Ron Jon Leaders on What Worked in 2020 and Plans for 2021
Ron Jon Surf Shop is one of the highest volume accounts in the industry with 12 stores in five states.
We checked in with President Debbie Harvey to see how 2020 turned out and how she thinks business will unfold in 2021.
We also asked General Merchandise Manager Gary Rubin about brands that stood out in 2020 and how he is planning key categories for 2021.
How did 2020 end up overall?
Ron Jon President Debbie Harvey: Overall, 2020 turned out better than we thought back in March. However, it was uneven by store. Some locations exceeded expectations, mainly all those at the beach.
But locations that depend heavily on Florida tourism from theme parks and cruises were more difficult.
What was the biggest surprise?
Debbie Harvey: How strongly business came back in certain locations.
What is your biggest challenge right now?
Debbie Harvey: Planning for 2021. With no spring break for colleges and the pent up demand that happened when we reopened last year, it is very hard to plan our sales flow.
How are you feeling about 2021?
Debbie Harvey: It’s going to be another year of challenges and surprises in business. We will need to remain very flexible.
What brand surprised you the most as far as performing strongly in 2020?
GMM Gary Rubin: Not necessarily a surprise but Salty Crew, Vans, and Rip Curl were all up in 2020 from a great year in 2019.
Also, the Dr. Seuss collaboration from Billabong for holiday was stellar.
What major category are you increasing orders in for 2021?
Gary Rubin: We will continue to write hardgoods increases as long as we can find goods.
Also, we continue to plan fleece in all families of business way up.
How are you planning swim for spring 2021 given the spring break uncertainty?
Gary Rubin: Basically, we are planning all swimwear slightly up from our 2019 numbers. We also placed additional goods in Ron Jon swim for protection against potential shipping issues for brands in Q1.
Have any vendors knocked you socks off with great customer service during the pandemic?
Gary Rubin: I think every brand did whatever they could do to ship product, but the ones that could get it to us did the best.
One new vendor that has a very interesting business model for private label and was able to turn product in 45 days is Slant Six.
They have small minimums and nice quality – straw hats, wovens, and towels. They are working on swim.
Editor’s note: See our previous story about how other core retailers performed in 2020.