San Diego Retail Tour: South Coast Wahine

South Coast Wahine
Pacific Beach, California

Originally known as “Pickering’s Pleasure Pier,” the Crystal Pier was opened to the public in 1927 in hopes of encouraging investors to purchase residential and business property near the ocean in Pacific Beach.

Good call.

Today the pier, with its “Sleep Over The Water” hotel, still draws tourists by the thousands and garners write-ups in magazines such as Sunset and Travel & Leisure.

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South Coast Wahine, located just outside the entrance to the pier, is situated perfectly to capture these visiting throngs and has successfully dialed in on the stellar growth of the women’s market. The shop, which is part of the four-store South Coast chain, has been in business for two years and carries a wide selection of juniors’ brands from Roxy, Billabong, Rusty, Hurley, Volcom, O’Neill, Rip Curl, South Coast, Lucy Love, Dawls, Aaron Chang, Jamaican Style, XOXO, Stüssy, Sugar, Lost, Sister, Counter Culture, Fox, and Toes On The Nose.

Pacific Beach features some of the fiercest surf-shop competition anywhere, and South Coast Wahine is surrounded by quality shops — including the South Coast Windansea store less than a quarter mile away. So how does it survive? On top of its great location, South Coast Wahine is without a doubt the most creditable women’s shop in the area.

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Like many women-specific stores, South Coast Wahine’s strongest brand is Roxy, and the shop prominently features both the brand’s apparel and accessories. But Rusty Girls is a close second. According to Manager Tiffany Keyser, the Roxy line has aged slightly. “It’s not so girlie,” she says. “I think they’re trying to keep up with some of the more fashion-forward brands. They are getting into basics, and their fit seems to be better.” Nevertheless, Keyser says Roxy and Rusty still appeal to the younger girls and moms, while “Hurley and Volcom appeal to the more skate girls in high school.” The South Coast Wahine private-label apparel also sells well — as does the movie Peaches, women’s surf photos, and Surfing Girl magazine.

Keyser says footwear is a strong category within the store, led by Gallaz and Etnies. With the colder-than-normal spring, weak categories include sandals and swimwear — a trend common throughout the county.

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Although the shop’s customers are mostly tourists and some local shoppers, there’s a well-merchandised wetsuit section in the back of the store with mostly Rip Curl suits featured. Shoppers looking for boards are sent to South Coast Windansea.

Window Brands: Roxy, Rusty, Hurley, Volcom
Major Display Brands: Roxy, Rusty, Hurley, Volcom, Billabong, Rip Curl, O’Neill
Strongest Category: Girls’ apparel
Weakest Category: Sandals
Bests Reps: Yvon (Billabong), Katie (Roxy), Trish (Roxy Accessories)
Hottest Brands: Roxy, Rusty, Billabong Girls, Hurley, Volcom

Shop Location