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Becker Surf is doing something most retailers are not in this economic climate: opening a new store.
Becker co-owner Dave Hollander told me he is opening a 7,000-square foot SUP (stand up paddle) store in Mission Viejo about 100 yards away from the current Becker store, which will remain open.
The new SUP store, Becker Paddle Surf, will be in a space once occupied by Active Ride Shop. It will open in January and carry about 150 new boards and accessories. It will also offer rentals, demos, repair services and lessons. Becker is also building a SUP micro site on its popular online retail site, beckersurf.com
Dave gave me some more details about the new SUP store and the strategy behind it.
Dave: “Retail is behind the demand here as people can't find the stuff. I was with Wooly (Richard Woolcott of Volcom) three weeks ago and when I told him our plans he commented that he wanted to look at all the paddles out there and he had no idea where to look. He said his local shop where he bought his board had three.
“This is a lot like 2007/Blue Crush for surfing. Everybody you talk to wants to try this sport. Young and old, men and women. The really cool thing is the demographic is over 50 percent women. How is that!
“The barriers to entry at retail are huge because of the space requirement and the margins. Most shops can't carry more than a couple of these beasts, let alone present them in a manner representative of their beauty and dynamics.
“Considering the economy, it is a given that existing stores are at the edge of surviving, and the last thing they need is a $1,000 wholesale SKU with a 30 percent markup. Bottom line, existing stores don't have the space, don't have the money, and can't create the authenticity that this new market is demanding. This is not a surf market add-on. This market is quickly developing its own identity and it is not surf. It is waterman, but not surf.
“The new online initiative is a site within a site on Beckersurf.com. Our site is too powerful to ignore, but we feel there are really two different markets here that need their own space and identity. This is all (retail and online) a work in progress as this market is developing before our eyes. The market for this sport is absolutely huge between the two coasts.
“This is so much like our first Becker store on Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach in 1980. A ton of beautiful boards, a ton of stoke, and a very big passion and dream. The editor of our local newspaper, who is an accomplished waterman but new to the SUP phenomenon responded to my press release and said the store was “Balsy.” I will take that as a compliment. To be frank, this industry could use more of that.
“I have not been this stoked in a very long time, the stoke is real.”