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Tiffany Montgomery
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Hobie Laguna Beach will launch first Green Room in three weeks

By Tiffany Montgomery
May 05, 2009 6:35 AM

Since the Hobie Surf Shop in Laguna Beach will launch the first Action Sports Environmental Coalition inspired Green Room over Memorial Day weekend, I checked in with Hobie Surf Shops partner Jake Schwanter and asked him some questions about the project.

Here's what Jake had to say:

I understand you are launching a "Green Room" in your Laguna Beach store over Memorial Day weekend. Why?

First and foremost, it's just the right thing to do and the timing could not be any better.

We have been pulsating quietly in this movement for quite some time now. Along with the organic program we started over five years ago, we teamed up with Patagonia and have helped them spearhead their launch into the surf market. With Patagonia pushing hard with their program and the surf industry now getting themselves moving in the right direction - it all just makes sense.

How big will it be and what will be included?

The first location will be in Laguna Beach and will take up about 600 square feet of space. What will be included is a "farmers market" of products -- clothing, skateboards, accessories and footwear.

How is ASEC helping with the project?

Having the support and energy of Frank Scura is awesome. The marketing and networking that ASEC is providing will be huge. They will be featuring us on their web site and they are currently working on a visual merchandise package that will be very beneficial in helping to pioneer this first ever ASEC Green Room.

Currently, how well do green products do in your store?

Patagonia goes without saying - it rocks! The organic program that we do through Hobie Surf Shops has been growing steadily for the past five years. Some of the other vendors we are carrying are doing well and for others, it's still too early to tell as some have just arrived and are hitting the floors now.

Do you believe this will offer a point of differentiation in a crowded retail landscape?

Only if you merchandise it well and know how to sell it. It's a great story that is only gaining steam and with a lot of surf shops carrying all the same brands, this channel gives us a lot of flexibility to go where others don't dare.

I understand the entire San Clemente store may turn into a "green" store. Can you tell me more about that?

We have two stores on Avendia Del Mar in San Clemente. One is focused more on the fashion end of the beach lifestyle and the other is where we stock more of the surf hardgoods and smaller niche brands. This store is 1,200 square feet and located right next to the best health food eatery and near where the weekly Farmers Market ends.

Clearly, if you mix one part "healthy San Clemente local" and second part "local Farmers Market shopper," a 100% Natural Products store could be a good recipe?

Are you satisfied with the green offerings from the brands?

With Patagonia, yes. They have been doing it for so long now and really live it, so that's a no brainer. As for the others, there are a few who really do it well and believe in it. Others are probably just circling in the waters and dabbling in it to see where it's going. The ones that really believe in it will be the ones that will be in our Hobie stores.

Do you have any advice for others who are interested in opening a green section in their stores?

Like anything else you do in life, you gotta believe to achieve!

If it is a movement you feel good about and can support it, merchandise it, make it stand out from the rest of the product and be knowledgable on the benefits, then go for it and make it happen. It's a great new path in this industry and the journey can be fun.

 


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