Sun Diego Twin Inn Carlsbad
President/CEO & VP Operations/Marketing: Dave Nash and Pete Censoplano
Date Opened: May 2014
Square Footage: 7,400
Location: 2978 Carlsbad Blvd #
Sun Diego held a grand opening for its new shop in downtown Carlsbad, California, earlier this year and has since been gaining momentum inside the unique space. The entire main floor of the building, which is shared between the retailer and The Land and Water Co., is approximately 11,000 square feet, with approximately 7,400 square feet dedicated to Sun Diego product.
“We've always loved the building and thought it would make an incredible surf shop,” says VP Operations/Marketing Pete Censoplano. “It's basically the center piece of downtown Carlsbad.”
We caught up with Censoplano to hear the history behind the building, what’s been moving at retail level, and what sets the space apart from the rest.
How has the new shop been received by the community?
We have been well received from the majority of the community. There was and is some disappointment from certain individuals in Carlsbad Village who felt the building should have continued to be used as a restaurant or night club and not a surf shop.
Who is your typical customer at the Carlsbad location?
Individuals of all ages come into the building whether it's to shop or to see what's inside…after that it's up to us to capture their interest and hopefully their business with our product, displays, knowledge and service.
What categories are performing well for you at this location?
Shoe sales have been tough but overall the men's business has been good and the women's business great. Having the hottest/sunniest summer in many years certainly didn't hurt our sandal, bikini, and boardshort business!
What are your thoughts on the future of the industry and market overall?
The future is looking pretty bright with the big boys making better product and not worrying as much about price as they have been and concentrating on better product and technology…not to mention all the new and exciting brands that have entered the market!
Why is the space called “Twin Inn”?
It's called the "Twin Inn" as there was an exact building on the corner across the street for many years, which has since been demolished. The building was built in 1887 and it was the home to the founder of Carlsbad Gerhard Schutte. We have the master lease for the main floor of the building and we sub-lease a portion to a sushi restaurant called The Land and Water Co., which was named after Gerhard Shutte's development company. There is a door in the foyer that opens into the restaurant. We felt that there would be synergy between both businesses and we would benefit from each other's clientele.
It sounds like there is a lot of history behind the building. Any interesting stories you can share?
There is a ton of history in the building. There is a room in the basement that was used as a "speak easy" in the 20s and a "brothel" as well. There was a trap door behind the bar that was allegedly used by patrons of the restaurant for quick visits with prostitutes down in the basement while their wives would be eating dinner up above. The basement was also used as a slaughter house for chickens as the building was a chicken restaurant for many years. John Wayne would frequent the restaurant back in the day and would sit in a specific room which was dubbed the "Duke Room." The building has been rumored to be haunted by an old woman and little girl, but we have yet to see them.
Did you update the space or just move into it as it was?
The remodeling of the building was extremely trying to say the least. As we got into the process we had to hire a sprinkler system engineer and ended up having to re-do the entire sprinkler system. Because of the additional weight to the ceiling from this, we had to hire a building engineer. We were then told by the engineer that regardless of the new sprinkler system the large round pavilion area of the building would have to be completely rebuilt and would be quite costly. He wasn't sure how the building was still standing because his calculations showed that the roof structure was stressed 200% past it's capacity. We went to the owners of the building and asked for their help and thankfully they came through for us. We ended up having to jack up the ceiling 6-10 inches to allow us to completely reinforce the entire support structure. It pushed our opening back 3 months.
We went with a "Turn of the Century Industrial/Craftsman" theme and again hired DisplayIt, Inc. to help us, which they did superbly. They created a good portion of the build-outs throughout the store. A private collector was very generous in letting us use vintage surfboards from his personal collection and the California Surf Museum in Oceanside allowed us to use some of their old surf photos for decorations.
What sets this store apart from others in the area, besides the historical meaning it holds?
One of the most distinctive features of the store is a 15' wide by 5' high video wall, which was a sharp contrast to the "turn of the Century Industrial/Craftsman" look, but we were pretty adamant about adding the video wall because we wanted something visually captivating for our customers. We teamed up with James Ravenal from Grandview Media to not only put the wall together, but to gather video content from our vendors to display for our customers. They take the video content and reformat it so it plays simultaneously on all 6 video screens to look like one large TV. They use the 6 high definition monitors as individual screens as well bringing a really unique video experince to the store. The video wall is also used to stream live video content such as ASP surf events and our own Am Slam Surf/Skate events, etc.