EDITOR’S NOTE: Our Retail Wednesdays series profiles a different specialty retailer each week, in an effort to spotlight success stories and gain insight from shops that are continuing to grow in the face of a challenging economy. This profile is powered by our friends at Building The Revolution.
Retailer: Bare Wires Surf Shop
Location: Spring Lake, NJ
Years in Business: 7 years at this location
Interviewees: Owners Brian Smith & Adam Holloway
Interview edited for length and clarity.
Tell us how Bare Wires got started?
The original shop was located in Long Branch, New Jersey, and backed up to the edge of the largest skate park in our immediate area. It was started through a love of surfing and skating. That location is no longer there, but in 2010 we opened up in Spring Lake, NJ. Unfortunately the skating aspect took a backseat to surfing in the new location, but you have to roll with the changes. Adapt or die!
What have been the biggest changes to surf retail since Bare Wires opened?
Wetsuit companies living on the liquidation business plan, the rise of surfboard costs, clothing brands preaching MSRP and not sticking by it, along with clothing brands undercutting their retail partners.
Who do you think is doing the best to evolve with the new brick and mortar market?
Stores that are trimming the fat in their vendor list, ordering what sells for them and not what is trying to be pushed on them, and most importantly stores that provide great service and welcome everyone from beginners, to non surfers, to the core.
What can brands do to help surf shops succeed in NJ?
Expect less ordering from January through March, and understand that it’s a lot quieter in those months. Our buying habits need to reflect that even though it might not be what they are thinking.
Jason Bennett from Chemistry Surfboards did a “Meet the Shaper” event at Bare Wires earlier this month. How did that go?
It’s always a great success. Adam [Holloway] and myself both lived in Oceanside, California, for a bit and have known Jason since he was just out of high school. The original store location was the first East Coast surf shop to carry his shapes. Chemistry has a huge following in central New Jersey. They make insane performance boards, and Jason understands the good and bad waves we get here. As far as shaper special events go, who doesn’t love a board custom made for you for $490 out the door?
What are some other events you’ve done in the past that have had a direct impact on sales?
The town we are in has one of the biggest five mile races in the country on Memorial Day weekend. That coincides with our summer kickoff sidewalk sale. The town is busting out of the seams. It’s nuts.
The most important event we do is our non-profit charity surf contest. We choose a local charity that assists with youth and young adult treatment for alcohol, drugs, mental health, etc. We started after our second year in town. It’s super grassroots and the contest mostly focuses on high school age and younger, but we’ve been able to raise around $10,000 in the last six years.
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