Retail Profiles: Costa Mesa, California’s Surfside Sports

Co-Owners Paul Burnett and Duke Edukas with their trusty shop dog Rocky.

More than fifteen years after opening the doors to an 8,000 square-foot store in Newport Beach, California, Surfside Sports owners Duke Edukas and Paul Burnett had the rug pulled out from underneath them. In 2006 the duo's longtime landlord put the property on the market, an investment group outbid them for the building, and then doubled their rent. To say the veteran retailers were dealt a hand of adversity is an understatement, but rather than throw in their chips they came up with a new strategy and rolled the dice.

Less than two years later, Surfside Sports now occupies a 17,000 square-foot space on 17th Street in Costa Mesa, just two miles from the original location. They've evolved from a small, beachfront shop with sand on the floor to a polished, well-merchandised action sports destination. Last April, the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association (SIMA) recognized Edukas and Burnett for their accomplishments, naming Surfside Sports Breakthrough Retailer of the Year.

The shop is polished, well-merched, and well-staffed…but it still feels like a shop. You feel at home when you walk in. Someone will always greet you, even if it’s Rocky, the shop dog! There’s no vibey, too cool scenester stink-eying you as you saunter around the floor, rather engaging sales associates who genuinely want to help you find what you’re looking for. If you find yourself in Costa Mesa, stop by Surfside, say hi to Duke and the crew, and make sure to check out Rocky’s shirt--Spides and the guys from Atwater supply Rocky with Alpo in return for him wearing their T-shirts in the store! Talk about guerrilla marketing!

233 East 17th Street,
Costa Mesa, California

How long has the store been around?
Surfside was established in 1977 by Bill and Kathy French.  We purchased it in 1992.  We had another store called  “Duke Surfshop” five years prior to that, and closed it shortly after purchasing Surfside from Kathy French.

What percentage of your business is online vs. brick and mortar?

The majority of our sales are done in the Brick and Mortar.

What are your top three most profitable product categories?
Men’s, Women’s, and Kid’s clothing, Men’s, Women’s, and  Kids Sandals, Shoes.

What are your top three best selling brands overall?
I need to name more than 3, because our store does a huge amount of Snowboard Business, so, here it goes: Volcom, Burton, Quiksilver, Rvca, Hurley, Billabong, and Libtech, not necessarily in that order.

Who are your top three reps that service your store?
I’m not touching that one with a ten-foot pole!  All of our Reps are good, some are better than others, and they know who they are..

What's the single best-selling brand over the past six months?

Can you describe the local market over the past six months?
Challenging, to say the least. The “highs, and lows” make it feel like we’re riding a roller-coaster sometimes, exciting and scary at the same time.

What store(s) is/ is your closest competition in the area?
We have 3 Jack’s, 2-3 Actives, 2 Sport Chalet’s, Huntington Surf and Sport, Becker, a core shop named the Frog House, 10-15 manufacturers some of which have company stores, and some who have “warehouse sales” three times a year, Fashion Island, and a little place called South Coast Plaza, all within 5 square miles of us. What doesn’t kill you only make’s you stronger!

What do you see, in a macro sense, as far as the retail landscape?

I’m always super optimistic, but, I really feel like people are starting to get used to all the “doom and gloom” being portrayed by the media.  People just want to get on with their lives.  It kind of reminds me of the tragic time of 9/11, but, it’s taking a little longer for people to get adjusted to it.

Are you altering the way you buy for 09? If so, how?
Just watching everything very closely, and adjusting and reacting as necessary, but, here’s my take:  If we’re experiencing 15 % un-employment in our area, that still means that 85% of people still have jobs.  I want those people to come into Surfside and literally be “blown away” by our product offering, customer service, and expertise in all the sports that we deal with.  I really think that there’s an opportunity in this down economy to grow, maybe not right away, but in the very near future. A lot of retailers are scaling back, and under-inventorying their stores, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be over-inventoried, that scare’s the crap out of me, but, I truly think there’s something to be said about having the items the remaining 85% of our customer’s who still are employed desire.