In reporting our state of snowboarding story, we wanted to check in with a key retailer in the industry to get a quick take on how the current season is going so far.
We keep hearing that Seattle-based evo is a forward-thinking retailer, so we asked CEO Bryce Phillips some questions about business, and have his answers below.
Evo recently announced it is expanding to Portland, and that its new, indoor skate park has opened underneath its Seattle location.
(SES Executive members can read the state of the snowboard industry story here.)
How is the season turning out for evo so far?
Bryce Phillips: We've had an overall good year at evo but the lack of snow has definitely been impacting us, especially over the last five or so weeks and we expect that to continue, especially given the current conditions on the West Coast.
Snowboard as a category, however, continues to thrive at evo both in the store and online. That said, this year's lack of snow in Washington has had a larger impact on our store business and the recent trend gives us reason to approach this coming year with caution.
Any interesting trends regarding the popularity of snowboarding or free skiing you are noticing?
Bryce: From a snowboard product perspective, traditional camber is slowly taking back some of market share that the rocker/reverse camber craze took from it over the past few years.
For evo, skiing and snowboarding as categories are now very close to matching market meaning our percent of sales for each category is close to the breakdown between the two sports market wide.
Historically, skiing was larger, but it seems that our snowboard growth has dramatically bucked the industry-wide trend so we are pretty happy about that.
What do you think is the biggest challenge in the industry?
Bryce: Specific to the snow industry, weather really is the biggest moving target. Diversification on the web and opening more stores will help offset that, but snow by far is the primary driver of our business.
More broadly, challenges including participation - specifically barriers to entry including cost, and the sales/production/delivery cycle that does not match to the customer's participation patterns would make the top three.
Is there anything you are optimistic about?
Bryce: Generally speaking, we are optimistic when it comes to our business and what we have done and are doing to distinguish evo in the marketplace.
As has become clear in recent years, it's critical to deliver a highly differentiated experience and to be agile enough to maneuver in an unstable market in order to thrive into the future.
Moreover, we are very focused on creating a great place for employees and also leveraging evo to give back, specifically working to help underprivileged youth. This holistic approach is what has helped us grow.
I say that also acknowledging that we have endless areas where we need to improve.
More specifically, we are very happy about the launch of All Together Skatepark underneath our evo Flagship Store. Here's a video that sums up why ATS is a bright spot for evo right now.