By John Maynard
Aside from their trademark mashed potato, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches, the guys at Earth Core¿a jack-of-all-trades shop that will give you anything from chicken cordon bleu to a nipple piercing¿in Edison, New Jersey are selling clothing lines primarily from O’Neill and WRV, says Manager Craig Baily. Because Earth Core is a ways from the beach, Baily says most of his customers are looking for value, not name brand.
“We don’t sell boardshorts over 40 bucks because stores like Old Navy are selling similar ones for $19.99,” says Baily.
As a result, trade shows are not that important from a buying standpoint. Plus, Baily says the reps come to him, making trade shows less of a necessity. Nonetheless, he’ll be attending the ASR show in Atlantic City: “The parties are unreal.”
Ken Roughton, owner of Fenwick Island Surf Shop, located on Fenwick Island, Delaware, carries a similar attitude toward the ASR shows: look but don’t touch. While Roughton attends the ASR in September and the Surf Expo in January, he says he doesn’t do any of his buying there.
“I mainly use the shows as a preview and then I go home and order from the shop,” says Roughton.
He isn’t carrying any new brands this year because he hasn’t been too impressed with any of the new lines. Instead, he’ll stick to the bigger surf brands such as Quiksilver, Billabong, and Rusty.
While Fenwick Island stays with industry icons, Matt Rivers, manager of Pump House Surf Shop in Orlean, Massachusettes, says his shop is testing some new products.
For this season, Pump House has picked up Blue Planet, T&C surfboards, and Aleeda wetsuits. While these new-to-the-store lines are selling well, Rivers says that Pump House has experienced a huge jump in women’s apparel: “We’re doing a lot more girls’ stuff.”
Pump House reps will attend the Surf Expo in Orlando.
Bianca Deacon, manager of Sunshine House in Ocean City, Maryland, has also witnessed the women’s boom in surf-related apparel.
“There’s a big increase in the women’s market every year,” says Deacon.
In order to meet the growing demand for women’s apparel, Deacon says that Sunshine House is now selling Lucy Love and both the men’s and women’s lines from Toes on the Nose. “They’re our two biggest new brands,” she says/
Sunshine House gets the inside scoop on the industry’s latest lines at the Atlantic City and Orlando shows, where, Deacon estimates, the store does roughly 50 percent of its buying. The other half of the store buying is done through reps.
A Way of Life Inc., in Dewey Beach, Delaware, also does about half of its buying at the ASR shows, says Manager Michael McDonough, and they attend trade shows in Florida and Atlantic City.
While the store continues to carry the big-name surf brands such as O’Neill and Billabong, McDonough says A Way of Life has recently started selling Counter Culture, Aaron Chang, and big-time newcomer, Hurley. Of the three new brands, Hurley is selling the strongest.