Vans Adds Experiences to Larger Store and More at Vans US Open
I stopped by the Vans US Open of Surfing Tuesday to see what features Vans has added to the grounds this year.
Since we are focused on business news here at SES, we are always most intrigued by the huge Vans store on the sand. There are many changes inside the store this year.
We also got the chance to talk with Americas GM Mitch Whitaker about his first two years on the new job after leading Vans in Asia and about Vans approach to the US Open. Executive Edition members can read that story here.
As far as what’s new on the larger grounds, the Vans ethos is one of inclusivity and openness and as they like to say, enabling creative self-expression. Those values are represented on the site including a music jam area complete with instruments and microphones that is open to the public, a hands on art creation area, a stage for bands to perform, and a street market where Vans invited in local vendors that align with the Vans vision to show and sell their work.
There’s also an open shaping bay where Vans athletes and others are working on boards, which spectators can watch. The goal is to expose more people to surf culture.
When it comes to the huge store on the sand, it’s even bigger this year, growing from 10,000 square feet to 15,000. The new square footage did not necessarily add lots of selling space, but instead added more experiences for customers to interact with the brand.
New in the store this year:
- A large customization booth where shoppers can customize a T-shirt, slide sandals and even shoes in a matter of minutes. Last year, a smaller customization booth was outside the store, but this year Vans brought it inside and gave it a much bigger presentation. Again, the goal is to add more chances for customers to interact with the brand.
- A new surf specific area that includes a display of boards and a grouping of Vans surf collections.
- New stations where consumers can design and order custom shoes on iPads, similar to what Vans has in other Vans stores.
I was there on Tuesday afternoon, and the store was busy – and loud. It’s quite a feat to operate that big of a store on the sand. Luckily, Vans has a very experienced retail operation thanks to its large retail fleet. Vans has over 2,000 retail locations globally including owned, concession and partnership doors.
For the US Open, Vans brings in 165 store employees from Southern California and 12 store managers from around the U.S. and Canada. From load in to load out, including filling the temporary store with 100,000 units of merchandise, the project takes 17 days, according to Stevie Harris, the Project Manager for Vans Retail Stores.
The most popular products?
“US Open specific merchandise,” Harris said. “It always flies of the shelf – T-shirts but also US Open specific shoes. We see people wearing a 2018 Vans US Open T-shirt buying a 2019 T-shirt. The new customization station is also popular, we are going to sell out of slides.”
This weekend, of course, will be the busiest time at the store and at the contest, which continues through Sunday.