EDITOR’S NOTE: Our Retail Wednesdays series profiles a different specialty retailer each week, in an effort to spotlight success stories and gain insight from shops that are continuing to grow in the face of a challenging economy. This profile is powered by our friends at Building The Revolution.

hobie surf shops
The Hobie crew

Retailer: Hobie Surf Shops
Location: San Clemente, Dana Point, Laguna Beach and Corona Del Mar
Years in Business: Since 1954
Interviewee: Jake Schwaner
Job Title: Managing Partner

How has business been so far in 2017?

Business has been good with the exception of February when we got all of the cold weather and rain.

Brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling, in part because of the growth of e-commerce. Is the traditional retail model broken?

I think the traditional model of retail is definitely going through some dramatic change for sure. Is brick and mortar struggling or doomed? I think the retailers that might be struggling would be the traditional ones. The retailers that find it really fun are the visionaries that embrace the change that is happening right in front of our eyes. There is a new retail revolution going on and the ones that can see that and embrace it will lead the way. E-commerce is here to stay and as “Specialty Retailers” you better be authentic, innovative in your thinking, selective in your product offering, and provide an experience that will blow consumer minds.

What types of specialty retailers do you feel are leading the charge on retail innovation? Who are you drawing inspirations from?

Quite honestly I don’t see too much innovation going on out there in our specific type of specialty “surf shop” retail. Our industry seems to be a little dazed and confused and looking for direction. Not to say we have all the answers, but we travel and shop. We visit and take inspiration from the Patagonia retail stores and really like how they show that you really can buy better, consume less and maintain sustainability top to bottom.

We also visit and look at niche boutiques from Abbott Kinney and the new trendy hipster type of outdoor malls. We also like what Proof Lab in Marin is doing and Sawyers Supply in Santa Cruz. We are heading up to Tofino, Canada, here soon and heard there is some fun things going on up there, too. Whenever we travel to other coastal and mountain towns we usually find someone who…