SuperShops: Pacific Wave Surf Shop
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While Santa Cruz is well known for its surf and skate scene, many outside of the area don’t realize that the snow industry is alive in the west coast town. It is breathing — and Pacific Wave is proof as they safeguard its pulse. Starting as one storefront, neighboring stores moved out and Pacific Wave moved in. They now are three store fronts combined and have some serious square footage.
With two decades under its belt the shop has carried snowboards from day one, explains Kathy Blackmon, Pacific Wave’s head buyer and assistant manager. “Often tourists come in and are shocked that we carry snow goods. In fact, we are the last board shop in town to do so,” she says.
As core shops all around drop out and close their doors for good, others are cutting back and not only dropping brands, but whole departments. Pacific Wave could have dropped snowboarding like the rest of the shops in the area and focused just on the skate and surf scene, but out of passion and determination they keep the stoke alive in Santa Cruz. “Sometimes selling snow goods can be very nerve racking, especially in seasons like last year,” Blackmon explains. “There was so little snow that most locals didn’t even bother making the trek up to Tahoe. They just stayed here and surfed, and enjoyed warm days at the beach. We just had to count our losses.”
In terms of volume and brand count in snowboard products, Pacific Wave does not have what some shops do, but in snowboarding, quality usually reigns over quantity. “Our snow department is small compared to local Tahoe shops, but we try to carry most of the key brands that are in demand,” says Blackmon. “This means listening to our customers and making changes accordingly. I think what makes our shop function so well is the fact that our buyers are super stoked on the product that we’re buying.”
The stoke doesn’t stop at the buyers. And doing just as all shops should, but what many don’t, the buyers spread the enthusiasm. “When I’m excited about a product, I make it known by sharing my knowledge about it with all the staff, who in-turn get excited about it,” Blackmon says. “In a store of our size, it’s pretty easy to find a brand that at least one employee is stoked on. If an employee doesn’t want to sell it, people see this and don’t want to buy it.”
Even with key product, staff excitement and all the necessary product knowledge possible, it doesn’t mean much if customers don’t like being in the store, and Pacific Wave acts accordingly. “Our store is very community oriented here at Pacific Wave and we try our best to treat our guests like family,” says Blackmon. “This store exists because of our customers.”