has experienced exponential growth over the past decade. And although the tiny Duck Village Outfitters surf shop has also steadily grown during those years, it really hit its stride this year. “Our summer was great,” says General Manager Ray George. “Sales were up twenty percent on average. We increased our average ticket price this year, because we landed some of the bigger-name surf accounts: Volcom, O’Neill, Rip Curl, the better watches, and the more expensive sunglasses.”
In fact, George says sales are already up 21 percent this year: “Last year our total gross was 350,000 dollars. This year we’re already at 425,000 and we’re going to sell a lot of equipment between now and the end of the year.”
That’s not bad for a shop the size of Duck Village Outfitters. “The shop is 500 square feet, but we use another 500 on the back deck and front,” says George. “Every morning it’s an hour’s worth of work to roll it out. But what are you going to do? It’s a big part of our atmosphere.”
George says that, in particular, getting Volcom into the store helped his business: “I’ve been dying to bring Volcom in and I finally convinced them that it would be in their best interest to open us and that I was committed to spend money with them — which I did. I’ve probably ordered between ten- to twelve-thousand dollars wholesale from them up to this point.
“Volcom is by far the biggest volume brand and our most important account,” continues George. “If you went through our racks right now, however, you’d see very little Volcom. When it comes in, it goes. It’s something that everyone wants. I’ve even seen older buyers who aren’t surfers come in and say ‘Wow, that’s nice.’ I’ve put together a budget for Volcom and every month I’m increasing that number. It’s a similar story with Smith sunglasses.”
George says that over the course of a year, 60 percent of his business is with tourists. It doesn’t hurt that he’s yards away from Burger King, one of the few fast-food joints in town. “We’re also different than many surf shops on the Banks because we rent surfboards and wetsuits. The rental business saves us. If you rent a longboard for 55 bucks a week, by the end of the summer you’re zero into it — you’ve made money. Then you can sell it for 100 bucks. Surf lessons are another savior, because you instantly have a customer who thinks of you as their shop. They come in and ask, ‘What type of suit would you get me, Ray?’ I’m the man now all because of that lesson.”
But in such a seasonal market, George says it is critical that manufacturers be more dialed with their shipping dates: “There’s a humongous difference between August 25 and September 25. That 30-day variance can kill me. Backpacks were a great example. I had backpacks from companies that I wanted by the fifteenth, but I didn’t get them until after school had started. I will sell them, but nailing down shipping date to a seven-day window would make a huge impact on the health of my store.”
Window Brand: Electric
Major Display Brand: n/a
Strongest Category: Lycra. “Kids don’t want to put on sunscreen, so they buy a piece of Lycra for 22 bucks,” says George.
Weakest Category: Capri Pants
Strongest Brand: Volcom
Best Reps: Paul Kane (MCD/Gotcha/Smith), Sean Ollice (Volcom, Electric, Xcel)