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Aaron Pai on changes to HSS junior's store

By Tiffany Montgomery
April 10, 2009 8:23 AM

Several people have asked me about the changes to the Huntington Surf & Sport junior's store on Main Street in Huntington Beach, so I followed up with owner Aaron Pai to find out more.

Aaron PaiAaron said the store in no longer a junior's-only store, and now mostly carries brands owned by Billabong. It is still a HSS store and is owned by Aaron and operated by his team.

Here is what Aaron had to say about the changes in his business:

We hear there are some changes at the HSS junior's store. Can you share with us what those changes are?

We completely demoed, renovated and reopened the store in 10 days! There is a heavy emphasis on Billabong, Element, Von Zipper, Sector 9, Dakine, Nixon and other products. We carry junior's, men's, boy's, and girl's products along with many surf accessories and products. If you haven't seen the changes at our Main/Walnut store, stop in and say "Hi" to Sunshine and her crew. The store looks great and the crew is doing a fantastic job.

Why did you decide to make the changes?

We are always looking for ways to improve and freshen our business and this is one of the ways that we believe in the short-run and long-run to strengthen our business. Billabong as a company is performing really well and it makes sense with all the different dynamics of the company and the multiple brands that they now possess.

How is the junior's business in general for HSS?

Over the last 12 months the junior's business in general for HSS has had its ups and downs especially with the recession - but so has most business due to the recession. However, currently our industry and the junior's market is headed in the right direction. The junior's line for spring and summer of Billabong, Element, Hurley, O'Neill, Volcom and Roxy to name a few are looking really strong and spring is showing some good sales of certain styles and departments.

Our industry is giving us good price point items to help the customers out during the recession and to compete with some of the cheaper retailers that don't surf but try and sell surf.

HSS Walnut and Main Street storeWill the new store compete with the HSS on PCH? Meaning, will Billabong brands still be carried in that store as well?

Billabong brands will be carried at both stores. No worries though, due to both of the stores having great locations in a great location and with a great surf break out front! having great locations in a great location?

Is HSS now financial partners with Billabong in the store?

It's still a HSS store. I own it, I sign the rent check. Billabong goes beyond being a financial partner. They are "family" just like Hurley, O'Neill, Volcom and Quiksilver. Paul Naude, Bob Hurley, Pat O'Neill, Richard Wolc ott and Bob McKnight are family and I have known most of them for over 35 years and have surfed around the world with many of these guys. Paul Naude can pay me 1,000 waves at J-Bay (I love that place) during the next Billabong Pro ... okay Paul? He-he.

How is business overall? How to see the rest of the year playing out?

All four stores, including Java Point Coffee, have seen an increase in foot traffic this past month and have us feeling hopeful as we enter into a fun and busy season.

We have been proactive in building an aggressive plan to cut costs, work the margin side of the business, and run with much leaner inventories for the remainder of the year.

There are beginning to be bright spots in our economy, interests rates are coming down and the housing market it showing some excitement.

Man, I hope business picks up. I really would like to make it over to Tavi later this year! We are just a bunch of surfers trying to do a good job. ... But we do take our business very serious as you can tell!


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