SuperShops: Keeping it core with E.T. Surf
|SuperShops is brought to you by Arnette and highlights the best core retail shops in snowboarding.|
In the late 90s and early 2000s the snowboard industry was showing promise and everyone wanted a piece. Shops seemed to spring up like zits on a teen. Even in southern California, a place that rarely sees snow — everyone was starting carry. Then there are the shops like E.T. Surf out of Hermosa Beach, who have supported snowboarding since its infancy. Now that the economy is struggling, the weather is unpredictable and parts of the industry are hemorrhaging, most shops moved on — and E.T. remains by staying true.
Starting with selling surfboard-building supplies in 1972, E.T. is one of the most established shops on the western seaboard. And when snowboarding was looked at like a kid with no future, E.T. was into it. Not only that, but the shop brought forth one of the early legends of snowboarding. “In the mid-80s we started selling snowboards. Dave Downing ran it then and we were Burton’s second account in California,” says snow manager Dave Connell. For those who are not familiar, Downing helped pave the way for us all.
Unfortunately raising a superstar doesn’t always pay the bills and E.T. has not outlasted the slew of other snowboard slingin’ shops out of dumb luck. These guys are dialed to say the least. Where other shops fail, due to ordering stuff that flat-out isn’t selling, E.T. is meticulous when it comes to buying. “Our shop has succeeded because of our owner Ed Talbot. He’s a master of numbers and retail,” Connell explains. “We’ve weathered slow times by counting every penny and by working with good vendors.”
On top of that, E.T. is not the largest store out there, but what they lack in real estate, they make up for by packing product to the rafters. “The amount of stuff we carry separates us from the competition, people can’t believe how much stuff we fit in here,” says Connell.
So many shops try to draw customers by getting the big store and elaborate displays, E.T. works differently. With customers ranging from the couch-surfer to the world travellers, the beach shop endures by continuing to do things their way. Staying true is becoming less common regardless of industry and it’s never easy when profits are concerned, but it’s clearly holding E.T. Surf above water as many shops have long been drowned. “I describe it as a classic surf shop that still smells like wax and resin,” notes Connell. “People come in and remember when they bought their first skate, snow or surfboard her and trip out.”