Volcom has sold its remaining Laguna Surf & Sport store to some familiar faces: LSS Founder and former Global VP of Retail Eric John, former Volcom CEO Jason Steris, who started his career at LSS, and longtime LSS manager Jason Watson.
Eric, who opened Laguna Surf & Sport in 1982, sold it to Volcom in 2008. He previously had sold and bought it back from Swell.
Volcom North American President Kevin Meehan said the sale, especially to Eric and the two Jasons, made sense. A multi-brand store like LSS doesn’t quite fit with Volcom’s mono-brand retail strategy, and people with an intimate connection with LSS wanted to buy it.
“It’s win-win,” Kevin said. “It wasn’t right in our wheelhouse, and there were great buyers who could shepherd LSS forward,” Kevin said.
Volcom will remain the primary brand in the store, Kevin said.
Eric John said he and his partners wanted to buy the store back for several reasons, including that it is an important institution in Laguna Beach, their hometown.
He used the analogy of the local hardware store. Every community across America used to have one, and it served as a gathering place and helped connect a town together. When Home Depot and Lowe’s came on the scene, something was lost, he said.
Eric described the purchase of LSS as an emotional decision, rather than an investment based on a spreadsheet.
While retail is tough at the moment, “I want to go down swinging,” he said. “I think there’s value in having a local store, and there are some changes for the good happening, like our ability to reach our end consumer right between the eyes with no money. That can allow us to tell our story more effectively, and if we can do that, it will resonate with our bosses, which are the consumers.”
“I’m super stoked to get back LSS,” he added.
Eric, Jason Watson and Jason’s wife, Jessica, also own The Shop Laguna Beach, a women’s boutique that Eric said is doing quite well.
For its part, Volcom is focusing on a mono-brand strategy when it comes to company retail, and will open a store in the newly expanded Disney Springs shopping and entertainment center in Orlando next week.
After that opening, no other new stores are on the immediate horizon, Kevin said, and Volcom will be sprucing up its current store fleet.