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While in Hawaii last week, I spent a few hours with Ian McNulty, who runs Volcom’s retail operation on the Islands.
Ian showed me Volcom’s two stores in Waikiki, and we also talked about the company’s other two stores on Maui. Volcom operates a total of nine full-priced stores in the states, Ian said, so Hawaii and its four stores are a key part of Volcom’s retail portfolio.
The two Oahu stores are on Waikiki’s main strip, an easy five-minute walk apart.
The larger store – 2,200 square feet – is in the Northern edge of the strip in an area that has newer, upscale development mixed in with some older buildings and stores.
Ian told me this larger store opened about three years ago and is the Bruce Irons signature store. It carries Volcom’s full line, including fashion pieces, outerwear and even Electric goggles.
The store attracts lots of Japanese tourists, and Ian estimated more then half of its clientele barely speaks English. Volcom has some Japanese speakers on staff at this store and keeps key phrases that one needs to communicate when selling clothes - such as “this may shrink a little” – in Japanese on hand for employees to use.
With such an international clientele, Ian said its important to showcase the brand and to leave shoppers with a good impression, so the staff works hard on conveying the aloha spirit.
Interestingly, the store sells a lot of snow outerwear and a lot of goggles, Ian said. In general, higher ticket items and more fashion pieces sell well in this store.
The smaller, 750-square foot store down the street is closer to the beach and sells more beach gear, such as swim and boardshorts. This store is new, having opened in March.
Depending on what customers need, the two stores often send shoppers back and forth between stores.
In all the Hawaii stores, Hawaii specific Volcom product, such as board shorts, Ts, hoodies, backpacks and hats, are a key sales driver, Ian said. Each year, a different charity receives a percentage of sales, and the Hawaii designs are changed each year, and sometimes even more frequently.
The store rarely does promotions, and if it does, does not display them on signs. Last week, for example, the store had a buy one, get one 50% off promotion on walkshorts that was conveyed to shoppers by the staff.
The Waikiki stores get a steady flow of tourist traffic, while traffic and the Maui stores tend to peak around key vacation periods such as Christmas and Spring Break. The Maui stores also get far fewer tourists from Japan, Ian said. The Whaler’s Village store on Maui has the highest kids sell through of all Volcom stores.
Volcom’s Hawaii stores have a lot of the new spring Volcom goods, and already proving popular is the larger selection of Volcom hybrid walkshorts/boardshorts called V4S.
See our slide show, above, for photos of all of Volcom's Hawaii stores.