WetSand Surf Shop
Owner, Buyer, Janitor: Shannon Menzel
Date Opened: 2007
Number of Storefronts: 1
Location(s): 446 East Main St. Ventura CA
Editors Note: For the next month, TransWorld Business is bringing you a different shop profile every day as part of our 30 Shops in 30 Days series, presented by Bustin' Boards. Keep an eye out all month for more shop spotlights from across the country.
WetSand took shape in 1998 as a surf forecast and small e-commerce site. As it began its ascent, the site became known for its emphasis on surf travel, creativity, and appreciation for the ocean. The concept behind the digital entity soon began to evolve in 2007, when owner Chuck Menzel decided to open a brick and mortar location in Ventura, "the biggest small town in California." The shop has been steadily growing since then, with support from the whole Menzel family including Shannon Menzel, Chuck’s daughter, who he brought into the business as a buyer.
“Our small business is built on family and friends who work to bring what we feel is important to surfing and the lifestyle around us,” says the management at WetSand.
We caught up with Shannon Menzel to hear more about the shop. Plus, take a tour through the brand’s Ventura, Calif. space below:
How long has WetSand Surf shop been open?
We opened our brick and mortar in October 2007.
What was your experience in retail before opening Wetsand Surf?
Zero retail experience! Wetsand Surf shop first started online in 1998. We sold surf accessories back in the day when the Wetsand Surf forecast was just getting started. The store grew very organically so learning retail came over time.
Who are some of the typical customers of Wetsand Surf?
Surfer's who don't live the stereotypical surf lifestyle. Non-surfer's who love the culture. Ocean lovers, fashion appreciators, surf innovators.
What are the top items and trends checking in the store right now?
I love how the guys are getting into the fashion headwear thing, It’s not just for the hipster anymore! Wear that thing to the beach, doing yardwork, or to your favorite watering hole, and I don’t mean swimming hole. [For women], bikinis in minimal bottoms and unique fitting tops—bralette, high neck—with textured or reversible fabrics. I’m loving Made by Dawn and Acacia.
What are the weather and surf conditions like in Ventura?
MUST LOVE FOG. That's what our "Welcome to Ventura" sign should say. At least for the Summer months. I'll tell you the biggest Ventura secret: The best months for surf and weather? December. Many of Christmas' have been spent in 80 degrees surfing. All. Day. Long.
What brands are your top sales performers?
Brixton, Free People, Vans, and our WetSand Label is doing awesome. We love the support!
What are some of the new brands gaining traction at your store?
On the men’s side, OurCaste is adding another dimension to the traditional surf company. Our customer is usually all over the gamut of hobbies and interests (surf, bike , hike, skate, and OurCaste seems to be directing themselves to the multi-faceted guys. I’m seeing a [women’s] customer draw toward the Australia brands. Mink Pink and their sister companies, Evil Twin and Some Days Lovin’. They are fashion-forward but still wearable, beachy styles.
What are the top accessories this year that you see going forward?
The whole fashion headwear trend is going strong on the men’s and women’s side. Accessories are doing really well. Hats, leather bags, and purses, jewelry—I see that being huge for Spring 2015 because you do not have to reinvent your closet to update it.
If your shop had a theme song, what would it be?
The soundtrack to Empire Records.
Where do you usually spend your lunch break?
At my desk.
Favorite locals best keep secrets? (surf spots and otherwise)
Not much of a secret: Corrales Mexican food. Hangover cure, post surf fuel, Ventura landmark. Order the Munchers and thank me later.
Best moments that make you love your job?
5-year-old Lilly Curran telling people she is a "WetSand girl".
Favorite local surfers?
Pierce Flynn and Sage Erickson.
Favorite all time surf movie?
Shelter. I watched that more repeatedly than Top Gun circa 1986!
Do you have an online store?
Who are the top three reps that service your store and what makes them special?
1. Sean Haggar – Brixton. Super positive, love his sense of humor, and he's a speeding emailer (yes, this gives you good points!)
2. Bryan Wiertzema – Sun Bum. Bryan works really hard, stops in the shop regularly, he's super personable and he dusts my shelving.
3. EJ Heintz – Vans. EJ is a straight up hard working down-to-earth guy.
What are your expectations for business over the next 6-12 months?
The brick and mortar is humming nicely… now we are really looking forward to growing online!