The Rip Curl Pro Store in Warsaw, was opened in October of 2014, by childhood friends Paweł Wasiński and Wojtek Sudwoj. The store are also the Polish distributors for Globe and FCS, and are a real hub for the Polish boardsports community.
Please give a brief history of your store including when it was started, who started it, who the owners and key players are.
We opened the Rip Curl Pro Store in Warsaw, Poland in October 2014, and the store is managed by childhood friends Paweł Wasiński and Wojtek Sudwoj, who had both grown up with dreams of working in the boardsports industry. Our team is made up of young employees, all of which are in love with extreme sports; so we have the likes of surfers, skaters and snowboarders working with us.
What percentage of your sales are from online business compared to your brick-and-mortar sales?
We will be opening ripcurlprostore.pl in a few days time, so stay turned!
What are the benefits of having a physical shop over simply having an online store?
Our store is inseparably connected with our distribution. We are polish distributors of Rip Curl, Globe and FCS. So at first, we thought about using the Rip Curl Pro Store to represent our other brands, but it already works so well as an independent retailer.
We have our office, magazine, showroom and flagship store all in one place, so our physical store is actually more than just a store!
We find that having a physical store is also a much better place for selling technical or expensive products like wetsuits, surf boards and snowboards etc.
It’s also great for meeting the customers face to face, as they’re interested in the same things as us; so you can grab a coffee with them, talk about swell on Cape Verde and maybe then you can sell them something. A physical shop, rather than an online one, is perfect for creating a community amongst the customers and our team.
What are five products you couldn’t live without right now?
1. Rip Curl Wetsuits
2. Globe Skateboards
3. Rip Curl Surf Boards
4. FCS fins
5. SPY shades
What are your secrets for selling high-end products?
As I mentioned earlier, our staff are no coincidence, everyone who works in the Rip Curl Pro Store is stoked on surfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, kite surfing, windsurfing… So we have a really professional crew. I believe good product knowledge, personal interaction and having an individual approach to the customer are the most important aspects of selling high-end products.
Did your store’s sales increase or decrease over last year? To what do you attribute your gain or loss in sales?
Our store’s sales increased over last year but our profit decreased. We had big sales this year because of two big orders that we made last year, but then we had two huge expenses for our marketing, which wasn’t very well conducted. We had to totally re-evaluate our selling and marketing strategy and now everything is going in the right direction. So we did in fact have a big turnover… but not that big of a profit this time.
What makes your store different and in what ways does your store excel beyond your competition?
There are no other real surf shops in Warsaw that sell surfboards and surf equipment. We also have mini ramp in our shop which is always open for everyone and most Saturdays we have events on, such as watching surf and snow movies, and having skate jams or skate trainings for kids with the Globe skateboarding team. We also have a strong, well-developed social media platform, which helps us excel.
How do you stay in touch with the wants and needs of your customers?
We get a lot of feedback via social media, and we also talk a lot with our team riders about new directions of our key sports developments. We try to always keep an eye on what’s going on in the world’s boardsports industry.
We also have secret sample exhibitions for friends, opinion leaders and key influencers, and they help by advising us on what we should order to meet the needs of the public.
What kind of advice can you give other independent retailers who are trying to compete against the big box megastores?
Do not go on a price war with them; you will always lose. The key is to have to have well selected products that are of a high quality alongside some rare models or brands, and cool collaborations that are unique.
It’s really important to have competent staff too; as this will be your biggest advantage over megastores, where they probably employ staff with little or no knowledge of the products. It’s also important to have a great atmosphere in the store; being family friendly and giving discount cards to regular customers, or having a chill out area where your customers can grab a free coffee and chat, or have a mini ramp! Your customers want to pay more for the best, so give them more reason to.
Does your store sponsor athletes, competitions, etc? If so, what are the benefits to the store and to the boardsports community?
Sure, we have our Globe skateboarding team and the Rip Curl team too. We sponsor professional athletes such as Helena Brochocka (kitesurfer), Marcin Pośpiech (freestyle skier), Adrian Smardz (snowboarder) and we have our Local Hero program, which is where we support young locals. We recently sponsored the Polish Surfing Challenge and some other smaller competitions too.
We believe that sport is the sole of our business; and so we can’t imagine not assisting and supporting the development of action sports in Poland. And of course, sponsoring cool competitions and successful athletes will help to promote our store to the general public. For us, it’s all about sport, nature and amazing people.