Evo Discusses Enduring Tough Winter Through Online Sales, Buying Trends, and Fostering a Community Feel in Their Second Retail Store
Owner/Manager: Bryce Phillips (CEO)/Jordan Sunshine (Store Manager)
# of stores: 2
Square footage: 11,000
# of employees: 11 in summer, 21 in winter
It has been a big year for the crew at evo. This past November they opened their second retail store location in Portland, Oregon. Originally a Salvation Army HQ, the building was built in 1893. Undergoing a massive transformation, evo made sure to keep the historical feel and style of the building. The result is a mixed use space that features a unique blend art, design, and product. The retail floor transforms into an event space where evo frequently hosts community events such as video premieres, art galleries, and ski clinics.
Not only opening a second retail store, evo has added mountain biking and surfing to their product selection. Seeing growing interest from local customers, evo is excited to help grow the sports and build a community within the Pacific Northwest. Having endured a tough winter with minimal snowfall, outdoor enthusiasts in the area have adopted alternative activities to enjoy.
Bryce Phillips & Jordan Sunshine sit down with us to look back on the shop’s first year in Portland and discuss what is next for evo.
Describe your typical customer:
We have a broad range of customers from young kids to the forever 30-year old. Our customers are passionate about one or many of the sports we represent or are inspired to get into that sport. Our customers also love being immersed in the culture and lifestyle.
Discuss current product mix:
We carry a wide variety of ski, snowboard, bike, skate, wake, surf, and clothing. We have a mix of large known brands and smaller more unique brands. Our goal is to offer up a unique and curated product assortment in an unfamiliar way.
What are new products you've added:
Mountain bikes are new for us as a company. Specifically in Portland we carry Devinci and Transition all-mountain, trail, and downhill bikes as well as Traitor and Devinci commuter bikes. We also started carrying surf this past year, including Channel Islands, Almond, and local shapers FRESTcoast and Black Fern.
Does the product mix differ from Seattle location?
For the most part it is very similar. We do carry some different clothing specific to each location. Some categories are represented different proportionally depending on its popularity or amount of competition. Surf is larger in Portland, Bike is larger in Seattle.
What percentage of your inventory is dedicated to...
Hard goods: 65.3%
What have been some of your best selling brands this past year?
Big brands: Burton, K2, Salomon, Ronix, Rome, Atomic, Rossignol, Ride, Volkl, Flow
Small(er) brands with big growth percentages: Blackstrap, Smith Optics, Canada Goose, Flylow, Faction, Nike SB
Are there any brands that stand out to you as 'key partners'?
evo takes a conscientious approach to treat all of our brands as "key partners" regardless of size or percentage of total business. This has been invaluable to our success as a business and one we plan to continue as it is part of our DNA.
Any change in buying strategy for next season?
With the introduction of the mountain bike department and our investment into the category and infrastructure (ex: new year round permanent bike shop built to service and maintain any and all bikes year-round) within that industry we have changed the dynamic of our floor space to accommodate an appropriate presence throughout the winter months as well.
How did last year's snow condition affect future buying?
We are fortunate in that while the PNW suffered from a snowfall (or lack thereof!) deficit, the east coast had a banner year both from a temperature standpoint as well as average snowfall. Due to our reach online in addition to our brick and mortar locations we faired quite well overall. As such, we have improved our efficiencies from a regional standpoint throughout the country and will plan to sell inventories to key demographics accordingly.
Any noticeable trends in region right now?
Yes. The PNW is buying warm weather products (ex: bikes, bike apparel, bike accessories, swimwear, sandals, surf hardgoods and softgoods, wake sports hardgoods). CO continues to be interested in snow products at a disproportionate rate relative to most of the west after a solid snow year. The east coast is in the same bucket as CO after a cold and snowy winter season.
What brands and products are consumers asking for the most?
Smaller core brands, backcountry gear
What new brands are gaining traction for you?
ON3P, Dinosaurs Will Die, Depactus, Vissla, Welcome Skateboards
What % of products are bought online and then picked up in-store?
23% in Portland. 53% in Seattle.
One key lesson you've learned through opening a new storefront:
It's all about the people. Hire great people, design an amazing store, offer the best customer service and create an environment that customers want to spend time in, and the business will follow.
Top concern for your business and/or industry as a whole right now:
Specific to ski and snowboard, it's climate and overall participation, especially after what we saw in the NW last year.
What have been your most successful ways to engage with local community?
We throw quite an array of events in the store that bring in enthusiasts for each of our categories as well as the broader community: art galleries, movie premiers, skate sessions, and much more. We also have a strong focus on giving back, partnering with a number of local and national non-profits that work to empower at risk youth. Giving both financially and through volunteer work are central to our business and we look forward to further engaging our customers in Portland so that they can work with us to give back.
Please share several standout events from this past year:
The Grand Opening party was huge with over 1100 people and the GZA surprise performance. We held the 3rd annual Shaping the Northwest event in the store bringing in over 20 surfboard shapers and quite the party. Most recently we had a super fun skate setup in the parking lot that brought out crews from all over Portland.
Are you currently considering expansion to other locations? Yes. We firmly believe in stores and that delivering extraordinary customer experiences both in store and online is the right path forward for evo. Integrating into great communities and broadening our reach nationally and beyond get us excited so stay tuned for more news on that front.
Please share new additions to evo Collective team:
Ingrid Backstrom, Lucas Debari, Mathew Slaven, Lars SternBerg