Gulf Regional Report

By Rene Pacheco

Drew Danner, “manager of the day” at Surf Specialties in Galveston, Texas, points out the addition of a women’s department as their biggest change in the shop. He says they’ve developed the department in the last three years to accommodate the increasing demand for a women’s market. Expanding the inventory has had a positive correlation with sales.

Danner also says there has been a substantial increase in longboard sales due to their increased popularity. “Young guys are wising up,” he says, citing that after watching the old guys catch all the waves, the younger crowds are also switching to bigger boards. “They are more practical for our area,” he adds, referring to local small waves.

Surf Specialties is promoting a lot of fish designs as well. Surfboard styles have become diverse for the shop and are fueling business.

At Shannon’s Surf and Sport, in Houston, Texas, Manager Erik Erwin acknowledges the growth trends in the women’s market and describes it as a main focus for his shop. “We’re jumping on the bandwagon,” says Erwin. Dedication to the women’s market has resulted in a bigger presentation at the shop, much of which includes accessories.

“The sandal business is on fire,” Erwin says. He notes there has been a major shift from convertible (sport sandals) to three-point sandals because they’re less expensive. The shop has had success with the ever-popular Reef.

Erwin also notes an increase in boardshorts: “Boardshorts have become mainstream. Guys who know nothing about surfing are coming in, wanting trunks.” According to Erwin, the large numbers of novice surfers coming in the store has helped increase business.

The biggest change for MD Surf and Skate in Corpus Christi, Texas has been in its new promotional approach. Owner Mark Dulaney says the shop is premiering surf videos at night. “They’re easy to do,” says Dulaney. When a new surf video comes out, Dulaney borrows a big-screen television and sound system from a local church. They close the store and move the front half of the inventory to the back to prevent theft, and then bring the equipment in. Dulaney added that Mountain Dew and a local radio station have even helped with promotions.

The average attendance has been about 100 to 150 people, says Dulaney, and he’s seen an increase in sales because of the showings. MD Surf is taking a grassroots approach in hopes of separating themselves from the mall stores. So far it has worked: “Business has been good,” says Dulaney.

Inner Light Board Sports Manager Mike Bazerque in Pensacola, Florida, claims that the shop gets about 90 percent of its business from locals who are mostly younger kids. He feels that lines such as Volcom and Counter Culture are doing well because of their appeal to these younger generations.

In the realm of surfboard sales Bazerque credits his success with providing customers a diverse board selection, in both shape and design. However, he does note that fish styles and other boards geared toward smaller waves have gained the most popularity over the last few years.