San Deigo Retail Tour: Performance Board Center

Performance Board Center
Leucadia, California

For most surf shops, softgoods are priority. Who could blame them? Margins are better, they take up less space, and generally get better sell-through. But for Performance Board Center it’s all about hardgoods.


Surfboards comprise the shop’s strongest category, followed by accessories and apparel. Last year the 1,800-square-foot shop sold more than 350 boards — not bad for a shop that’s only been in business for two years. Co-owner Ben Kelley says Performance is OAM’s second-largest account in San Diego, behind Surf Ride.

Kelley and business-partner Guy Trotter have made the most of the floor plan, which resembles a house more than a retail space. Racks of clothes from Billabong, Volcom, Rusty, Lost, and Counter Culture take up the front room, accessories are in the middle room, and surfboards and wetsuits have staked claim to the back room, which runs the width of the shop.

Among apparel, Billabong and Hurley have the most prominent displays, but none of the brands are clear leaders. “Whoever makes the coolest pair of trunks has the best sell-through,” says Kelley. In other words, most of Performance’s customers shop by look or price — not by brand.


As Performance works through its third year in business, it’s grappling with the fact that this year hasn’t been as good as last year. But Kelley recognizes that last year’s sales were unusually strong, and sales are way up when compared to the shop’s inaugural year. “I’d say the health of our business is a solid eight out of ten,” says Kelley.

Window Brands: Billabong, Lost
Major Display Brands: Billabong, Rusty, Counter Culture, Lost, Hurley
Strongest Category: Surfboards
Weakest Category: Women’s apparel, bodyboards
Best Reps: Aaron Griffith (Lost), Lance Barron (Counter Culture), Mark Weber (Hurley)

Shop Location