What brands are you excited about?
HUF is doing some really cool things right now; Instance is always killing it for socks, and they are an easy sell. Also, anything that is a little bit different with some new flavour on it, like Polar. Anything with a bit of a different twist seems to be getting attention.
Where are you seeing growth?
We are seeing a lot of smaller skate brands do really well, brands like Chance and Welcome. The guys with alternative shapes are also getting traction; cruiser-type boards with old-school shapes are killing it. We find a lot of people will own a few boards now… maybe one shred board and a couple cruisers—fun boards.
How do you make the decision to pick up a new brand?
It’s either from a customer wearing something or asking for something, or a trusted rep suggesting something new.
What works best to get things out the door?
It’s a combination of using social media to inform our customers properly, and then having knowledgeable staff that can help you out when you get in the store.
“In the urban areas we are seeing more and more brands open their own stores. I think this is a big challenge, because it puts us in direct completion with our supplier. It’s a conflict of interest.”
Does your store have a customer database?
Yes, we do. We send our customers info on sales, new brands and things happening around the store. We also keep an internal database for things like warranties and records.
What are some of your bigger challenges?
Common sense isn’t so common anymore, and good staff are hard to come by. It can be a challenge motivating younger staff.
What are your big-picture concerns with our industry in Canada?
In the urban areas we are seeing more and more brands open their own stores. I think this is a big challenge, because it puts us in direct completion with our supplier. It’s a conflict of interest. Also, being a smaller store, it’s hard for us to stay current and compete with massive retailers blowing out product on sale or through online closeouts. You really need to differentiate yourself from these big stores.