Jack’s Surfboards Pro Kicks Off with Lots of Industry Support
Nice sun, no wind, and decent waves in Huntington Beach, California offered a nice start Thursday to the Jack’s Surfboards Pro, drawing nearly 60 industry brands to set up shop on the sand.
“We’re trying to make it a surf festival for the beginning of the summer to create the vibe for the market,” said Jack’s Surfboards partner Bobby Abdel as he passed by the various brand activations.
Billabong, Katin, Stance, Vans, Xcel, RVCA, Sanuk, Nixon, O’Neill, Dragon, Volcom, Hurley, and many more were busy Thursday morning putting the final touches on their brand booths, touting product and games for visitors.
The event, which the Jack’s team has been preparing for since October, is distinct from prior years with a World Surf League Qualifying Series 3000 rating. That’s upgraded from QS1000 in previous years, and means triple the points and triple the prize money for participants.
Scott Waring, owner and founder of the American Pro Surfing Series, estimated the event will draw more than 75,000 visitors, potentially offering a nice bump for Jack’s, other area retailers, and the brands that have event activations.
“The concept of this event is to bring the industry to the sand and have everyone involved,” Waring said. “It allows for the spectators to come down and enjoy themselves, and it’s perfect marketing for the brands.”
That would be welcome foot traffic after a sleepy start to the year, particularly for West Coast retailers hampered by gloomy weather and heavy promotions by some.
Jack’s continues to carry its blend of heritage surf brands, mixed with plenty of emerging or smaller labels, including Duvin, IPD, Former, Rhythm, Brixton, Picture, Katin, Maui and Sons, Stussy, and Avva.
The spring break selling period has been slow over the past month, with heavy rains scaring away tourists. Abdel hopes an uptick in business from the spring break for locals taking place now through next week might help offset the more lackluster start to the year.
“I’ve been 50 years in this business and I’ve never seen it this bad,” Abdel said. “In the ’80s we had two, three weeks of rain, but I’ve never seen anything like this. If it’s not raining, it’s windy. If it’s not windy, it’s cold. If it’s not cold, there’s bad waves. So, it hasn’t been as good for us.”
Abdel and the Jack’s team are uncertain about how the rest of the year could shape up for business. There’s also plenty that Abdel and many others are closely monitoring, including what happens with the U.S. Open of Surfing (which Vans confirmed earlier this year it would not be sponsoring), whether markdowns continue this year, and what happens in the long run with the Boardriders group of brands. When it comes to Boardriders, Abdel hopes distribution doesn’t go mass market.
Ultimately, Abdel’s upbeat, predicting that the Jack’s Surfboards Pro, taking place through this weekend, will help jump-start business and be a nice entry into summer.
“This contest really is not only for Jack’s but for all of surf,” Abdel said, “and we are hoping this will give a little bump for the surf market.”
Kari Hamanaka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.