evo: 2011 TransWorld Business Overall & Hardgoods Retailer Of The Year

evo President Atsuko Tamura

We asked brands and reps for their top nation wide accounts for Shop of the Year and Hardgoods Retailer of the Year and Seattle’s evo was the resounding favorite in both categories across all sports. We caught up with President Atsuko Tamura to hear about the strategies and business philosophies that earned them these prestigious awards.

Tell us a little about your store, how long its been around, what brands you carry, and who your customers are.
We’ve been in business since 2011, and opened the store in October, 2005 in the Fremont neighborhood, an art, cultural, and lifestyle boutique retail community in Seattle.  We carry all of the same product brands that we feature on our site – evo.com.  In our store, we also carry a more culled assortment of mens and womens streetwear, for example a few casual footwear brands, so that we can offer products that support both the activity and lifestyle needs of our customers.

On the hard goods side we carry well known brands like K2, Lib, Capita, Union, and Burton to name a few.  We also carry new and high growth brands Jones, Bataleon, Never Summer and 32.  We always try to introduce new brands to keep our assortment fresh and interesting, and so that it offers our customers a broad range of alternatives.  On the technical outerwear side, we take a similar approach in that we offer established outerwear brands like Burton, Oakley, and The North Face, but carry newer specialty brands like Holden, 686 and Armada.  We’ve also rounded out our accessories assortment by adding brands like Spy and Electric while continuing to grow brands like Smith.  Over the last few years in particular, we’ve added a lot of streetwear from great brands like RVCA, Obey, Quiksilver, and Volcom.  Having these brands resonates with the action sports customer and to evo, and offers the full breath of product that speaks to the action sports lifestyle customer.

Our store shoppers range from very experienced skiers and snowboarders, to those who are just starting out, and, many who actually like to do both.  People see us as a reliable specialty shop  who they count on to offer the broadest and most complete assortment of everything they need – hardgoods, technical outerwear and accessories, and most importantly, be met and serviced by our awesome employees who are knowledgeable and passionate about what they love to do, and are fun, approachable, and helpful.  We get so many comments both about our store employees and our customer care team that we are great at listening, caring and outfitting our customers.  Another point about the breadth of our customers is that it’s not skewed by gender or age – we have  a lot of men and women shoppers of all ages, as well as families with both young kids and teen agers who shop, and often times the whole family finds something they like.

It’s interesting – you were the runner up in the Northwest, but you won the overall retailer and hardgoods retailer on a national basis – what do you think that says about your reach and what you’ve been doing this year?

To address the Northwest comment, of course we want to be #1, and we strive to be the leader everywhere and especially in our own neck of the woods.  That said, we have some amazing competitors right in our own backyard who do things really well – everything from brands they carry and how they are featured, knowledgeable staff, and accessibility as well as being long-standing retail brands with a lot of loyalty.  Competition is good – it keeps us all healthy and striving more for both our customers and the overall industry.  And it means more people out there enjoying what we love to do.

What’s really exciting to us is this national recognition.  Wow. Our whole team had a similar reaction: a humble but stoked “wow!”   This recognition means a ton to us – we’ve worked really hard to build our brand in a way that could have the broadest reach to action sports enthusiasts – everywhere.  We’ve invested in building the elements of our brand that are important: commerce, culture, community and cause.  We’ve done things to drive traffic to our site through things like our domain switch from evogear.com to evo.com, featuring our store location and events held there, we’ve delivered better content through social mediums like our blog and facebook, and we’ve amped up our email program to communicate with both local Seattle base customers and on a national level.  This year, we introduced a new marketing tool for us – a direct mail piece which is our first catalog, which served as another medium to tell the evo story.  We also had our 10-year Anniversary party in October which generated a lot of press for us.  We’re known for being a gathering place in the community – locally, with our vendor partners, other business partners, customers and employees.  Our anniversary party attendance and attention was a pure demonstration of that.