Daddies Board Shop
Owners: Daron and Melissa Horwitz, Melanie Loveland, and partners
Date Opened: November 10,1995
Number of storefronts: 1
Location: Portland, Oregon
Daddies Board Shop was founded by a mom and her son in the mid-nineties. Melanie Loveland, and son Dan, found themselves in a bind one winter. The Lovelands had become self-labeled addicts, spending all of their free time snowboarding and skateboarding during the late 80s, and as a result the family was familiar with many of the local boardshops in their Portland, Oregon, neighborhood. But it was becoming more and more difficult for them to find a shop that spoke their language. Taking the knowledge of existing retailers into consideration, the Lovelands began to re-think what a shop experience should be like.
” I was very unimpressed by those shops specifically because of how they treated younger ones,” says Loveland. “The kids were really never taken seriously. I felt that Portland really needed a good local skate shop where kids were taken seriously, whether they had money or not. That, coupled up with our passion for snowboarding, was the main reason we started Daddies Board Shop.”
The name "Daddies" was specifically chosen so that it would be easily recognizable by youth, and that seemed to work, sticking with the shop as it built its name and clientele over the next 16 years. In 2011, Loveland opted to retire in order to spend more time with her family, but the shop was given a second chance to excel. Husband and wife team Daron and Melissa Horwitz took over the shop and have since been running the show, while Loveland remains on as a business partner.
We caught up with the Horwitz’s to hear more about their strategy with Daddies Board Shop moving forward. Take a quick tour of Daddies here:
Daron and Melissa, what’s the story behind why you came on board as Daddies owners?
Daron Horwitz: As Melanie mentioned, she founded the company in 1995. She worked her butt off until 2011 when she was ready to retire and spend quality time with her grandkids. My wife, Melissa, and I were living in Chicago at the time with our three kiddos. I was working in finance and while I really enjoyed my job, I was looking for more meaningful personal growth, a creative outlet, and the opportunity to build something special. In a nutshell, Melissa and I were eager to chart a different path for ourselves. I learned that Melanie was ready to retire, and we bought the business along with some other partners. It's now been almost three years. Melanie is one of my partners but she spends most of her time with her family and working on various projects. She worked so hard for a long, long time and deserves only the best. I couldn't be more stoked for her.
How did you decide to expand into an online presence after building the brick-and-mortar space?
Daron: We started as a store first, then online grew a lot and that became our focus. When Melissa and I started at Daddies at the end of 2011, we decided to hire more people so we could have our cake and eat it too: retail and online. Retail for us is critical. One thing I love about retail is that we feel like we have more control over our destiny locally than online. Online, we have very little ability to affect the overall demand for what we sell. We're at the mercy of the market. But locally, our presence can matter if we pound the pavement enough. We can hit the skateparks and hand out stickers. We can hold lots of local events at the shop. And we can generate local PR buzz, bringing people to the shop who might otherwise not even be considering buying what we have to sell.
Retail is also so important for us because it allows us to stay close with customers. There is obviously a dialogue that can go on in-store that can't happen online. We also use retail to help grow our online business. For example, every local event we have is covered online.
What percentage of your business is online vs. brick and mortar?
90% online vs 10% brick and mortar
Percentage of inventory dedicated to:
hardgoods? 90% hardgoods; 10% soft goods
men’s apparel? 4%
Juniors apparel? 1%
What are your top three most profitable product categories?
Apparel, shoes, wheels
What aspect of the store has been driving the most growth recently?
Soft goods. While our history is in hardgoods, about two years ago we decided it was time to make the push to soft goods. It's been scary for us because hard goods and soft goods are pretty different businesses. We've definitely stumbled from time to time, but it's going pretty well.
Who are the top three reps that service your store and what makes them special?
I should first say that we genuinely have SO MANY great reps – and a couple who are rougher around the edges – but here goes:
Dan Briggs – Loaded Boards. Dan is indeed the man. He plays his rep role perfectly: he's available 24/7, responds quickly, makes sure orders get out super fast, and proactively brings mistakes to our attention (if a billing error occurs that "favors" Loaded, for example, Dan will tell me about it). Most importantly, perhaps, Dan isn't just a sales guy. He cares a lot about protecting the Loaded brand. For example, he's really great about communicating product release information and dates with retailers so everyone is on the same page.
