30/30: Hansen’s

Hansen’s Surf Shop In Encinitas, California

Hansen’s has been in Encinitas for decades and the ever-expanding shop has become an integral part of the community. The 16,000 square foot surf shop is the largest in San Diego, Calif., according to their website. It was founded by Don Hansen who shaped Hansen’s boards. Some of his original models can still be found on sale at the location in Encinitas, although his son Josh runs the business now.

We caught up with Josh to learn more about the shop’s history and business strategies. He is big on creating a destination spot in southern California, which is one of the reasons they haven’t opened more locations. Josh is also passionate about the store’s involvement in the community, which is why they encourage local K-12 students to aim for A’s through their “goods for grades” program.

Check out the full interview.

Over time Hansen’s has expanded a ton yet you guys still only have one location, why is that?

I get that question all the time. We have a unique situation where we have the ability to expand and continue to expand. We just opened the new Rip Curl store, which was kind of our latest expansion. We feel like we can grow this one location and continue to make it a destination.

It’s a place where people who visit San Diego want to come check out. It represents surf in the purest form. One, being just the history of Hansen’s, and Don Hansen’s background, then also just because we have a big footprint we can showcase all the surf, skate and snow brands really well.

What department brings in the most sales?

Our men’s categories, men’s soft goods, board shorts, and walk shorts are a major category.Our sandal category as you walk through the store is a great destination. It’s a place to come see thousands of sandals.

Another category that we’ve felt has always been part of our transitioning over the last ten years is back into being surf. You probably wouldn’t know this but at one point we sold almost no surfboards.

We did an addition back in 2005 or 2006 and we built a big surfboard showroom. We carry about 500 surfboards now. That’s been a really important part of the biz. Not so much from a pure business or monetary perspective but the intangible value. We’re a surfboard manufacturer and we’re a surf shop in its purest form so we need to have a lot of surf boards.

How has the store’s location shaped the business?

We’re very blessed. We own all our property and we’re right across the street from a really famous surf break [Swami’s]. Encinitas has become kind of that killer sleepy surf community.

Encinitas is a huge asset. We’re lucky to be where we are. Whenever we talk to people who come from LA, “sleepy surf community” seems to be a common description of the town. In the summertime it’s a zoo but besides the summer time it’s pretty laid back and a little more chill than San Clemente or Orange County which is a bit more high energy.

How is the new Rip Curl addition doing?

It’s still pretty new. We’re still pretty early in the game here. It’s been close to three months. It’s been a successful piece, Rip Curl is a really solid brand and it has great wetsuit business. They’re a great partner and for us it makes sense. I’ve had some people call and ask why we decided to do it. We had the opportunity and I felt that Rip Curl is a really solid brand with great products and I felt that they were under represented in the store so it was a good fit. So far, so good.

It would be quick and easy to just totally isolate everything and look at it strictly from a purely business, money, dollars and cents perspective but I always look a little more big picture and try to see see how there might be some intangible value to something like that. Anytime you can give someone a reason to come and just get a little different feel, more products, bigger you know, and do it when it’s kind of side-by-side from the  mom and pop shop like Hansen’s it creates more of a destination.

So you get the company side plus you get the mom and pop side and you get a great selection. You can find everything. We have arguably some of the two most sought after wetsuit brands and we represent them, O’Neil and Rip Curl. Obviously we do all the other brands, Quiksilver and Billabong, which are all worthy wetsuit brands. If you can’t find it here, you’re probably not going to be able to find it.

Hansen’s encourages local students to do well in school by giving out Hansen’s dollars for good grades. Can you tell me a bit about that?

Yes it’s called our Goods for Grades Program. It’s single handedly the best community driven program we’ve ever done in the 50 years of Hansen’s. We love giving Hansen’s dollars to students, first through 12th grade. The program has grown leaps and bounds. It’s pretty amazing, we give away tons and tons of money now which we love doing. The kids love it, the parents love it, obviously we love it because it brings a lot of people into the shop. It’s just a good program for everyone. It’s a win-win-win across the board. Any way we can promote education, we’re there and ready to help.

We try to help donate and do lots of charity work and give to everybody we can and that’s just one of the bigger ways we do. It’s instant gratification for the kids. We feel like we’re building a customer that will grow up and bring in their kids. It’s just like a cycle that continues to grow with more people getting involved.

 How has being a family run business affected your business strategy?

Probably being the epitome of a family owned business, with my mom, dad, Christen, my brother and Heidi, my sister, and myself all working for the company, I think we’re very blessed and I think it trickles down to all the employees that work at Hansen’s. We have a lot of incredible managers and employees that have been here for over 30 years. There is at least 10 employees that have been working here for at least15, if not 20 years. In my opinion that just shows how family oriented we really are. It trickles down into the customer service and the experience we give our customers. They see those same people year in and year out. They build relationships and trust. It all starts from the top and Don is the top. He’s been that leader caring about everybody, being honest, hardworking and taking care of everyone.

Inventory percentages:

Women’s: 25%

Men:    35%

Surf     25

Snow:  15%

How are the stand-up paddle (SUP) sales going?

We do SUP, we clump that into our surf. For a while there it was kind of blowing up but we weren’t really seeing any of that at retail. But now we definitely have people coming and asking questions and buying stand up paddle boards and paddles and all that stuff.