By Casey Macker
According to Aloha 2/Vertical Urge Board Shop Manager Brent Adams in Raleigh, North Carolina, clothing lines from newer companies such as Volcom and Ezekiel have had the most substantial impact on sales over the last two years: “These companies are gaining popularity around here due to their association with a wider range of board sports.” Furthermore, Adams notes that surf clothing in general has been steadily gaining popularity, and the demand for hardgoods in particular has gone up.
“Wetsuits by manufacturers such as Billabong and Rip Curl have been consistently gaining momentum over the last few seasons,” adds Adams.
Down the coast in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Wallerbears Surf and Sport Manager Jamie Bessinger has been helping facilitate Wallerbears’ expansion into new locations. In the last six months alone, Wallerbears has opened three new shops in the region. Bessinger says the new shops will be accommodating the increasing demand for both women’s surf clothing and juniors lines from companies such as Rusty, Quiksilver, and Billabong. The shops will also be carrying local lines such as WRV and Surf The Earth. Aside from expanding to new locations, Bessinger says that their Myrtle Beach shop has seen a steady increase in board sales¿a trend she hopes will carry over into the new locations.
In Tybee Island, Georgia, High Tide Surf Shop Owner Tim Malins says he has also had big success with both the women’s and juniors’ lines. “The demand for these lines has actually doubled our business in the last few years,” says Malins. As a result, he has dedicated an entire floor to nothing but women’s lines.
High Tide Surf Shop has also seen sales rise in longboards and other equipment directly related with surfing. Furthermore, he has begun to do more service and maintenance in the areas of ding repair and removable fin systems. Malins is finding that people who had previously purchased their boards with glassed-on fins now want to have the removable fins installed. Although he gets most of his business from locals, Malins also feels he should acknowledge an expanding local tourist economy and the local colleges for recent growth in his business.
Edna Robles, owner of Surf Line Surf Shop in Puerto Rico, also believes in maintaining a diverse shop mix. She says that over the last few years it has become increasingly important to keep a close eye on trends in both the community and the industry. She has found that lines such as Local Motion, World Jungle, and Counter Culture are most critical to business. Furthermore, clothing companies that use prints of photos in their designs, such as Aaron Chang and local company Frente Frio, are also making major contributions to shop sales. People are investing in surf clothing, not only for image, but also for the quality from the major manufacturers.
“People are willing to pay the extra dollar for clothing that will last,” says Robles.
Lokomalik in Cidra, Puerto Rico has been in business for two and a half years. Owner José Melendez Martinez, owner of the shop, informs us that the whole surfing image has taken off. Commercials in Puerto Rico, Martinez says, are showing a lot of surf influence: “Even Ford has a commercial with surfing in it.” He adds that the surfing image is becoming increasingly popular, and it has resulted in high clothing sales.
Martinez explains he’s doing well selling all the major brands. He points out that surf clothing is becoming increasingly popular with the rap music industry in Puerto Rico: “Rappers are dressing like surfers.” Clothing sales have been so positive for Martinez that he has opened up another store.
Jan Benegas, manager of Playero in San Juan, Puerto Rico, confirms the fashion craze. “The majority of sales are in clothing,” he says, adding that apparel sales increase with tourism as well. Currently, tthey are in the slow season¿board sales are low, but clothing sales are staying strong.