Supporting The Backbone Of Our Industry – Josh Bernard Transworld Business
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Surf Ride’s CEO Josh Bernard weighs in on surfing’s brands, core retailers and other important topics. “Still Core Since, ’74”.
I think that supporting core retailers is one of the most important topics that the brands need to recognize, and I feel it is the most overlooked topic by the big ones. The core surf shop is the backbone of the industry and seeing more of them in the future is a dwindling reality. With the big brands supporting retail outlets such as Costco, Macy’s, and other mall shops, it’s harder and harder for the little guys to survive. I think that one of my biggest complaints is how companies try to mend the problem by offering “core shop”-specific products. It’s great in concept, but not so great in execution.
The first big problem is that they offer us a little “core” line to buy from, load us up on good looking gear, then go and advertise in every magazine, webpage, and webcast all the stuff they sell at departments stores. It’s good that they are getting their name and the product out there and getting people stoked on it. What’s not good however is that every kid this side of the Mississippi, and the other side for that matter, can walk into a mall and go find the stuff at their local department store, rendering no return for the local core shop, but big return for the brands’ share holders. I understand why this happens, but I don’t agree with it. Allocate some money in your multimillion-dollar marketing budget to advertise and help out the core retailers that are associating your brand with surfboards and wetsuits.
The second big problem of the “core” retail division that needs to be reworked a little bit is the definition of what a core shop really is, and which shops make the cut. In my opinion, you need to have more than 10 surfboards and 25 wetsuits in your store to be core, and that’s being generous. When you allocate more of your budget for low-margin hardgoods than you do for clothing, that to me shows you’re dedicated to the sport and lifestyle we all love and enjoy. The big brands should be giving incentives to these not-so-core shops to start being more core. Malls aren’t core.
I want to end this by saying the big brands are very good about helping us out in a million different ways, and for the most part I am very happy to be associated with them and thankful for what they do to help with taking product back and other various in-store programs they participate in. I think that if they can just focus a little more on advertising to support the core shops they would see a positive return and we would all benefit!
I also want to answer one of the most common questions I get from some of the big brands, and that is, “How can we get the kids on the floor stoked on the product and get more people in our suits, on our boards, and using our accessories?”
It’s really a simple answer: Hook the kids up, educate them on the product, and visit the guys on the floor. The brands should really cut back on trade-show displays and put more emphasis on getting the guys that are actually selling the product to the consumer stoked on the gear. If all the guys on my sales floor got a free wetsuit, a mini clinic, and a high five from a brand’s sales rep, that brand’s suit would be the number one selling suit of the season. That goes for boards, traction, leashes, and really anything in the store. The brands need to realize this is their least expensive advertising with the highest return. Don’t make your reps struggle to pay for promo suits for shop guys-either up their promo budget, or step up and send some suits over to the shop.
Josh Bernard, CEO, Surf Ride Surf Shops