O’Neill Surf Shop (Downtown Santa Cruz)

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O'Neill Surf Shop, CWC Retail Tour, Santa Cruz

The owners of Pacific Wave weren’t exactly stoked five months ago when O’Neill opened its latest surf shop in Santa Cruz. The new shop — situated directly across the street Pacific Wave, a downtown mainstay — threatened to nab business from the busy shop.

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But O’Neill Downtown Manager Shylo Steinthal says the two shops have diversified their offering, avoiding brand saturation and giving the two shops a distinct flavor. For example, O’Neill knew it shouldn’t (couldn’t?) carry Volcom or Hurley because Pacific Wave was already deep in the two growing brands (O’Neill’s 41st Street shops carries them, though). They didn’t want to butt heads or have too much of the same product in such close proximity. Steinthal says he refers customers to Pacific Wave all the time, and vice versa — it’s not uncommon for shoppers to leave the downtown intersection with bags full of gear from both shops.

Compared to its main store on the East Side, the downtown store is tourist-oriented. Displays are cleaner and less cluttered — more corporate and almost sterile, if you will. But the shop is tight, and the tourists aren’t just there to absorb the surf vibe — they’re there to buy.

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Steinthal says that wetsuits is the strongest category in the shop, followed by snowboard hardgoods and softgoods in the winter. If there’s any product that’s not checking it’s rashguards, but that’s just because O’Neill’s wetsuits are so good, quips Steinthal.

O’Neill is the hottest brand in the shop (duh), but Quiksilver is also strong. Those two brands, along with Billabong, Rusty, and Planet Earth, are the major display brands inside. The big windows that line the outside of the shop are clutter-free (imagine a Wahoo’s Fish Tacos window and think the opposite).

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While apparel contributes most to the shop’s bottom line, wetsuits and accessories also go large. Steinthal gives props to Marcell (Electric and Dakine) and Jason (Rusty) as the best reps.

**** Just The Facts Ma’am ****

Window Brands: O’Neill

Major Display Brands: O’Neill, Quiksilver, Billabong, Rusty, Planet Earth.

Strongest Category: Wetsuits.

Weakest Category: Rashguards.

Bests Rep(s): Marcell (Electric/Dakine), Jason (Rusty).

Hottest Brand(s): O’Neill, Quiksilver

Critical Issues Facing The Surf Industry: Consolidation. “Too many large corporations buying out smaller companies; merging businesses and moving operations offshore.”

On A Scale Of 1 to 10, Rate:

Health of the surf sales: 8.5

Health of girls sales: 9

Health of men’s apparel sales: 10

Health of wetsuit sales: 9

Health of footwear sales: 8

Health of surfboard sales: 6