Does this bikini make my butt look big?
What do you think of this dress?
Should I wear a belt with this?
This is typical dressing room conversation at South Coast Wahines’ new all–girls surf shop in Ocean Beach, Calif.
While the junior’s business remains challenging in some areas, women are clearly shopping, at least at South Coast, which opened a second all-girls shop in San Diego recently.
Looking around at the new 1,200 square foot space, it was evident that the girls shopping stayed longer and talked about things they probably wouldn’t in front of a bunch of shop guys – how bums fit in bikini bottoms, how low or high jeans are cut, how comfy tees are, and which shoes and belt match which outfit.
“When a girl comes out in a bikini, it can be pretty uncomfortable to have a ton of guys around staring at them,” said Heather Shields, a longtime South Coast buyer and advocate of the new shop.
“I think for girls there is a comfort level with other women to talk about how things fit. In turn we can offer suggestions about how something might work on a customer’s body type – these are things that the boys normally don’t talk about.”
The shop takes the space of South Coast Longboards. It’s four doors down from South Coast’s main shop on Newport Avenue, a busy shopping street that leads directly into Ocean Beach near the main pier. In Pacific Beach, South Coast also owns South Coast Surf Shop PB, and South Coast Wahines, which is on the Crystal Pier.
I sat down with Heather in the newest all girls store to talk about how the shop came to be, what makes it so different than the men’s store and why she thinks her Junior’s business is healthy.
It was one of those things I never thought would happen. When I got the green light, I was so excited. I have actually been begging for it for about seven years. I started working here 23 years ago, and worked my way up to buying for both the men’s and women’s side.
Yes, at South Coast Longboards we carried longboards, and brands like OP, Birdwell’s, Quiksilver Waterman’s Collection and more. It was great for its time but slowly it started to fade away. In April, we took all of the men’s stuff and put it into the main store, and we decided to put all the girls stuff in its own space.
We had 420 square feet dedicated to women in the main store in OB and now we have 1,200 square feet for our own shop. We had such a good profit happening in that 420 square feet in the main shop, we figured if we could triple that, we’d be doing really well.
It’s more of a surf boutique than a surf shop. We carry little girls’ products all the way to products for adult women. We pretty much wanted to capture kids from infancy and keep them through adulthood. If we get the little girls coming in and they surf and come back and feel that sense of camaraderie, they’ll keep coming back.
So far the shop has been amazing! We have even beaten the men’s main store’s sales. When that happened the first time, I was dancing around. In the first month it already did 25% more than the longboard store and it’s not even summer yet.
During summer, it’s going to be game on. If the weather stays sunny it’s going to be amazing. We are really weather-driven so its imperative the weather goes well this summer.
See Page 2 for more about South Coast's strategy