Location: 233 E 17th St, Costa Mesa, Calif.
Owners.: Paul Burnett, Duke Edukas
Number of storefronts: 1
Square footage: 17,000
The story of Surfside Sports starts back in 1991. Co-owners Paul Burnett and Duke Edukas had an 8,000 square-foot shop by Blackies in Newport Beach, and the shop was doing well until the retailer lost its least in 2006. Instead of letting that get them down, the two business owners decided to look elsewhere and were able to open up a new storefront less than two miles down the street in Costa Mesa.
The shop’s current location on 17th Street has become home for the loyal following Surfside has built over the years. The surrounding region is also where Burnett and Edukas were born and raised, with Paul hailing from Manhattan Beach and Duke growing up immersed in the surf industry alongside another successful shop owner, Aaron Pai of HSS.
“We cater to the locals and have been a part of the community for over 30 years,” says Edukas. “Many of the present executives in the industry grew up in our store.”
Steadily building its reputation into a household name, Surfside continues to gain momentum by keeping an open mind to new, emerging brands in the industry while still supporting many of the heritage brands that helped the shop get its start more than three decades ago. We caught up with Edukas to gain some perspective on where he sees the shop’s future headed, and his overall thoughts on the health of the industry.
Here’s some recent photos from Surfside Sports:
What were you up to before opening Surfside?
Paul was self employed in another business, and Duke was a landscape contractor.
How would you describe your shop? What makes it unique? What do you think you're best known for?
A large modern surf shop catering to the local community in the heart of the surf industry. I hope we're known for quality customer service, and representing all the major brands in the industry, as well as really getting behind and supporting select emerging brands. We're also known for having the most extensive snow selection in the area with a crew second to none.
How many employees do you generally have at one time?
Anywhere from 12-25 depending on the time of year. Total employee count 40-45
How do you recruit, train, and retain good employees?
We take several applications on a regular basis. My son Joe, and Ruda Lopez, our head manager are in charge of the hiring process. We look for people who are passionate, and have a good availability for the store's needs at the given time. The new employees are then mentored and trained by our store managers. We retain them with a quality work environment, and a wage to match their abilities over time.
What have been some key milestones in the shop's history since you opened?
Overcoming a 2-year lease when first starting the shop, Being successful despite having strong competition with two long-standing and quality surf shops very close to our original location (Jack's and Newport Surf and Sport), The death of a partner, The tragic events of 9/11, Moving to our present location and it proving to be successful, and the difficulty of over coming several year's without quality snowfall in California. Other milestones include: Being one of the first surf shops to embrace snowboarding in the early 90s. Taking the risk of being one of the first, or the first shops to bring in Volcom, Von Zipper, RVCA, Hurley, Brixton, Stance, Go Pro, TOMS, and VISSLA.
Do you have an online storefront (e-commerce)?
No. We used to, but couldn't compete with the likes of Amazon so we got out of it. One of the best decisions we have ever made. In the beginning, selling online was like taking candy from a baby. In it's final years our online business was bleeding us dry…
Do you operate a private label brand?
Yes, but mostly Surfside tees and hats. It is a small percentage of our total business.
Describe your typical customer.
We have a very broad spectrum of customers from all walks of life and all ages. Most, but not all participate in Surfing, Skating, or Snowboarding
Discuss your current product mix. How is it influenced by your region?
Typical product mix for So. Cal., with the exception of snow related goods.
What percentage of your inventory is dedicated to...
Boys and Girls
What brands have you carried the longest?
Quiksilver, Billabong, Volcom, Rainbow sandals, and Burton.
What are currently your three most profitable product categories?
Mens Apparel, Boys Apparel, and accessories.
What has been your best selling brand over the past 6 months?
Volcom in every category.
What's your overall impression of the local market over the past year?
Not much has change at the consumer level, but as an industry things are changing dramatically. Turmoil within one of our most valued vendors, and trying to figure out the new landscape of our business in regards to select emerging brands.
What brand(s) has/have stood out as the best overall partner since you've been in business.
Volcom, Hurley, RVCA, Burton, Electric, and Stance. Others who have been, or are being run by different regimes that are still yet to be determined are Billabong, whose new regime seems to be really focusing in on our business, and Quiksilver, whos trials, tribulations, and new leadership is still to be determined.
How have you altered the way you buy over the past few seasons?
Yes. We have been on a "less is more" strategy for the past 18 months. We have come to the realization that not everything from any specific vendor sells equally as well as certain key styles in certain key categories. Don't get me wrong, our store is still well stocked, but merchandised better in things our customer's gravitate to and buy.
Are you altering the way you buy for next year?
No, with the exception of subtle "tweeks" within certain brands.
Are there any profound trends that you're noticing right now in your region? Overall?
Only that our customers will embrace some of the newer brands we have been carrying if we give the brands a fighting chance with well merchandised areas and stocking enough of their product that is relevant.
What are your expectations for your business over the next 6-12 months? 1-3 years?
No crystal ball b.s. from me. I'm in the business of adapting our business every 3 months based upon trends not fads, weather, vendor performance, and customer needs.
Where are you seeing the best margins?
Mens, Jr's, and kids clothing and certain accessories.
What brands are consumers coming in and asking for the most?
RVCA, Volcom, Stance, Brixton, and Vissla in men's clothing. Volcom, Billabong, Rip Curl swim in Jr's . Burton and Lib in snow, Rip Curl and Hurley in Wetsuits.
What new brands are gaining traction for you?
Several, but in particular, VISSLA, Roark, S.P. gadgets, and D’BLANC, and Otis Eyewear.
Name the top three reps that service your store and what makes them special.
None. They are all egotistical primadonas! Actually, I love them all. Some are better than others and they know who they are.
What's one key lesson that you've learned through running this business?
Never take anything for granted. Walk in the other persons shoes before you judge, or, don't judge at all. The only thing that is consistent is change. Have faith in yourself, you don't always have to do what competitors are doing. First priority is family, no matter what your definition of "family " is...
What is your top concern for your business and/or the industry as a whole right now?
None. Things will work their way out if I recognize, identify, and adopt to the changes that are happening. It's an exciting time in our biz just so long as the sun comes out, the waves keep pumping, and we get just a little snow this year before Christmas!
What makes you optimistic about your business and/or the industry right now?
Some of the new emerging brands, and our continued partnership with our existing ones.
What are the standout events that you host or programs that you run for consumers?
Our biggest event of the year is in about a month. Our annual "Snow Carnival"!
Do you expect your business to grow over the next year?
Are you currently considering expanding or opening a second location?
Last specific moment that really made you love your job?
My wife coming up to my office and telling me I did a shitty job cleaning the bathroom!
Do you sponsor a shop team? Who are some of your standouts?
Yes, in all the sports we represent. Standouts- Colin Moran and Parker Ruiz in Surf, and Chandler Hunt in Snowboarding.
Anything else you’d like to add Duke?
Yes. The roles of CEO's, Sales Managers, and product managers are a key component to a healthy partnership. I strongly urge many of them to get out from behind their desks and visit the real world. The best partnerships we have are solidified by frequent visits and fact-finding missions from key executives from within the companies.