Carson Cordasco

Most of the customers at Soma Sports in San Francisco are at the recreational level, says manager David McDill, and aren’t intune with industry happenings. The shop caters more to the weekend warriors than it does to ’core riders. The main reason for this is the location of the shop. Soma Sports is in a booming business area with a lot of young professionals moving into the area. “Lots of nine-to-fivers,” says McDill.

His customers know more about Microsoft’s latest marketing move than they do about the K2/Ride deal. According to McDill, it’s not the customer’s job to be familiar with the cogs of the industry, it’s his. He believes his people working in the shop are qualified enough to help out customers no matter how tuned in or out they are.

Kevin Kan, manager of Berkeley Boardsports in Berkeley, breaks his clientele into two major groups: “don’t know anything,” and “come in with a Burton catalog and know exactly what they want.”

Then there’s a very small percentage who read up and actually know what’s going on in the industry. Because of the shop’s close proximity to the university (UC Berkeley), there’s plenty of customer turnover among the college students, and they’re more likely to concern themselves with the woes of the rain forest than to study up on the latest Vans’ acquisition.

Kan also thinks his customer’s apparent lack of industry awareness isn’t hurting the shop.

According to Brad Spann, owner of Five Points Skate/Snowboards in Ventura, “Customers are pretty on top of it. They know who’s wearing what and who’s riding for which brand. We’re selling snow clothes and snowboards in 90 degree weather–it’s great.”

The shop carries some fairly expensive snow clothes, but the customers don’t seem to mind, says Spann “They know the name and quality and don’t appear to be bothered by price,” he says.

Marc Lereau, manager at Surf Ride in Oceanside, has noticed that his customers have started to become better informed about the industry and are pretty aware of what’s going on within it. The affect is a positive one and adds more credibility to his shop because his comments to customers are educated and as a result, more well received. He says Surf Ride’s customers are seeking out quality and doing their homework. He sees them looking more like ski-industry customers and finds that he’s building stronger relationships when he’s able to echo their same concerns from his own knowledge–especially with repeat customers.