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Reader responds to retail issue

By Tiffany Montgomery
January 09, 2008 6:09 AM

I received a passionate response to Vipe Desai's essay about why manufacturers need to open their own stores.

Robby Roberts owns Pure Board Shop in Maryland. Before that, he was a co-owner of Evolve Board Shop.

Pure Board Shop Robby and Bernedette RobertsHere's a photo Robby sent me
of he and his wife, Bernedette.

Here's what he had to say:

"It seems soon, the only way we small speciality retailers will be able to squeeze out a sustainable income for our families is to start our own private labels and cut down our Open to Buy with those vendors turned retailers.


"The biggest brands in snow and surf are now in the retail business. It may not stop until all that is left for our boarding needs are the dreadful mall (lol) board shops and other surf/skate/snow vendor's branded stores. (And maybe a few CORE shops at the skate parks, beaches and mountains.)


"It seems like some of the larger "surf/skate" shops may be on to something.

"Put some window dressing on the big, well-known brands in your shop and fill the rest of your shop with your PL brand and some other home-made cool sounding PL brands like 'Skulls are Kool' (just made that up and no, you can't use it). Make it and sell it!


"Referring to Vipe Desai's article, which encouraged me to write this, I am not sure what big speciality chains he is speaking of which had all their purchase orders on wheels (was this the 80's?) and sent back so much product that vendors "HAD TO" open their outlet stores.

"He really doesn't seem to offer any answers in his article and his reason that manufacturers "had to" open up outlet stores because of all the over bought product retailers returned is unbelievable.


"The only reason vendors "had to" open up their own stores was profit and also producing a lot more product than pre-booked paper showed.

"Cut your production, be smart and don't produce excess product.

"It seems the snowboard industry is doing a decent job of this since the wild and crazy mid-90's.

"Also, all the dumping of this excess product to gray marketers, to Sam's Club, Costco, Marshalls and TJ MAXX must have relieved some of warehouse pressure.

"Hey here's an idea: Hook up more small speciality guys with off-price merchandise. Or would that cut into full pop pre-books?


"Vendors opening their own stores is for nothing more than greed...We are now dealing with publicly held companies who only care about bottom line and margins.


"Man, if I could manufacture a snowboard for less than $100 total cost and retail it in the high $400's - or a hoody for $12 and sell if for $60 - I would be a fool not to. (Figures are not completely accurate as I sell snowboards, not manufacture them).

"Of course hurting the loyal, hard-working retailers who have supported my brand for decades and have made me a ton of money would stop me, personally, from taking the money. I would be the fool but I would have my integrity.

"Pierre André Senizergues, the founder and CEO of Sole Tech said (On Shop-Eat-Surf.com),

'As far as stand alone retail stores, we have no plans for the coming year to launch any stores. With the challenging economy ahead of us, we feel it is more important to support our current retailers and provide product and programs that support their sell through and drive consumers to them.


'Market focus is our main goal for this coming year and we don't plan to take our eye off the ball with such a tremendous undertaking. In 2008, our retailers will need our focus more than ever as the market shifts, our priority has to be on them.'


"Focus on the retailers who buy, promote, support and sell your products. Wow, this is a good idea!"

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