O’Neill Surf Shop (41st Street)

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O'Neill Surf Shop (41st Street), CWC Retail Tour, Santa Cruz

O’Neill Surf Shop on 41st Avenue is clearly the one-stop shop for the hardcore surfer on the East Side. Whatever you need, O’Neill will likely have it.

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From the biggest brands in surfboards, to wetsuits (well, actually, just O’Neill), to footwear, to clothes, to eyewear — all the way down to wax — O’Neill has it all. It’s crazy in there — so much product jammed into not a lot of space. And it gets packed with shoppers — especially on the weekends, and especially during sales (that’s when we rolled in).

You step through the doors of the dark brick-facade building (it used to be a bank) and racks and shelves upon shelves of clothing jump out at you. Manager Elfin Saffer admits that the store is stuffed (nearly overflowing) with product, but that’s because O’Neill just wants to offer the best variety to its customers. And for good reason: Elfin says people come into the shop with full wallets and leave with lighter ones (especially compared to O’Neill’s sister shop in downtown Santa Cruz, which is more like a showroom in comparison).

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But a strong staff keeps it all under control, says Saffer, who’s been in surf retail in Santa Cruz for more than a decade. The shop’s like a fine-oiled machine with an army handling the registers, a crew overseeing the large watch and sunglasses counter, a couple more manning the wetsuits and fitting rooms, and even more walking the floor, answering questions about color, sizes, and surfboards (fortunately no one was wearing those annoying Britney Spears headsets like they do at Old Navy).

Right now, wetsuits are the hot ticket at O’Neill’s, followed closely by snowboarding product (hardgoods and outerwear). Relative to wetsuit sales, Saffer says apparel is actually weak during this time of the year (although apparel contributes the most to the shop’s bottom line). The hottest brands are Hurley, Volcom, and Billabong. Oh yeah, O’Neill sportswear also does well (good answer, Elfin). Saffer calls out James (Black Flys), Skin (Volcom), and Tim Finley (Billabong) as the best reps in the area.

**** Just The Facts Ma’am ****

Strongest Category: Wetsuits, Snowboard product (winter)

Bests Rep(s): James (Black Flys), Skin (Volcom), and Tim Finley (Billabong)

Hottest Brand(s): Hurley, Volcom, Billabong

On A Scale Of 1 to 10, Rate:

Health of the surf sales: 8

Health of girls sales: 8.5

Health of men’s apparel sales: 8.5

Health of wetsuit sales: 9.5

Health of footwear sales: 8.5

Health of surfboard sales: 5 (better in the summer)