(hey gaff i was in yer neighborhood this weekend)....
there is another factor here....surf shops can do what chains can't and/or rarely, if ever, actually do...provide selection. target does not have a range of ANYTHING sports related simply because the rest of the merchandise (kids, and women's and men's seasonal clothes, food, pet stuff, my new hair gel) all require space and sell way more product. even other "sports" chains don't carry more than a few boards or wetsuits or anything surf related. baseball season and football season and old farts needing golf sh!t far outnumber the occasional board or wetsuit sale. let's face it. surfing is a sport that requires investment, but unless you are unreasonably hard on yer equip, you are buying durable goods. the surfshop will continue to provide a wide range of a fairly narrow product unless they are put out of bidness not by chains, but by internet, where a "store" can carry virtually an unlimited stock. finally, as we all know, a lot of "surf' shops don't carry anything but clothes. san diego surf co in seaport village (tourist trap) sells teeshirts and board shorts and $60 sandals.... not a board or wetsuit in sight (...unless you count the inflatable...). if HS&S ( a small chain) has a sale, i am going, even though Katin's is my store of choice up here in the north OC
Wow, I think you all have made some great points. I just think that when a buck is made, somebody is going to be exploited. That is how our system works. It's either gonna be the kid in the sweat shop, the naive consumer, the local shaper who can't keep up with corporate prices, the swimsuit model, hell even the pros themselves. You can't just have a little capitalism. It's all or nothing. It's not fair. They play dirty, always will. Why, because their stocks must go up. They have to keep increasing profits. Its a cannibalistic system. Companies don't care about creating jobs, they care about profits. They don't want unionized workforces because that would mean good pay with good benefits and less profit for shareholders. It doesn't take a genuis to see the attack on unions in this country and what it means. People are making less and paying more than they did ten years ago and we are supposed to be grateful because someday...somehow, we could be the billionaires exploiting everybody else. So we won't restrict their greed because we might get there someday. You should be glad you have a job making minimum wage and don't live off the system except the system is starting to make honest work look bad because no one is willing to pay a decent wage. It's a Lottery mentality that says, I might be one of those rich guys, so what ever they do is ok, that is until they lay you off and you have to sell your surfboards and go to work at labor ready. Then maybe you realize they were playing you, making their friends rich and selling you down the river...this flat spell is driving me crazy!
i remember seeing boards from rusty, tim nolte, nev, byrne, channel islands, & spectrum. all californian or australian companies. but i think it has always been that way, at least once the surf industry marketing machine took over in the late 70's or early 80's. i think the east coast suffers still from it's former "red-headed step child" status. in the 60's we had to learn how to build our own boards b/c no one would ship boards out here, or it was too expensive to do so. that's how dan heritage got his start. but then when the first surf shops opened & people started reading surf mags, they wanted hobies, webers, velzys, & jacobs...not a board from some guy they KNEW had taken too much acid & nearly burned down the shaping shed when the resin kicked off too hot. so the shops started bringing in boards from out west & things snowballed from there. our own herd mentality killed in utero a culture that could have given birth to a thriving local & regional shaping community (one could argue we have one anyway, but i'd say it could be more extensive). then, i think as the blue crush/rocket power/soul surfer generation grew up, they wanted to surf, so inland mommy & daddy went to the surf shop & became appalled at how expensive boards were & refused to accept that they couldn't get this "piece of sports equipment" for a "reasonable" price, shops began to look around for cheaper alternatives, lest they lose business to costco, etc...
now, there does seem to be some push back the other direction from some corners. the "support your local shaper" cry has become MUCH louder since the events of dec. 5, 2005. most shops carry boards from at least one local shaper & can tell you how to get in touch w/ at least 2 more. but at the same time, more & more floor & rack space is being taken up w/ global & surftech products.
i would love to see a shop say, "you know what? screw this. no more china boards, no more china clothes. we're only going to carry boards shaped & clothes made in the usa. don't like it? too bad." & i think it could happen if people started asking for it. research your brands. the shop i work for brought in 2 new lines this year, both made in the usa. & the clothes are great! it's nice to be able to say that my favorite t-shirt was made right here at home.
mainly, i don't have a problem w/ shops stocking boards that aren't purely local. the fact of the matter remains that the west coast still dominates the industry & will continue to do so for some time. as long as the boards are made here in the usa, i have no issue w/ them. but i'd also like to give more rack space to local shapers as well...& to do that, something has to give. & unfortunately, it's not going to be a CI or a ...lost. those companies have so much power over the shops they sell in that they can demand minimum orders...50 boards, 60 boards. & soft goods...bags, leashes, t-shirts. so to get more local guys in the door, you've gotta push someone else out. & it's hard to do that. but if more people started asking for it, i think it would happen.
ultimately, what shops carry comes down to what their customers ask for. in the summer months, the bulk of our customers are asking for foam boards & nsps. but if the real surfers, the ones who come into the shop in january & help it stay open year-round, start asking for domestically made clothes & wetsuits or boards from xx local shaper, then it'll start to happen. but it takes an effort that i'm not sure surfers are willing to give. too many of us have bought into the societal notion that it's better if you can get it for cheap. who cares if it falls apart after 1 wash? you got it for cheap! who cares if your wetsuit only lasts 2 winters? you can get another online for 30% off! consumers have to change their mindset & start demanding domestically produced, high quality items if they want their shops to carry them. unfortuantely, judging by the posts i read here, too many already view the shop as just a place to go to get boards & wax, not as the fixture of the surf community that it once was.
i think a big backlash to the push for shops to get the 'big' china brands has put the local guys in a position to be direct sellers of their boards too.
Good post - Guess shops are different and probably recollections are different. The shops i went to 20 years ago in the OC, MD area definately carried mid atlantic boards- Wetstix, Ashton, WRV, Tim Nolte and Florida boards: Natural Art, Kechele, on and on than they do nowadays.
42... you've said it best. And I think Greenlight is hitting the target, with ONLY locally made boards, and more importantly, the tools and materials for guys to make their own, which, in a "perfect world" would make this entire discussion moot. I know that some people just don't have the skills it takes to build a board, and will always buy their boards from somebody who sells them.
Which brings me to pumpmaster's point... buying direct from local shapers through a local surf shop is key to the short term success and long term longevity of the local artisan board builder. I hate to keep referring to Greenlight, but again, they've got it right. If you walk into the shop, you see several styles of boards, built by a number of talented local board builders. Your choices are fairly wide, and they're ALL accessible local guys who do everything they can to have that conversation with the buyer, build a quality product, and deliver exactly what the buyer ordered. The shop is the vehicle and conduit to the shaper, and that's the way it should be. The shop in and of itself should not be a third party, detached from the designer/builder, with a salesman doing the shaper's job of talking to customers about what they want and where they want their boards to take them.
lets face it too, most shops dont push the local shaper for a number of reasons. If a kids comes in and says I want a CI. How many shops will say, Look bro, thats a good board but if you are going to surf our waves perhaps you ought to look into a board from Wynn. He has a similar shape to the CI but its more refined to our waves. That used to happen but not so much any more.
The thing is, there are plenty of local shops that are doing quite well with Nike and the rest because they are better business people. They have an internet presence, they don't hire d-bags with piss poor attitudes and they make every customer feel wanted. This whole Nike hysteria sounds more like a cover for sh!tty shops trying to point the finger somewhere else instead of looking at their business model.
pumpmaster's point about having the opportunity to go direct to the customer is spot-on as well...& one i didn't even think of when writing my previous post.