At Pacific Wave in downtown Santa Cruz, accessories and outerwear offer the best margins when it comes to sales of snowboard equipment. But according to Manager Andrew Bashaw, this doesn’t affect overall orders. “The size of our order depends more on what we sell through,” he says. “The margins always stay about the same. We order a lot of accessories early on and can keep reordering as we sell through. But apparel sales are down, so we tend to buy less.”
In Capitola, O’Neill Surf Shop makes its best margins off of apparel. Gloves and accessories are moneymaking items also, with boards falling in last on the list. “We probably make better margins on Burton boards than any other brand,” says Assistant Manager Elfin Saffer, “but that’s because we order more, so we get them at a better price.” Some of the boards for sale in the store actually don’t offer any margins at all, since they are on consignment from the manufacturers. When it comes time to order, margins are definitely a factor, explains Saffer: “We sell three-to-one apparel versus boards, so we order more outerwear. A lot of people already have their board, but they want to get new apparel because it’s getting better and better.”
Accessories are the big moneymaker, but apparel was the biggest seller at California Bike and Snowboard in Almo. “We sold right out of everything,” says Manager Vern Latham. Board sales have been down for the past year or so, and according to Latham, this definitely affected their orders for next season. “We won’t order as many boards,” he says, “but we will bring in lots of accessories and apparel.”
At Boardgarden in Napa, margins don’t affect ordering at all. “We just order based on what we sold the previous year,” says Manager Kevin O’Brien. Apparel always sells better there than hardgoods, and the shop does carry more outerwear than boards, but according to O’Brien, that makes no difference when it comes to the number of units ordered. And on a side note, he mentions that not one board brand stands out over the others as a better moneymaker-they’re all about the same.
Since clothing at the shop always earns a 100-percent markup, Christian Mahony, manager at Valley Skate and Surf in North Hills, says margins really don’t play much into ordering. “It’s not really the margin, but the retail price that matters,” he says. “We have to look for something that suits our clientele.” The offbeat brands tend to do better than mainstream labels, he adds.