While many shops folded under competitive pressure again this year, a few brave souls threw their hats into the ring. We reached out to brands and reps to see who made the strongest push in 2011 and the answer was resoundingly for Montclair, California’s Kings Boardshop. We caught up with Brian Oh to learn more about the shop and its game plan.
Tell us a little about your shop’s history.
I've been working in retail clothing for six years. Being inspired by the brands that I personally wear, I decided to open up Kings to build that culture. We opened our doors December 2010.
Why did you guys decide to open a core skate/snow shop during the current economy?
Although it's very challenging for us too, we think there is more of an opportunity in this economy because the lease can be cheaper, which is the main overhead expense with retail. With that money we can offer more products to our customers. Apart from that, regardless of any economy, you'll still deal with the same issues.
What brands do you carry, and who are your customers?
We carry Heel Bruise, Stussy, Obey, Huf, Diamond, Deluxe, NikeSB, The Hundreds, Adidas, Emerica, and more. We're located in Montclair, which is a very small city, but central in regards to the Inland Empire. Our local customers come from Diamond Bar, Pomona, Rancho Cucamonga, Chino, and surrounding cities. We also frequently get customers daily that hear about our store via "word of mouth" from even the greater Los Angeles area.
What's the most rewarding thing about working with your brands and customers?
We like the opportunity of building relationships with our customers, understanding what they're looking for, and providing that service and product for them.
What's your philosophy on the role of core retailers?
Work hard at building personal relationships with your customers and stay current in regards to what the customers want.
What makes your shop different?
Again, we work really hard at customer service. Besides that, maybe our layout and the variety of brands we carry. We try to give them a full line of a brand's offering every season.
Why do you think your brands nominated you for this award?
We pay our bills? I don't know. It's a shocker. We're very thankful our reps are stoked on us.
What have been the biggest highlights and lowlights of 2011?
Highlights: this moment, and Lowlights: like everyone else, paying bills each month.
This year was tough for core retailers. What have been the keys to your success in getting things rolling during these tough times?
We try to promo things out as much as we can. We try to find the balance of promoting price point items and full price items, having our customer's pocket book in mind. Obviously the goal would be to keystone everything, but sometimes you just can't.
What are your predictions for 2012?
We think 2012 will be another tough year. We're trying to prepare for it by opening up an online store which can hopefully absorb some of the impact.
Anything else you'd like to add?
The beginning of February we're planning on opening up a store in Azusa called Bruisers with the brand, Heel Bruise, which will be Heel Bruise's perspective on clothing & skateboarding, and will be carrying NikeSB, Stussy, Undftd, Cons, and more. We've been with working Richard in bringing the best retail experience for the city and the entire San Gabriel Valley. Grand opening will be Friday, February 4th, 2012.