1894 was a pretty lousy year for Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz. A fire — locally called “The Great Fire” tore through four blocks of downtown and left the founding fathers looking for a way to maintain Santa Cruz as a cultural hub in the wake of the disaster. Now, 107 years later, the street has seen another change.
This time, it wasn’t as dramatic as a fire. In fact, it’s unlikely the average shopper noticed. But when O’Neill opened a new store five months ago literally yards from Pacific Wave — just across the street in fact — you might have expected the type of sparks that once brought down the neighborhood.
But the heat of that move is beginning to cool, and business at the old dun-colored Santa Cruz County National Bank building seems to be a strong as ever.
The chief way Pacific Wave and the new O’Neill store are coexisting is through cooperation. You can’t find Hurley and Volcom at this particular O’Neill store — but those brands are prominently displayed at Pacific Wave, with windows full of Volcom and Hurley logos and product. While there may be other differences, this product divide seems the most obvious way the shops separate themselves — and likely has the biggest effect on business.
Pacific Wave carries wetsuits from Billabong, Hurley, Rip Curl, and (somewhat surprisingly) O’Neill. The shoe department is substantial with DVS, Osiris, Oakley, DC, Reef, Vans, Globe, and Simple all represented (the DVS P.O.P. shelves providing that brand with the most obvious presence.)
Billabong, Hurley, Volcom, Sessions, and Fresh Jive all a displayed prominently, but according to Manager Nicole Churchill it’s the local, home-grown brand Santa Cruz that leads the way as the hottest brand at Pacific Wave. The shop’s house brand does well as well — with private-label sweats and T’s stocked deep and high near the Juniors’ department.
So is there room in this corner of Santa Cruz for two prominent surf shops? Judging on the foot traffic in both stores the answer so far appears to be yes.
**** Just The Facts Ma’am ****
Window Brands: Volcom, Hurley, Santa Cruz
Major Display Brands: Billabong, Volcom, Hurley, Sessions, Fresh Jive, Santa Cruz, Roxy, Rusty Girls
Strongest Category: Pacific Wave apparel and unisex Santa Cruz apparel
Bests Rep(s): Mark Simpson from Hurley
Hottest Brand(s): Santa Cruz, Volcom, Hurley, Pacific Wave
On A Scale Of 1 to 10, Rate:
Health of the surf sales: 8
Health of girls sales: 8
Health of men’s apparel sales: 8
Health of wetsuit sales: 7
Health of footwear sales: 10
Health of surfboard sales: 7