Nomad Surf Shop in Hendaye started as a big dream to target a niche market in the Basque Country, aiming to provide expertise, passion and technical knowledge to an area which was deemed a beginners surf spot. Eight years later, specialising in both surf and skate equipment, business is better than ever, so we spoke to Nomad’s Jeremy Jouhaud to find out a little more about Nomad’s success.
Please give a brief history of your store including when it was started, who started it, who the owners and key players are.
I created Nomad Surf Shop in 2006. After being on the road for six years – working in a ski resort in the winter and surfing on the Atlantic coast the rest of the year – I decided it was time to settle down and make a life time dream come true and open a surf shop. My best friend used to live in Hendaye, Basque Country, and told me it was a perfect place to open a shop because there was an influx of surfers, no surf shops back then, only two great shapers and a couple of surf schools. People told me I was a bit crazy because I wanted my shop to be a technical store (not just another t-shirt store) and Hendaye was only known as a beginners surf spot. But after a couple of years, it was clear I made the right choice.
What are the benefits of having a physical shop over simply having an online store?
It’s crucial to have real contact with customers; to help them make the right choices when it comes to buying technical items. For the customer, having good advice at the right moment can be the difference between giving up a sport they feel that they can’t progress at, or having a life long relationship with the sport. Talking to passionate skateboarders and surfers in my local shops when I was 10 or 12 years old changed my life forever. Online shops won’t ever do this for anyone, they sell equipment, not passion.
What trends have you noticed for Summer 2015?
Longboard sales are changing a bit this year. Top of the range brand sales are decreasing a bit and cheap boards are doing the same, meaning that mid-range is increasing a lot. Surfboards are getting shorter and wider every year, which is a good thing, because people always want shorter boards than what they’re actually able to surf. With theses types of boards, it’s easier to find the balance between what they want and what they need.
Please break down what your policy is regarding sales.
We are not salesmen, we are technicians. That means if you know what you’re talking about (that means the technical specification of each item you sell, the history of the brand as well as the latest innovations) there’s no need to be a good seller. People will trust you and things will sell by themselves.
Which products/brands are you most looking forward to stocking for Spring/Summer 2016?
I started my own skateboard/longboard brand three years ago – Eat The Beatume – and it’s getting better every year. Every winter I challenge myself to find new designs and new features for my boards while retaining a local supplier and low prices (boards are made local here in the Basque Country). That keeps my mind pretty busy and very excited until each new collection is released.
Do you have a specific schedule for posting product on social media?
I’m not a social media maniac. I try to keep the shop’s website as up to date as I can, but we won’t post pictures and videos everyday on social networks. Our website’s goal is to give customers all the information they need to get to the shop and have a real chat with us.
What kind of advice can you give other independent retailers who are trying to compete against the big box megastores?
People’s minds are really changing towards megastores and big companies. People want more little shops, locals companies, quality products and EXPERTS to sell it. Independent retailers have to choose their suppliers carefully and be specialists on everything they sell; that’s what makes the difference between us and them. But don’t forget that each time a megastore sells a board to a beginner, he may be a future customer of your shop! A lot of people will buy their first skate or surfboard there… and that creates new riders who will eventually end up in a real board store, when they want a good board.