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Surf Ride CEO Josh Bernard Weighs In On 38 Years Of Surf Retail

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Photo: Christopher Kimball

Opening the doors of its Oceanside, California location in 1974, Surf Ride  has been a leader in Southern California surf retail for nearly 40 years. The business, started by Bill Bernard, got its start more than three decades ago and still remains a family-run company to this day with son Josh Bernard taking the helm as CEO.

Opening a second location in 1997 just south on Coast Highway with an 8,000-square-foot floor space in Solana Beach, Bernard and the Surf Ride family are continuing to expand their offering. Recently the Oceanside shop updated its space to include a giant boardroom consuming the entire second floor, bumping its shopable floor space to 11,000-square feet and helping boost surfboard sales at the shop, according to Josh Bernard. The retailer also has a centrally located warehouse for its offices and shipping and receiving department.

Bernard suspended his busy holiday schedule to explain a little more about the shop that he’s called home for more than a decade.

Josh Bernard, Surf Ride CEO

Josh Bernard, Surf Ride CEO

How long have you been working at the shop?

I’ve been on payroll for 15 years, but working since I can ever remember. When your dad starts the business you find yourself working at a very early age… “Child labor laws are silly and outdated”- Moogatu from Zoolander

What was your dad up to before he opened Surf Ride?

Bill Bernard was a man of many talents. He had his own restaurant in Cardiff (The Hut) which he sold prior to opening Surf Ride and sold Real Estate on the side.

Do you have an online store?

Yes, surfride.com

If yes, what percentage of your business is online vs. brick and mortar?

surfride.com is around 10% of our total business

Percentage of inventory dedicated to hardgoods? 63%

Percentage of inventory dedicated to men’s apparel? 14%

Percentage of inventory dedicated to junior’s apparel? 8%

Percentage of inventory dedicated to accessories? 4%

Percentage of inventory dedicated to footwear? 5%

Percentage of inventory dedicated to sandals? 4%

What are your top three most profitable product categories?

1. Men’s Apparel, 2. Wetsuits, and 3. Surf Accessories

What has been the single best-selling brand over the past six months?

O’neill

Who are the top three reps that service your store and what makes them special?

Michael Burns, Dave Taxer, and Jared Lane. All three of these reps are the most consistent reps when it comes to servicing the account and making sure we are solid on everything we need for the weeks to come.

What is your overall impression of the local market over the past six months?

The local market seems to be on the up and up. Things have been looking good for us over the last 6 months and I hope this trend will continue for years to come.

What store (or multiple stores) are your closest competition?

Hansen’s and Jack’s for hardwoods, and Sun Diego on the softgoods side.

Overall expectations for your business over the next 6-12 months?

I expect business to keep growing little by little. I know it’s ambitious, but sometimes you just have to keep a positive view on things!

Is your shop altering the way you buy for 2013?

No, every year we focus more and more on hardgoods, which will continue to be our focus. Other than that, we will just try to keep fresh product in the stores so that people decide to visit Surf Ride instead of going to the mall!

Is your shop working closer with any particular brands?

We really like to try and support core businesses especially if they are a locally owned company. We are fortunate enough to have a ton of talented people around our area who are pushing the industry in a positive, forward direction. A few local brands we are growing with would be Brixton, Chemistry, Raen, and Captain Fin, to name a few.

What are some things brands are doing to work with your shop?

Brands have been great working with us to support our Window Program, and any in shop displays, POP or other build out type projects. They have been especially accommodating over the last few years when times were tough by extending credit to us and trusting that we are not going anywhere. We’ve been around for 35+ years and plan on being around for another 50+ years!

Surf Ride Oceanside 1909 S. Coast Highway, Oceanside, CA 92054 (760) 433-4020

Surf Ride Solana Beach 325 N. Highway 101, Solana Beach, CA 92075 (858) 755-0858

SurfRide.com (888) 802-7873 info@surfride.com