Specialty Shops Talk At SIS

A host of topics including current retail trends, the changing youth market, the potential crossover between skiing and snowboarding, rep relations, effective POP, softgood design influences, and internet sales were all discussed in a fast-moving, freewheeling morning panel discussion the third day of the TransWorld SNOW Industry Summit.

Held at Copper Mountain, Colorado last weekend, the panel also fielded questions from a standing-room only crowd of industry executives.

The retail panel included Todd Roberts, co-owner of ZJ Boarding House in Santa Monica, California. Roberts was in surprisingly sharp form despite the efforts of several industry vets who helped him celebrate his 40th birthday the night before. Needless to say, there were a few attendees who showed up to the morning panel hurting.

Joining Roberts were Steve Saranchuk, owner of Fresh Sports in Calgary, Canada; Tait Cowen, owner of Tahoe California-based Tait’s Boardshop; and Ira Rosh, divisional merchandising manager for New York City-based Paragon Sports.

On the topic of reps, Roberts said that he expected to see them in his store at least once a month. “If a rep has relationships with the store staff, a brand will do much better,” he says.

Rosh agreed, pointing to Flow’s sales strength after the local rep spent time with the on-the-floor sales staff. Rosh also talked about effective POP: “Larger image pieces set a tone for a brand in our store, but the smaller pieces don’t work as well,” he says.

Saranchuk says that posters are good POP and giveaways, especially when customers can see a specific product in the poster that’s also being sold in the store.

On the topic of softgoods influences, Rosh talked about how New York City sees a confluence of trends between core sports, youth markets, and fashion. “Every October we see a bunch of the 7th Avenue stores buy snow industry products from us and then they knock off our industry’s looks. We also see the snow industry people buy the fashion pieces from us and some of those ideas pop up in lines later on. We’re making money off of both sides!”

Roberts says that in the Southern California market, the overall boardsports (surf/skate/snow) movement influences his softgood sales, and that the locals are definitely driven by what the pros are rocking at Bear, Mammoth, and at summer camps on Mount Hood. He also has an older customer segment focused on high-end products and particularly Gore-Tex products.

On the issue of snowboard/ski crossover, Cowan says about 30 to 40 percent of his business is coming from the freeride ski segment, even though his shop started as a snowboard shop. The younger ski customers just feel more at home in his store which supports the youthful, core brands. In New York City, Rosh says that the crossover is happening primarily in the softgoods department. “Kids are identical from the ankles up,” he says. It doesn’t matter what their choice of sliding is, they’re all looking for cool brands.

In a question and answer period, topics such as clinics, prebook versus reorders, and vendor fixtures were also discussed. Many audience members said they got a lot out of the discussing and felt it was on of the highlights of the conference.

The TransWorld SNOW Industry Summit had gathered more than 300 executives from snowboard and ski manufacturers, retailers, and resorts to discuss issues facing the group. Produced by TransWorld SNOWboarding, with partners Mountain Sports Media and SIA, the SNOW Industry Summit was held April 1 to April 4, 2004 at Copper Mountain, Colorado.