Billabong threw open the doors of its new 5,800-square-foot flagship retail store earlier this week in Costa Mesa for a grand opening party. The store, located at the 40,000-square-foot retail concept “village” dubbed The Camp, includes an indoor quarterpipe, a multimedia and internet area, and a large tank of water where customers can float surfboards to check their rocker¿a unique feature in the surf-retail world.

According to Steve Culley, Billabong’s vice president of retail operations, the flagship store will allow Billabong to test various point of purchase strategies and get an instant read on which items are checking — which will help all of Billabong’s retailers. Tulley emphasizes that Billabong has no intention of becoming a competitor of its vendors.

This is Billabong’s third location in California. According to Culley, the brand has a small 1,200-square-foot store in Laguna Beach and 2,400-square-foot shop in Los Angeles.

Company-owned stores are not a new feature in the action sports industry, although many retailers cry foul when a brand puts one up. While Billabong celebrated this opening, Quiksilver celebrated its 100th store opening this year. And don’t forget other brands such as Rip Curl, Vans, and Burton have had flagship stores for years. The Camp is the vision of Shaheen Sadeghi, who opened an “anti-mall” called The Lab just across the street on Bristol back in 1993. This time Sadeghi has created a more outdoor-oriented retail experience. Billabong shares The Camp with a 9,000-foot Adventure 16, and a 3,000 square-foot Patagonia store — as well as other shops and restaurants.

As usual, Billabong rolled out the red carpet for the grand opening — this time directly into a yurt in front of the store — for a broad crossection of mainstream and surf-industry media types.

Look for more on the growth of brand-owned retailer stores in an upcoming issue of TransWorld SURF Business