Luke Yates – Vans. Vans was the first shoe company we brought in and Luke really mentored us through the process. He didn't just help us place an order but also helped us think about how to build a shoe program. I had several calls with him about shoe buying in general and never once did he tire of my dumb questions – at least he didn't let on that he was tired of them. Luke was also nice enough to record several product review videos for us – these primarily helped our online efforts but it was rad he did it nonetheless.
Clint Graham – Volcom. As we mentioned above, we're relatively new to soft goods. A year ago, we didn't know what we were doing and today we're only a little bit better. Clint was there from the very beginning for us. He's a true partner. Last year, he visited our shop for no other reason than to answer questions about how to build our soft goods program and to put us in touch with reps from his competitors so we could move forward more quickly. When we needed help hiring a new buyer, Clint was quick to offer up recommendations. And Clint puts a lot of thought into product recommendations and orders for us. He never makes us feel like he's selling us on something we don't need. One of our favorite things to hear from a rep is: you shouldn't order that. We hear it from Clint all the time. We trust him completely. Clint works for a big company and has big accounts but always makes us feel important.
Cuong Lieng – Tum Yeto. You asked for three, but I want to add a fourth. We only recently started working with Cuong but he's killing it for us. We want to acknowledge that he's going above and beyond. He's super professional, informative and personable.
What is your overall impression of the local market over the past six months?
Honestly, we have no clue and it doesn't really matter to us. Ok, it matters some – things would be easier if the markets for our products were booming and we had no competitors. But neither is true. At the retail level in particular, we truly feel like we control our own destiny. The market is what the market is.
What store (or multiple stores) are your closest competition?
Now that we sell soft goods, pretty much everyone is our competition. I see a number of the brands we carry in Macy's and Nordstrom. Of course there are brands that are able to resist the temptation to go mass market, but the reality is that we have a pretty broad definition of who our competition is.
And then there is Amazon – which is apparently ready to start using noisy, alien space pods to drop skateboards on people's heads so they can get them within three hours of ordering. This won't happen over our shop since my coworkers are intent on shooting down all drones that fly overhead. Not because they hate Amazon; they just hate the idea of shit buzzing over our heads.
One day, I'm going to have to move to the middle of nowhere….
Overall expectations for your business over the next 6-12 months?
We gave up trying to predict sales. Turns out we're really bad at it – or we're just too small to be able to make good predictions.
We just invest as much as we can in our business, our coworkers and our community and hope that it will all work out in the end if we make enough good decisions. I'm sure this sounds like an evasive answer but it's totally true.
Is your shop altering the way you buy for 2015?
A bit. When we started buying soft goods a year ago, we didn't know much about what people would buy from us. We especially didn't know what sizes of product we should carry and in what quantities. Fast forward a year later and we have enough data to make a few less guess.
Is your shop working closer with any particular brands?
Never Summer has been an amazing partner forever. From our rep, Tim Eberly, to the big cheeses at corporate like Gags, Never Summer has been great to us. Our favorite recent project with them is our first collab board where we are donating 10% of sales to Protect Our Winters, an environmental research organization. Not only was Never Summer willing to take the time and resources to produce a limited run board, they were willing to take a bite out of their sales to make this work.
The Landyachtz crew is always up for finding creative ways to work together. One example: they supply us with lots of demo gear to run events at Mt. Tabor, a Portland hill, for locals to try out the latest and greatest. We also started running a contest a couple of years back called the Month of Insanity in which our vendors contribute loads of prizes to our customers. Landyachtz proactively reached out to us last year and asked to be a title sponsor, where they contributed a trip to a marquee event up in Canada. They stepped up big time.
Girl/Chocolate/Lakai: What I love about this crew is that they run a big business but are still very accessible and open to working with shops of all sizes. About six months ago, Rick Howard and Mike Carroll showed up for a shop tour. What came out of that visit was a number of signed Howard/Carroll decks to sell and contests to jointly promote. As an aside, I'll tell you that grown men were crying when those dudes walked in the door.