Hawai’i Shop Report

Hawaii Five-O Manager Chris Swink says on the North Shore skateboarding hard- and softgoods lines are definitely becoming a substantial part of her overall sales.

“The skate lines¿which are popular primarily with the younger kids¿have definitely taken off in the last few years,” she says.

However, despite growth in these areas, the shop’s best-selling lines remain Da Hui and North Shore Underground. Both brands do well with tourists and locals alike.

Skate videos have gained popularity and contribute to a substantial part of video sales, but Swink notes the shop’s best-selling video is currently the new surf title, The Bomb.

“Skateboard videos are doing well because they do what other videos won’t,” says Swink. “For example, kids seem to love the new XYZ video because it’s jam-packed with all kinds pyromania.”

On the other side of the island in Honolulu, Headside Board Shop Manager Mike Egan says his shop’s primary concern is accommodating the demands of tourists from Japan.

Egan says Headside actually puts more emphasis on surf products that conform to the demands of the snow and skate subculture. Volcom and Counter Culture share space with Shorty’s and other skate-only products.

“Tourism drives the industry over here, but the ‘core surf industry in Hawai’i will never be entirely overrun by other sports,” says Egan. “You have a longboard contingent that still rules many of the lineups over here. That isn’t going anywhere soon.”

According to Kevin Aviyama, owner of Big Island Surf Company in Hilo on the Big Island, “We’re not so concerned with skateboarding replacing surfing. After all, surfers who skate still surf. Our problem is surfing being replaced by bodyboarding.”

Aviyama notes that Big Island has little demand for skate products, and clothing lines like Quiksilver still dominate shop sales.

“We live in a small community, so our product demand is primarily from locals¿not tourists,” says Aviyama. “Maybe that’s why we’ve had to remain primarily a ‘core surf shop focused more on the specific needs of surfers in the area.”

On the other side of the island in Kona, Micheal McMicheal, longtime owner of Pacific Vibrations Surf Shop, says, “Skateboarding has influenced everything from hats to shoes¿and everything in-between.”

Although kids aren’t necessarily buying actual skate products, he says they’re more interested in products with the “skateboarder” image.

McMicheal, who gets most of his business from locals, says the best-selling clothing¿whether it’s a surf or skate brand¿is stamped with either a beautiful girl or tribal-tattoo image. Brands with all-around appeal such as Dragon, Quiksilver, and Billabong have always sold the best.

Keith Holland, owner of Simmer Hawaii on Maui, says surfing has actually had a bit of a revival in his shop, especially with the younger generations. “We see little need to carry skate products,” he says.

Companies such as MCD and Solitude remain favorites, while skate videos are a nonstarter. However, with Maui being a windsurfing mecca, Holland’s best-selling video is a windsurfing film called Total Insanity.

¿Casey Macker