August is a beastly month in the mid-atlantic. No matter where you go the dreaded inconvenience of summer's end is constantly propping it's head up. At your local shops all the winter gear begins pushing summery goodness and lazy days aside while massive cardboard boxes roll in. At work everybody is snagging their fleeting days of vacation so nothing gets done. Meanwhile, out on the roads, the school bus driver training is in effect and those giant banana colored-diesel swilling-turds clog up the roads in doing so they will inevitably slow down traffic to a screeching halt. Hooray the kids are going back to school. Yes, back to school is every retailers wet dream and every 20 year old paid by the hour flunkies worst nightmare. welcome to that time of year when Mothers hand over their credit cards and kids begin their hunt for something, no anything that will set them apart from the crowd, But, these all important purchases will still somehow allow them to blend in seamlessly. Think stepford wives but only with Pac Sun, Zumiez and that debacle of a store Hollister instead of 50's kitsch. Not this year though. No, for the first time in many, many a year back to school sales are down in most areas and flat in those not heavily hit back the economic crunch. Loosely translated: People aren't spending money.
So what's next? What happens now? Well, the answer is simple really. Retailers will sit on lots of gear until it goes stale and eventually they decide to mark it down. Another option is they can extend sales and try to drive feet in the door while pushing product out. The smart ones will have purchased accordingly in their due dilligence they forecasted correctly. The consumer side will be a bit different. Consumers now are going to flock to the web looking for free shipping and already reduced markdowns. This is where we get to the heart of this post. Where are you buying online? After doing a little sniffing around It's safe to say that most tractions are coming from a few areas. We'll call them the big three, no four!. I think it's worth while talking about them because honestly...nobody else is. That being said if this is where you all are spending your money then it should be discussed. What does this mean to the core skateshop . Not a whole lot but the game is changing and if you want to stay in business you better figure out how your customer base is changing as well. Now lets look at who's doing what out there in interweb land to keep the people geared up for less.
Skate Park of Tampa
Now, I'm not just saying this but "I heart Skate Park of Tampa". Now that we have my unprofessional bias out of the way lets talk about how smart they are. Not only do these guys use the web to show off photos of all the great places they get to go as part of SPoTlight productions but they use it to push merchandise non stop. For their back to school sale they simply pulled together the most discounted stuff in the list and pushed that out to their front page. Considering they get more traffic than god how do you think their sell through rate went? I'd say it was probably pretty fucking good. Lesson to all you core shops: Get an e-commerce system up and running. If you are not selling online then you are an idiot. Who cares if a kid in Nebraska buys your Huntington Beach shop shirt. You just made a sale. All you penny pinchers. Check the link.
OK, in the past week I've found several retailers who are selling through ebay stores. Also, all the f*cking sneaker heads must have had two year adjustable rate mortgages because there is some non stop sneaker dumping going on. I'm not sure who needs cash this fast. Nobody I know but, there has been a clearing house going on for Nike SB, Lakai and a few other brands over on the bay. If you are in need of new shoes this should be your first stop.
Backcountry, Dogfunk, Tramdock, Steep and Cheap, Whiskey Militia
Oh you silly funny Park City folk. I have no clue how this company is set up on the inside all I know is there have been a few purchases made on my part where these guys had to be losing money. On Any given day you can be surfing these sites and manage to find something priced a little bit too low.Vox Hewitts for $18 on Whiskey Militia or Steep and Cheap? Sure. Lakai's for $28 on backcountryoutlet.com ... hey why not. Funny, Lakai won't open my buddies shop but they sell their "core" shoes to backcountry.com. Totally core bro. Totally. Oh by the way that blinding white flash was sarcasm. But really, being very honest I love the fact that these guys a e out there.
Have a vendetta against anybody who is too core for school well...just buy here. later you can laugh when they're bragging about how they just paid $30 over MSRP at the local boutique shop. The best reason though is these guys can hook it up if you are really on tight budget. Bottom line the companies listed below are doing all of us with less dollars a big favor.
People can bash Shuan White till the end of time but I say "good for him" on going into Target. It's affordable, it's everywhere and hey if Shaun is getting paid that's fine by me. Maybe one day 'Blargin' will pay as good as being Shaun White. Not likely.
So what's the point here? My point is this: the economy sucks right now. Sure, it would be nice if all the companies out there selling product that support actions sports and lifestyle could get paid. But, gasoline is still near $4 a gallon, the price of food has gone up and the job market is shrinking. That doesn't mean you can't make your dollar work for you in a weak economy. That type of attitude will get you nothing but a van down by the river. Rough economic times are always interesting because those companies who are resourceful rise to the top and those who are not.... well, they never really mattered anyway now do they? Consumers will migrate to the best deal. So, as you head back to school or to work or to where ever you spend your day the information to tackle the crap-conomy head on is now in your hands. Dig it.