Zuma Jay’s is a surf shop in the traditional sense: surfboards, wetsuits, accessories, and some private-label clothing — that’s about it. That’s how Owner Jefferson Wagner wants it: “It’s simpler that way.”
As one of the area’s original surf shops, Zuma Jay’s has seen the highs and lows of the industry and the economy — and has always remained on top. “After 25 years here,” says Wagner, “I’ve weathered all these ups and downs. There’re slow years and good years. It all averages out.”[IMAGE 1]
Overall, 2001 has been a slower year than usual, but not dead by any means. Wetsuits are Zuma Jay’s bread-and-butter. The shop carries a wide range of suits for any surfer, whether its the five-year-old super grom or a crusty Malibu Point longboarder. O’Neill dominates the rubber section that runs along the West wall of the 1,350-square-foot shop, but Body Glove also does well.
Most of the shop’s customers are locals, but Zuma Jay’s also gets its share of tourists. When we visited in mid November a tourist from Belgium purchased a blue and black O’Neill ZEN Zip fullsuit. “Wetsuits,” says Manager Sophie Chea, “Everybody wants wetsuits.”
While Zuma Jay’s carries a handful of walkshorts, trunks, and T-shirts from O’Neill, the bulk of its softgoods sales comes from its vast selection of private-label products. The private-label section also has prime floor space in the quaint shop.
Candice Brown, who helps Wagner run the shop, says Zuma Jay’s gets good service from vendors, but she sees room for improvement in their shipping departments. Orders are often incomplete or inaccurate. “Shipping departments are not manned by the people who are taking the orders from us,” Brown says. “The people who are sending it are not sending the right amount, and the invoices are always off from the merchandise sent. It’s time-consuming for me.”
Still, Wagner predicts business will be better next year. “The way the Fed is printing money it’s going to eventually trickle down to all these trades,” he says. “People are still going to go out and do sports, they’re just not going to run off to Australia as quickly as they used to. That will keep the economy a little more locally based. That will be good for us.”
Window Brands: none
Major Display Brands: Zuma Jay’s surfboards, O’Neill wetsuits
Strongest Category: Wetsuits
Weakest Category: Swimwear
Strongest Brand: O’Neill
Best Rep: Pat Murphy (Body Glove)