Northwest Shop Report

By Casey Macker

For Pancho Martain, owner of Pancho’s Surf Shop in Pismo Beach, California, allocating 3,000 square feet of his 7,500-square-foot shop to women’s surf clothing was the obvious thing to do given industry trends. The department, Girls School, is dedicated entirely to the demands of the expanding women’s surf-clothing market. Pancho feels the surf industry, as a whole, has been in somewhat of a recession in the last few years, and the women’s lines are what’s keeping shops like his out of the red. He has added such lines as Rusty Girls and HIC’s women’s division to his shop’s mix.

“Roxy has always been the dominator, but the new lines from Rusty and HIC are doing incredibly well also,” says Martain. Not far up the coast, O’Neill Surf Shop‘s Manager Josh Shorrock takes a similar approach to the women’s market. The shop recently moved into a new location, and part of their arrangement consists of a second floor that is exclusive to women’s surf clothing. The new departmentalized setup allows for a women’s division that is much more specialized.

Aside from trends in women’s clothing, Shorrock has witnessed a rush on their premium suits for this season. He attributes the trend to “a year after El Niño when water temperatures drop back into their seasonal norms.” He is amazed that some of their middle-of-the-line suits, which are competively priced at 209 dollars, are being out sold by O’Neill’s new Evo Zen Zip suits, which are priced above 300 dollars.

Forty-five miles up Highway 1 in Half Moon Bay, California, Cowboy Surf Shop Manager Lucy Turner has also noticed a significant increase in wetsuit sales since last year. Athough the grassroots surf shop has seen little need for going full blown with women’s lines: “The conventional surf equipment has moved rather well this winter.” She notes that clothing lines such as Volcom and Lost are also gaining popularity and contributing to sales.

In California’s Humboldt County, Humboldt Surf Company Owner Kirk Martin has noticed little change in the local surf industry other than a dying interest in snowboarding. He says that kids are becoming more reluctant to drive four hours to the nearest resort, and as a result most of them have returned to either skateboarding or surfing. He does note, however, that the recent revolution in zipperless wetsuits has increased sales in that department, and things such as booties, hoods, and gloves are always in high demand.

Scott Borwell, owner of The Slant board shop in Anacotes, Washington runs his store in a different manner than other shops in the area. Borwell is faced with a seasonally restricted surf market, and he complements his board shop with other outdoor sporting goods that are gaining popularity in the region. Surf apparel and equipment from manufactures such as Rusty, Volcom, and Quiksilver share space with snowboards, mountain bikes, and wakeboards. “Although there is a demand for surf gear from hardcore surfers in the area, I only sell around 30 boards a year,” says Borwell.