Surf Diva takes different merchandising approach
Editor’s note: Shelby Stanger originally wrote this story as a buyer profile for Surf Expo. We updated it with some details about what’s selling at Surf Diva, and how holiday sales turned out. Shelby also teaches surfing at Surf Diva.
Surf Diva Surf Shop in La Jolla, California boasts more estrogen than just about any surf shop in the world.
Mostly known as the original all girls’ surf school, Surf Diva also has a buzzing retail shop located just a few hundred yards from where students catch their first wave.
While most students come in to the shop high off adrenaline (and converted from office warriors to weekend chargers), having the school out front is only one of the reasons the shop has had so much success.
“We’re a surf boutique with a really unique mix of brands,” says Co-Owner Coco Tihanyi, who runs the shop while her twin sister, Izzy, runs the school.
“We sell surf hardgoods, better sunglasses, rashguards, boardshorts for surfing and paddleboarding, wetsuits and swimsuits, and we also carry high-end dresses and anything that makes you a surf diva from morning to night.”
The shop features well known brands like Hurley, DC, Sanuk, Lucy Love, Vans and Toms, but they also carry a lot of smaller brands like Indah and Desigual, and local San Diego brands like Head Hunter sunscreen, Surf Monkey (from the old Mexico surf trophies), Surfer Baby, Mimi and Lu jewelry, Paradise Princess little girls swimsuits, and a new brand called Lorelei that makes athletic swimsuits with pictures of La Jolla Cove.
The shop itself is literally steps from the beach. Their concrete aqua floor has seashells embedded inside, making it okay for customers to come in straight from the sand.
“It’s a shop where you can come in dripping wet in a swimsuit, and walk out with a new bikini and a Maxi dress,” says Coco, adding that was exactly what actress Sharon Stone, whose son attended their La Jolla Surf Camp for Kids, did this past summer.
Rather than merchandise by brand with huge build outs, Surf Diva features clothes by color and style. “We merchandise from shoes and from the bottom up whereas guys might merchandise from hats or from the top down,” says Coco, whose buying team is diligent about their merchandising boards.
The Surf Divas buy collections to go together so girls can mix and match. They also have a wide assortment so a kid can come in and buy a $5 friendship bracelet while their mom can get a $200 bikini or even a $900 surfboard.
Surf Diva’s Coco and Izzy Tihanyi reviewing lines at a trade show.
The shop mostly attracts women, but guys come in with wives and spouses and usually pick up something for themselves as well. “We have a token guys rack in the back,” laughs Izzy.
Kidding aside, the shop prides itself on its community atmosphere. Locals and former surf school students come in to talk story, and the Divas put on community events all year long that cater to entire families (they carry onesies and clothes for toddlers as well).
Retail Therapy nights allow customers to give back to charities and offer catered food, wine and a DJ. They also do events with brands, local businesses and usually have at least one to two mainstream TV shows filming there a month.
Besides the look and feel of the shop, Coco says most people come in just because the shop is so welcoming: “None of our girls stand behind the counter. We greet you, talk story, compliment you on your purse and find out where you are surfing next.”