Slick it ain’t. ET Surfboards has the rough-around-the-edges vibe similar to another leading surf shop: Frog House in Newport Beach. Floorspace is at a premium and navigating the store can be a chore. But ask around. ET Surfboards has the type of loyal clientele that’s rare in this over retailed world.
“The shop was founded in 1971 and customer service and personality has always been our foundation,” says Manager Daniel DeCastillo. “Eddie Talbot, the owner set the standard for being a nice guy and a great surf-shop owner. We also do more hardgoods than many of the other shops. It’s almost as if our softgoods tied around all the hardgoods.” [IMAGE 1]
ET carries a big collection of boards given the size of the store. Up on the mezzanine are rows of boards from Town & Country, Pesce, JC, Channel Islands, and Lost. There’s also a huge selection of Rip Curl, Body Glove, and Billabong wetsuits.
Hardgoods are definitely important to ET. But even with the shop’s wide selection and loyal following, sales are down in the wake of September 11. “Since that tragedy happened and everything came to a halt, people have been much more hesitant to go out and spend money,” says DeCastillo. “I know I’m not going out and spending a bunch of money. I’m saving it, so there’s your answer I think.”
Nothing is selling through better than expected. “All the categories are pretty soft,” says DeCastillo, “but snow has been particularly slow for us — especially the big ticket items.” He says Hurley sales have picked up “because the kids are telling their parents to come and shop for them,” and that Volcom pretty much sells itself.[IMAGE 2]
Skate product has also been holding its own. “It seems like skate’s the hottest thing right now,” he says. “Shoes are also doing pretty good.” ET Surfboards carries more than 80 styles of shoes.
DeCastillo has been with the shop for fourteen years. “It’s the same old ET,” he laughs. “It’s more organized, but this place is still controlled chaos.”[IMAGE 3]
But after 27 years in business, certainly ET has figured out some of the secrets of retailing, right? “You want me to give my secrets out to everyone else?” laughs DeCastillo. “Sure. Buy a heck a lot of stock, close your doors earlier to save electricity and payroll, and have all your employees park in your parking lot. It’s just that simple.”
Window Brand: Matix
Major Display Brands: Rusty, Fox, Volcom, Quiksilver, Billabong, Hurley, Stüssy.
Best Selling Items: N/A
Weakest Category: Snowboards
Strongest Brand: Volcom
Best Reps: Ron Gould (Billabong), Dale Rhodes (Hurley), and Darren “Dagwood” Madrigal (Volcom)