Costa Mesa, California’s Surfside Sports is no stranger to the TransWorld Business Awards. This is the fourth year that Surfside has taken the title of California Regional Retailer of the Year, and additionally, this year the shop has been awarded TransWorld Business’ Overall Retailer of the Year and Hardgoods Retailer of the Year. Anything but an easy feat, Surfside has become an institution within the TransWorld Business Awards, and 2012 proved to be no different. We caught up with Surfside owner Duke Edukas to get his take on what has made Surfside stand out amongst the masses since its founding in the 1970’s. Check out what he had to say below:
After a year hiatus as shop of the year, what did you do differently in 2012 that may have put you back in this spot?
Surfside has been around since 1974. We purchased it in 1992. We carry Volcom, Ruca, Quiksilver, Hurley, Billabong, Roxy, O’neill, Tom’s, Go pro, Burton, Mervin Mfg., Never Summer, Union, Arbor, Signal, Battalion, Forum, Flux, 686, Betty Rides, NXTZ, Bern, Smith, Von Zipper, Oakley, Spy, Electric, Anon, Sabre, Nixon, RipCurl, Neff, Matuse, Lost, Channel Islands, JS surfboards, Hap Jacobs, Bing, Dakine, FCS, Future, OAM, Reef, Vans, Nike, Converse, Addidas, Emerica, Brixton, Howe, and a ton more.
Our customers are from all walks of life, various socioeconomic demographics and backgrounds. Men, boys, moms, girls, etc.; different age groups, with different interests. The one thing they all have in common is that they usually live in our community and enjoy the same interests that reflect the products and lifestyles Surfside represents.
I think our success is based upon our longevity in a community that truly embraces all of the product we carry. Our goal is long term. Our customers are our friends. We have families who continue to shop here through generations. Newport Beach and Costa Mesa are not like a lot of other communities in our country. Kids don’t grow up, go to school, move away and raise a family; they stay and raise their families, their kids start working here, we sponsor their kids, their kids shop here, and the circle continues . . .
We really haven’t done anything differently this year than we’ve done in previous years, except for embracing several newer, upstart brands.
What’s the most rewarding thing about working with your brands and customers this year?
The continued support from our brands is amazing, it really makes it feel like we’re all on the same team. A very mutually respectful relationship is the best way to put it. Our customers’ continued patronage is never taken for granted. We love it when we see the same faces week after week. It’s so cool to hear customers tell their friends, “I told you, these guys really know their shit,” or, “I can’t believe you’ve never been in here, these guys are so cool.”
What’s your philosophy on the role of specialty retailers?
Our role is, and will always be the same: To reflect how passionate our industry and our brand is in relation to all the sports, brands, and lifestyles our customers embrace; to treat everyone in a respectful, nurturing, and friendly manner; to know everything about all of the product we carry and then some; lastly, to simply be honest with people, knowing that if we embrace our customers, they will continue to embrace us.
What do you think makes your shop different?
We only have one store. All of our energy is dedicated to it. The people who work here are very passionate about all the action sports we represent. We are very careful to not take anything for granted. We treat our customers like welcomed guests, and the vendors as partners.
Why do you think your brands nominated you for this award?
Because they see us all the time, and know us intimately; they realize that we really do strive to do the best job we can, and because they know that we are honest.
Tell us a little about your approach to selling hard goods that makes you stand out on this front?
Simply put: our expertise on product knowledge. At any given time, there will be a person who works here that has actually ridden that snowboard you’ve read about in the catalogs or online. The person at “Mr. Big-Box” retailer told you your snowboard is beyond repair? Ask us before you throw it out. Need an FCS or Future fin for your surfboard, but not sure which one to get? What’s up with that new “Neck Beard,” “Sub-Driver,” or “Revolution”? We will have someone here who can guide you in the right direction. What’s the scoop on which size of skateboard is best for your kid? Ask one of our skate guys, some of which are former pros.
What have been the biggest highlights and lowlights of 2012?
Highlights have been support from snow companies after the most dismal year in the snow biz, the success of many of the new brands within our store, and the continuing success of many of the traditional ones. Another highlight was fishing with Ruiz, Raya, and Eric Thomas in Cabo and the “Penny” revolution. And last but not least, our industries support for the victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York and Jersey.
Lowlights were the worst snow season in history; several of our personal friends being laid off at several surf companies; the perceived, and genuine difficulties of some of the publicly held surf companies; Hurricane Sandy; Burton’s decision to pull the plug in regards to Analog clothing.
What are your predictions for 2013?
Sorry, we broke our crystal ball during last year’s snow season . . .
Anything else you’d like to add?
Just that it is a real honor for us to get this award. We don’t enter into the new year thinking “How do we go about winning an award or two?” We think more along the lines of, “What are some of the challenges, hurdles, changes, and difficulties will we face in the year to come?” The people who work here are the key to our success, right along with our customers. Often times when things are going good, the store is firing on all cylinders, all the buyers and sales reps are in the “lock & load” mode, all I can think is “Ok Duke, calm down, take a deep breath, and don’t screw this up!”