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Surfing Consumers Taking the Power Back

People who are die-hard surfers, who are really into the sport, no matter what the economy is like, they want to get out there and surf. But they’re still looking for some kind of sale.” Tanya Turner, Manager, Jack’s Surfboards in Dana Point

Now this may come across as me being a cheap ass, which in these trying economic times is actually quite the compliment, but $55+ for boardshorts just isn’t going to jive with me, or most any other surfers any longer. Why the sudden rant about a product that has been incredibly overpriced for years now? Well in the current economic toilet bowl we find ourselves in, it’s a notice to surf brands and retailers alike that the extreme over-pricing of goods simply isn’t going to fly with us right now. This doesn’t just apply to boardshorts, they are just the easiest target to go after. Overall, the popularity explosion of surfing and other action sports through the late-80’s, the ’90’s, and into this decade allowed major brands to get away with blowing up their prices to whatever they felt like. Since it was cool to be a surfer, there wasn’t enough opposition to combat these unruly prices….That’s all about to change.

The industry had been on a really solid growth curve for the past 10 years, so this is really the first time that it’s taken a step back. It’s more than just that core surfer that they’re speaking to. They gained more customers, so they have more to lose too.” Andy Tompkins, group show director of ASR

It was a combination of things that set me off on this tangent. One being an article in the L.A. Times that basically told us what we already know, the economy is hitting the surf industry right in the family jewels. In the days before this article came out, I had spent quite a bit of time in surf shops all over Hawai’i gearing up for the next voyage to Central America. Given the fact that I was aiming to spend less than I typically would, I was hunting for better deals so I could get the most bang for my buck. With the astronomical prices that boardshorts have been placed at for some time now, I decided to hit up a couple of my favorite outlet stores instead, happily handing over my money in exchange for much more than I would have received at any of the top surf shops. Trust me, I won’t be alone in this. It’s quite simple really- $55-$90 for boardshorts from leading brands that fill up the majority of retail stores….or $12.99-$25 for boardies from outlet stores that serve the exact same purpose.

Those who hope to survive the recession need to somehow find someway to offer surfers a better deal. There is a reason why sites like Whiskey Militia continue to see increased success while everyone else seems to struggle. There is a reason why outlet stores will see more consumers passing through their doors to score better deals. The reason? Easy- we’re taking the power back.

Posted by Shaun on Wednesday, March 4th, 2009 in Surfing.

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4 Responses to “Surfing Consumers Taking the Power Back”

  • Joshua Beal Says:

    As a financial advisor, I’ve been seeing more and more people move towards necessities when making purchases as opposed to splurging on luxury items. Surfshorts are a necessity, yes, but as Shaun points out, they don’t need to be $55-90 each.

    I’ve always made it a point to live below my means, purchasing items on sale and focusing on ’saving’ my money for difficult economic times like we are experiencing today. For surf shorts, since I’m now on the Mainland, I’ve been able to find great deals at everyday stores like Walmart or Costco.

    It’s important to support our local communities, so I’m hopeful that surfshop owners will take notice start stocking goods that are, not only affordable, but appeal to all levels of the socio-economic spectrum. In business, I strongly believe there is always something for everyone, so firms need to keep that in mind.

  • surgent Says:

    I bought some baggies from a outlet store, and yes they cost me half the price to the big names. But, they lasted like a half season, fell apart.
    My old big industry name baggies are in there 4th season and I surf alot. Sometimes its woth paying the money! only if these brands continue to use qualtiy long lasting materials.

  • ryan Says:

    I think the power needs to move back into the hands of the local shop owners. Then we’ll see the prices come down. A mega-brand sees an account number, a shop sees the customer.

  • hoon Says:

    rather than shopping at a significant discount, i’ve moved to consume less. better for the environment and my wallet. do we really need to buy two pairs of board shorts every year?

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