Words by; BJellig
The shops started sowing this seed many years ago – around 2005-ish… it took longer than I personally had expected to get to this point though, so, kudos to the shops that actually made it this far. The shops mainly lived within a “bubble” for a long time but times change, consumer tastes evolve and also change, technology progresses at a constant and brands are vulnerable fickle entities just like anything. The age old rule used to be that “the shop validates the brand” and not the other way around. That got muddied to say the least over the years to where a “core” shop started looking more like an unkempt Macy’s floorset than its own unique experience, literally. The core shop brands were all but the same as a dept store but actually with less selection and less variety, coupled with higher prices. How was that going to sustain long term? The authentic smell of “surf wax” can only go so far lol. The big brands tried to continually explain and show how they had a “core shop collection” just for surf shops… does an average consumer know that or even care about that.
Meanwhile, the big brands were focused at their HQ offices on not just mass distribution but squashing out the small up and coming brands and the core shops are at fault there too with the results because, in the end, it worked and is still working. What core shop was going to drop Quik, Billabong, Hurley, Nike and now (sadly) Volcom? They weren’t and for the most part, haven’t. Imagine if the core shop network got together though with the goal of taking back control and validation of their identity and destiny? Imagine them all working together with a group of legitimate and proven small brands that are coming up… imagine those shops saying to each other: “Next season, we are dropping the big brands, altogether, cold turkey and redesigning and reconfiguring our floors and putting a spotlight onto ‘these’ selected brands. We’re going to back each other and ride this out together. The big brands can find their place at the mall and Costco or TJ Max direct. Imagine those core shops showing the youth and the community what and WHY they exist and why surf culture is unique and interesting. Should have been done YEARS ago before it was too late. Now it’s very late in this game and Quik & Billabong and every big brand is owned by the same few entities controlling all the shops. Imagine coming together like that though? What is there to lose? The shop network is losing power as it is right now and if nothing is done, most will be closed and out of business in time – it’s the current path they are on.