Roark CEO on New Berkeley Store
We followed up with Roark CEO Ryan Hitzel to find out more about Roark’s new store in Northern California and about Roark’s DTC strategy in the future.
He answered questions for us about the shop and provided photos of the opening party, which included Roark’s new film “The Forgotten Archipelago.” Matt Costa scored the film, and at the opening he played an acoustic set.
Ambassadors Jamie Thomas, Parker Coffin, Nate Zoller, LJ O’Leary and Drew Smith were also on hand for the celebration.
Why open a store in Berkeley?
Ryan Hitzel: Our goal with retail is to find areas where Roark is strong both in the wholesale marketplace and DTC space, but is under-distributed. Northern California is one of our strongest territories, but it’s far from saturated.
Berkeley fits our demographic profile in so many ways and is an amazing city. It’s very active, diverse and progressive-minded with a strong inclination towards the outdoors. It’s also got a wild hair that I’ve always appreciated.
How big is the store and where is it located?
Ryan Hitzel: The Explorers Club is 1,500 square feet and is at 1808 4th Street in Berkeley. It’s a pretty interesting mix of stores in a community setting with public art and Michelin-rated restaurants all mixed with local boutiques, an Apple store, CB2, Nixon and Anthropology amongst others. It’s very special.
And if you’re wondering, we have a few local beers on tap for customers.
What do you guys hope to accomplish with the store?
Ryan Hitzel: It’s a pretty classic omni approach to retail. Roark thrives when the story is told and we have adequate space to merchandise collections. The goal is to have profitable retail that connects the dots between our wholesale partners down the street and our DTC customers that want to interact with our brand, product and ethos.
Proof Lab in Mill Valley, one of our best accounts, helped us open the store. They’re fired up because our store is helping to build their customer in the purest form at full-price. It’s a symbiotic relationship at its best – we’re all invested.
Any more stores planned?
Ryan Hitzel: We’re committed to the strategy and see the pathway clearly. There’s a handful of thriving markets that fit our profile, but we’re being pretty methodical with our search.
I think our consumer and partners will be pleasantly surprised with where The Explorers Club pops up. The nice thing about Roark is that it isn’t bound to the coast. Some of the coolest things happening out there are in places like Denver and Austin. It’s very exciting when the possibilities open up in all types of landscapes.
Did the partnership with OluKai help you guys accomplish this?
Ryan Hitzel: When I shared our plan a few years back with Jim and the OluKai board, they connected with it immediately without hesitation. Their confidence in what Roark can bring to the modern consumer is pretty amazing.
They’ve been able to help strategically and financially, but it’s really been their commitment to our differentiators and vision that’s pushed our footprint forward.