I was in Tampa last week, so stopped by the Skatepark of Tampa to check out their operation and talk with General Manager Ryan Clements.
I must say, I was impressed. The Skatepark of Tampa is an industrial part of town and includes a store, a large skate park (where they are building a lounge for parents), and an online operation. It has 23 employees.
I was also impressed by some of their business decisions. They bought the land and buildings were they operate eight years ago, before the run up in Florida real estate prices. They use two of the warehouses, and rent out the other.
And, they jumped into the online game seven years ago, long before many others in the industry. Their website is an online store, and a content center that is constantly uploaded with fresh information.
The site is run by SPOT's Rob Meronek, a former CPA and also a computer programmer. He not only posts most of the content to the site, he has designed all the point of sale systems for both the store and online and integrated it all together, Ryan said. Gift cards can be purchased and refilled online or in store.
In addition, SPOT owner Brian Schaefer, Ryan and Rob also own a company called Spotlight that puts on skateboarding contests and events around the world, including Vans Downtown Showdown, DC King of LA, the Copenhagen Pro and its own Damn Am contests in Minnesota, Costa Mesa, Amsterdam and Vancouver.
I talked with Ryan about how business is going and where they see growth coming from.
Ryan said SPOT's revenue is divided 50/50 between the store/skatepark and online. He said revenues were essentially flat for 2006 and 2007 and will be for 2008. But, the company will net more money this year because it has tightened up operations. Putting the right people in the right jobs has helped, he said. Even small things like closing a bathroom at certain times so it doesn't need to be cleaned as much makes a difference to the bottom line.
Because SPOT owns the three warehouses, Ryan said they can be very flexible and expand or contract as needed.
When it comes to product sales, Ryan said Nike SB sales are up, while many other brands are soft. He said Nike SB has the best sell through and the best margins.
SPOT gets all the most exclusive Nike SB models, which attracts customers from far and wide to their store. He also noted that Altamont is coming up.
SPOT has a private label program that sells well. In addition to the basic logo goods, they also do limited edition releases of shirts, hat and decks combinations each quarter.
Ryan said he remains positive about the business because they have a diversified model.
"It you just had one thing and didn't have the ability to diversify, it would be tough," he said.
Ryan said they are in talks about becoming the behind-the-scenes fulfillment center for a major skateboard operation.
"We see the most potential to grow online," Ryan said.
Here are some other photos of the store and skatepark: