Great Lakes Report

At Chapter Eleven Sports in Spring Lake, Michigan, Owner Ned Silverman differentiates his store by looking for small clothing companies. There’s a large chain store nearby that carries all the major lines he avoids. “They have to follow a trend where we don’t,” says Silverman.

He says his shop started in the surf business with surfboards and not clothes–opposite from how most stores in the area have begun. Not only was it important to the shop, but it was important to the surf community. “If we weren’t here, they the community wouldn’t know surf legitimacy,” says Silverman

Half of his ordering is done in-store where he’ll listen to “whoever any rep can make me laugh.” The other half of his ordering is done at shows such as MAGIC and Surf Expo trips that he makes into family vacations.

At Windward Sports in Chicago, Illinois, Manager Lisa Gibson says they’re not really looking to add any lines because the shop already carrys major brands such as Billabong, Quiksilver, O’Neill, Hawaiian Island Creations, Rip Curl, Redsand, and MCD. Windward does a lot of business in categories such as women’s bathing suits and 98 percent of line orders happen at the ASR and Surf Expo shows. On the other hand, being in Chicago they don’t sell very many boards and wetsuits, so they do the ordering for those in-store.

Matt Mulligan, manager of Brick Wheels in Traverse City, Michigan, says the shop would like to bring Volcom in to join its current lines of Rusty, Counter Culture, and Split. ASR is a big show for the store, but the managers also attend Surf Expo and the Michigan Retailer Association shows, which throw surf and ski together. Although he checks out these shows, Mulligan feels that about 60 percent of his ordering is done in-store.

At Southport Rigging in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Manager Patrick Hintz says he’s not looking for any new brands and has even consolidated from last year. The shop wanted to add a couple more popular brands to the current lines of Quiksilver, Rusty, Redsand, and Volcom, however, the order requirements were more than they wanted to spend. Southport Rigging does about half the clothing ordering in-store and most of the other half at Surf Expo. Board orders at the shop are customs, due to the more consistent surf breaks being on the other side of Lake Michigan.

Owner J.V. Peacock of Outpost in Mishawaka, Indiana is considering bringing in Volcom and Hurley in addition to the current lines of Quiksilver, Rusty, and Mossimo. Although the Outpost is 45 minutes from Lake Michigan surfing, there are three other retailers near the store.

Peacock says half his ordering is done in-store while the other half is done at various trade shows including Surf Expo.