If Orange County is the center of the surf industry, then the corner of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach might be its bull’s eye. And, as any WCT surfer will gladly attest, it’s not the surf that gives this 50-yard stretch of real estate its claim to fame. No, what makes this corner so important is its surf shops.
Huntington Surf And Sport and Jack’s Surfboards fly so far above the competition when it comes to wielding influence in the surf market that only their contrails are visible to competitors below. To steal a phrase, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere — at least in the surf industry.
But it wasn’t slick merchandising or cutting-edge retail theory that sent Jack’s up to the Velcro stratosphere. Ron Jon Surf Shop or even cross-street rival Huntington Surf And Sport serve up far more eye candy for shoppers. What’s set Jack’s apart is the sheer volume of product and depth of lines found in the 8,500-square-foot primary location. “Jack’s has always been a showcase for a lot of companies,” says Bobbie Abdelfattah, general retail buyer and co-owner. “We represent a line from A to Z. You can go to any brand and see we carry the T-shirts, the trunks, the walking shorts, the wovens, the jackets, and everything else they make. That’s made a big difference.”
[IMAGE 2] That was one of the reasons the shop opened Jack’s Girls, a separate location devote to girls’ lines. “We weren’t able to represent the juniors’ lines in a good way within the men’s shop,” says Abdelfattah. “To be fair, and to give the girls’ clothing the look it deserved, we had to open a new shop where we could make a good presentation of the lines.”
This depth of product is important to Abdelfattah: ‘There are brands we refuse to carry because we don’t have the room to represent them in a good way. And I don’t like to carry just the shorts, T-shirts, or trunks from a line and say I’m carrying the line.”
But looking around the shop, it’s difficult to spot a brand that’s not represented at Jack’s. The majors — Quiksilver, Billabong, Rip Curl, Volcom, Hurley, O’Neill, and others — dominate the main sales floor, but Jack’s has a display rack for just about all the brands.
In the past year Jack’s has also expanded its shoe department — although it remain surprisingly small for a shop of Jack’s volume. But maybe that’s the point: stretch the sales volume of each square foot of the store to its logical limit. On a typical summer day, Jack’s hums with the sounds of commerce, and employees are kept hopping.
The day of our visit was no exception, and manager Akira Fukuda was running double-time with the frenetic pace. “Right now one of strongest categories is boards,” he says. “We’ve been selling about 40 a week. Contest T-shirts for the U.S. Open being held just across the street are also strong.” Fukuda would say more, but the line at the counter is backing up and a co-worker whispers to him that a few pairs of Von Zipper sunglasses have mysteriously showed up near a dressing room, so he dashes off with a smile. It’s just another summer’s day at Jack’s, and you better hustle if you want to keep up.
Window Brands: O’Neill, Quiksilver, BillabongMajor Display Brands: All the majors and most of the second-tier brands.Strongest Category: Surfboards, contest T-shirtsWeakest Category: n/aStrongest Brands: Quiksilver, Volcom, Billabong, Hurley, O’Neill, Rip CurlBest Reps: “Everyone is doing great and helps us out,” says Fukuda.