In the 1950’s Hobie Alter opened up his first shop in Dana Point, California. An innovator in making surfboards then, today the company is again leading the way in their efforts to minimize its environmental impact. In the last two stores opened in Dana Point and Corona Del Mar, Hobie has installed over 32 Solatubes in order to gain efficiency with natural lighting while cutting back on electricity use. Also working hard to reduce water use, they have incorporated drought resistant succulents, plants, and decomposed granite in the stores’ landscaping.
Contributing writer Michael Sudmeier caught up with Hobie Surf Partner Jake Schwaener to talk about customers approach to green products and how they have worked with sustainable products over the years.
What led to the decision to feature an ASEC Green Room in your store and what role does it play in the company’s retail efforts?
Our company has been involved with sustainable products for over 10 years now. We have been quietly sourcing our own organic blanks for use in our Private Label products and have been a long time partner with Patagonia. The decision to work with ASEC came along when Frank [Scurra] started making a push into the action sports market and his presence at the trade shows. As more vendors started making their push into producing sustainable products, it just made sense for us to create an environment in which to showcase “Products with a Purpose” and it’s just the right thing to do.
Through the years, have you seen a change in how customers approach products that have reduced environmental impact? If so, what are these changes?
I think that “Sustainability” is the new “Quality.” Ever since the Recycled Logo was introduced on April 22nd, 1970 on the first Earth Day the environmental movement still resonates. Eight percent of Baby Boomers view themselves as basically “green.” They are more willing to pay for environmentally responsible products. Hybrid cars, solar panels, biodegradable soap, eco-friendly trash bags, and recycling are all nationwide habits now.
What role do you see retailers playing in efforts to minimize the environmental impact of the action sports industry?
First, identify the vendors that "truly" support building products that are innovative, using sustainable steps in their footprint to get product to market and work together to get involved in the communities where their stores are. Secondly, get involved in local grass root environmental programs and non-profits that share in the vision of sustainability. Last and probably not the most popular thing I will say, but try and find products that are built right here in the USA with a sustainable conscious and one more thing – Try and do more with less!