Location: Lake Worth Florida
Owner/Mgr.: Joe Varricchio
Number of storefronts: 1
Square footage: 3,000
Joe Varricchio of Lake Worth, Florida, has learned the ins and outs, and the do’s an don’ts of running a skate shop after working for a similar business for nearly twenty years. No stranger to the game, Varricchio spent most of his youth working year round at surf shop in New York called Sea Level. After relocating to Florida for college, he landed a job at a watersports store in Ft. Lauderdale called Obsession, which sold everything from skateboards to windsurfers.
At the end of 1999, Varricchio decided to take a stab at retail himself, scouting out a decent location and opening his own small shop, Shred Shed, next to the only skate park in the county.
“We are just a good neighborhood shop,” says Varricchio. “A place where you can feel comfortable. You can come in, throw in a DVD, sit on the couch and eat lunch. We're a core shop without the attitude of a core shop.”
Intrigued by the story behind Shred Shed, and some of the well-known up-and-coming skaters its produced such as Brad Cromer, we asked Varricchio a few questions on the shop model, what’s been moving, and the philosophy behind the Lake Worth retail location. Here’s what he had to say.
What do you think you're best known for?
I would like to say our selection of product, but I think it's really the talented kids we have riding for us now and the kids that used to ride for us.
How many employees do you generally have at one time?
How do you recruit, train, and retain good employees?
We try to get the kids who ride for us interested in working with us. There are perks of being a shop rider and shop employee.
What have been some key milestones in the shop's history since you opened?
One of our team riders, Brad Cromer, turning pro in 2013 for Krooked Skateboards. Getting the call telling me that in the morning Krooked was presenting Brad with his Pro Deck put chills down my spine.
NO! Every single thing we have sold in fifteen years was from someone walking in our front door.
Do you operate a private label brand, and are private label sales a big part of your business?
Shop decks and shop tees. [They make up] 10% of deck sales and less then 1% of apparel. We mostly give away our shop T-shirts.
Describe your typical customer.
Our customer base is that kid/guy who only wants to skate and not a lot of our local skaters quit skating. It's what they do. Florida weather allows that.
Discuss your current product mix. How is it influenced by your region?
We are not a Zumiez or a surf shop that sells skateboards. We are A SKATEBOARD SHOP. No shorts, no sunglasses, no trunks, no women's apparel or shoes, no cut and sew. We sell tees, pants, hats, shoes, and a lot of hardgoods.
What percentage of your inventory is dedicated to…
Men's Apparel 30%
Women's/Juniors Apparel 0%
What brands have you carried the longest?
DC Shoes, Lakai, Volcom, all things Sole Tech and Deluxe SF, Girl
What are currently your three most profitable product categories?
Shoes, accessories, and apparel.
Have they changed within the past year? If so, how?
Yes, you used to have someone put three tees on the counter for $60, now its two pairs of fancy socks and a sticker.
What has been your best selling brand over the past 6 months?
What's your overall impression of the local market over the past year?
Big Box [stores] competing with us for the same customer.
What are some things that brands are doing to help your business?
Limiting product to some chain stores helps out once a month.
Are there any brands or programs that really stand out?
Monthly quick strikes, you get to steal from Peter to pay Paul.
What brand(s) has/have stood out as the best overall "partner" since you've been in business?
Deluxe and Girl/Lakai and Nike SB
How have you altered the way you buy over the past few seasons?
Let the sales reps do it.
Are you altering the way you buy for next year?
Are there any profound trends that you're noticing right now in your region?
Off-price this, and off-price that! The question of "when is this going on sale?" Hate It!
What are your expectations for your business over the next 6-12 months?
Xmas can't come any sooner.
Where are you seeing the best margins?
What brands are consumers coming in and asking for the most?
Nike SB and Vans
What new brands are gaining traction for you?
Name the top three reps that service your store and what makes them special.
Mike Andruszko .. Wants to give team/shop rider support
Nick Halkis.. Wants to see your business grow
Rees Milikin.. Wants to make sure your profitable
What's one key lesson that you've learned through running this business?
You can't have everything and the customer is NOT always right.
What is your top concern for your business and/or the industry as a whole right now?
The pro's of this sport are getting old fast, and the younger pro's get "no love."
What makes you optimistic about your business and/or the industry right now?
We have a lot of young talented skaters around right now, with years for building a fan base.
What are the standout events that you host or programs that you run for consumers?
We sponsor contest three times a year at our local park, we also sponsor the skate camp in the summer.
Do you expect your business to grow over the next year?
Nope, we are sustaining our business where it's at right now for the next few years is our goal.
Last specific moment that really made you love your job?
My daughter's English teacher used to skate behind our old shop when he was younger. He told her he credits me for him going back to school.
Who are some of the standouts from your shop team?
Brad Cromer who is now Pro. Joey Ragali who is Am for Foundation, Jonathan Ettman, John Diloranzo, Matt Finley, Zac Gracie, Mikey Mavo.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Search us on Google and please take a look inside our store on Google Maps it's pretty cool.