Surf N Sea, Haleiwa, Hawaii: Hawaii’s Oldest Surf and Dive Shop
Surf N Sea
Location(s): Haleiwa Hawaii
Owner/Mgr.: Joe and Naoko Green
# of storefronts: 1
Square footage: 2350 Sq.ft. (2 floors)
Located in The Aloha State, Surf N Sea is Hawaii’s ocean sports headquarters. Opening in 1965, the shop is recognized by SIMA as Hawaii’s oldest surf and dive shop. No longer a small surf town, Haleiwa has become a year-round destination for locals and tourists. The winter season brings excellent surf conditions and summertime offers amazing dive/snorkel conditions. Surf N Sea is a huge proponent of training and educating its retail staff to give customers a memorable experience. The shop carries a successful private label, offering tourists an excellent souvenir to bring back to the mainland.
Celebrating their 50th anniversary, Surf N Sea took some time out to talk to us about how they are celebrating the milestone and what’s new at the shop.
How has your business changed since you opened?
We strive to keep doing better and we do. Haleiwa isn't a little quiet surf town anymore. It's become a major destination for tourists and locals. We stay busy year around. Winter, North Shore gets huge surf and summers we have beautiful dive and snorkel conditions. We've honed in on this and have what our customer needs year around. We're a one stop surf shop.
What have been some key milestones in the shop's history since you opened?
Our biggest milestone as of yet has been making 50 years of business. Recognized by SIMA as Hawaii's oldest surf and dive shop.
What sets you apart from other core retailers?
We market ourselves as Hawaii's Ocean Sports Headquarters.
Because we are the only surf shop on the beach, SUP and Kayak rentals are very convenient. We can launch out into the ocean right from our back yard. There is also the Anahulu stream right next to us that flows right under our iconic Rainbow Bridge where Turtles like to hang around. It's sheltered from the wind and surf and makes for a calm 45min round trip paddle. Another awesome thing about being right on the beach is that anyone that is interested in buying a surf or SUP board is welcome to test it out in the water and see if it'll float them.
We also utilize a selling system from a book called "Retail Selling Made Easy" by Ron Martin. We give all new employees a 134 question paid test and they need to make an 80% or better to be hired. Ron comes every other month to our monthly meetings for sales rallies to go over key points and questions. Ron's system is a proactive no pressure selling system. It's giving customers sufficient information to make an intelligent buying decision be it yes or no. Our employees also have incentives to sell; one is bonuses according to sales goals we set monthly. Doesn't matter what you have in your store if your staff doesn't have the knowledge or have the sensitivity to sell it.
Do you have an online storefront (e-commerce)?
We do have an online store for Surf N Sea brand items.
What percentage of your inventory is dedicated to…
Hardgoods – about 100 surfboards/SUP (new and used) 11%
Skate, Dive equipment Spear guns, Ukuleles, GoPros. 5%
Men's Apparel 27%
Women's/Juniors Apparel 15%
Have they changed within the past year? If so, how?
We sell a lot of T-shirts, our #1 seller is our Surf X-ing Trade mark design and now we have our 50th Anniversary limited edition that is doing really well for us. Surf board sales have slowed down a bit. Industry has changed a lot over the years. Boards are made to last, a lot of new technology and trends has come along.
Do you operate a private label brand? If so, are your private label sales a significant percentage of your business?
We have our Trade mark SurfNSea brand. Our most popular logo is the Surfer X-ing we've done a lot of accessories like water bottles, hats, stickers, slippers, key chains. It's our best seller in tees by far.
Are there any trends in equipment, style, or fashion that are unique to your region?
We carry a brand of custom Ukuleles made by the owner Joe Green called Haleiwa Ukuleles. They are hand carved and are as much works of art as instruments. Check out his website if you get a chance.
What has been your best selling brand over the past 6 months?
We have a collaboration with Hurley called )(aleiwa Hurley, it's been a best seller in Tees. We also do hats, sweat shirts and tanks for Men's, Women's, and Kids. We also did a limited edition Nalu Hawaiian Spirit 50th anniversary Tee that we just can't keep in stock it sells so well. Our Surf N Sea brand does very well for us. A lot of our customers are coming in our store looking for things they can't get back home. They want something to remind them of their vacation, and also to rep Hawaii's oldest Surf and Dive shop.
How do you connect with the local community?
We do a lot of donations for community events and fund raisers, sporting events like North Shore Swim series, and school fundraisers.
We sponsor surf contests like the Haleiwa Menehune surf contest, The Haleiwa International, and the Women's Pipe Pro.
How do you want the public to view your shop?
Definitely want to be known for our friendly staff and good customer service.
What do you look for when hiring a floor employee?
We look for nice people, and make them into great sales people. Knowledge and skills can be taught, but sensitivity and genuine kindness is much harder to develop.
Does your clientele/number of customers change seasonally?
North Shore has good diving during the summer months and big surf in the winter so we stay busy year around. We've been able to keep track of when our busier months are and when we get a bit steadier. This helps us set goals and anticipate our customers need.
To learn more visit Surf N Sea’s website