Northeast Report

By Rene Pacheco

Scott Meredith, owner of Wave Jammer in Toms River, New Jersey says the most noticeable change in his shop has been the increasing numbers of girls interested in surfing. He has welcomed this change by offering a wider selection of women’s goods throughout his store, including surfboards and wetsuits. This new trend has been good for business, and he adds that board sales have been strong as well.

Meredith says people are now trying different styles of surfing and are purchasing different boards for various conditions. “Guys are now owning three or four boards,” he says, adding there has been a great increase in fish-style board sales. Overall, he feels business has been good.

The Boardroom in Huntington, New York is also experiencing the growing women’s market. Owner Don Pursel feels this market in surfing is picking up, and that it’s crucial to keep up with the change; “The girls’ market is my biggest one,” says Pursel. The Roxy brand/label has been extremely popular in his shop, in addition to other women’s merchandise.

The kids’ market is growing as well, he says. He feels kids want to look more like their older brothers and are willing to pay for it. Higher-end product is making its way out of the shop, and kids are spending top dollars on three big names¿Billabong, Rusty, and Quiksilver.

Pursel also mentioned that Hawai’ian prints are doing well because they have an older look.

Increased competition first comes to mind for Manager Greg Grammen of Active Edge in Fairfax, Virginia. “Surfwear has seemed to slow down.” He says this is due to big-box retailers and new emerging specialty surf shops. Grammen says his customers are more interested in smaller lines, and the shop responded by carrying different product lines. “We’re now carrying more underground ‘core product like Volcom.”

Active Edge is also carrying girls’ lines such as Roxy and HIC as well. But even with the increase in competition, Grammen tells us, “Business is steady.”

Ryan Olde, manager of Fairman’s in West Chester, Pennsylvania, says his shop is experiencing a decline in surf clothing sales. He attributes it to the big-chain stores. Big-box stores like Bloomingdale’s are carrying the “old ‘core” brands and consumers are buying it there instead. So Fairman’s is responding with an increase in its ‘core underground lines¿a factor keeping them in business.

Another change they’re dealing with is the growing girls’ market. Olde notes, “We’ve just gotten into the girls market and haven’t figured it out.” They have increased product in that area, but there seems to be some ambiguity in what his female customers are looking for in the shop. He says that girls are still shopping for small sizes in the guys’ section, leaving most of the girls’ product untouched. Olde thinks that this is due to the products being too “girlie” for the locals.

There’s a slightly different story for The Watershed in Wakefield, Rhode Island. Part-Owner David Levy says the store pushes more women’s product, namely Roxy, but they are seeing more change in board sales right now. He says longboard sales are above normal, and fish-style boards are selling just as well. Levy is also noticing a change in the desire for surfers to try different surfing styles. The shop is looking at the demands of the beginner surfer, who is interested in soft and cheaper boards. “Business is slow because of the winter weather,” Levy says, adding that the shop will stick to the basics. Come July, he plans to be well prepared.