Run by a team of passionate snowboarders, Tribal Riders in Norwich, England was opened in 2011 by husband and wife Matt and Sara. The store has gone from strength to strength, stocking some of the biggest names and highest quality gear in boardsports. SOURCE has spoken with owner Sara Jeffery, to hear a little more about their successes.
Please give us a brief history of your store; including when it was started, who started it, who the owners and key players are.
Our Norwich store was opened in 2011 by my husband, Matt, and myself. We are both truly passionate about winter sports. We’ve grown over the years and currently have an awesome shop crew who are all snowboarders. Between us, we test out our snowboard hardware ranges so customers get the best, first hand knowledge. We work closely with all our brands and are proud to be a core independent, selected dealer for Burton, Union, Capita, Quiksilver, Roxy, GNU & Rip Curl, meaning we get access to limited release collections.
What percentage of your sales are from online business compared to your brick-and-mortar sales?
Currently our sales are about 70% brick-and-mortar, 30% Online. Interestingly we deal with customers a lot over the phone too, so we can give advice and talk through options which is really important when it comes to boards, for example.
What are five products you couldn’t live without right now?
The Burton Lexa Bindings for myself. I simply can’t get off these bindings – for girls that want to shred all over the mountain, they are wicked. A good snowboard wax… Ben, our assistant manager, is responsible for our in-store servicing and swears by Oneball Jay Wax.
Matthew swears by his Sandbox helmet, we just can’t get enough of their low profile, great coloured styles.
Another is the Black Eye lenses. We have a mixture of fish eye and wide-angle in store and they just make your photo posts look even better! And lastly, I’d say Magne-traction! Mervin manufacturing have put Magne-traction on nearly all of their Lib Tech, Roxy and GNU Snowboards.
Did your store’s sales increase or decrease over last year? To what do you attribute your gain or loss in sales?
Sales have been on a pretty even keel this year compared to last year actually, which is good really considering last winter didn’t produce the best snow conditions, so here’s to it dumping this season!
What makes your store different and in what ways does your store excel beyond your competition?
Probably the trips that we run. We began running trips before we had the store and this is something that gets bigger each year. We have a UK exclusive deal with SnowWorld in Holland; it’s got wicked slopes, park and even a chairlift and is the perfect place for our coaching and demo testing trips. We often find that customers hit a bit of a plateau with their riding and we like to show people just how much fun you can have on a board, at whatever level. We run them in the summer months too so it helps avoid any snow blues.
How do you stay in touch with the wants and needs of your customers?
We have a loyal following who we like to call our Tribe. We stay in touch with them via social media and also do free events and personal shopping appointments. I’ve worked with some of the female brands quite a bit too, giving them feedback. I think our Tribe get as excited as we do about what’s coming next season and we often ask them for feedback and opinions too, so we are definitely a ‘peoples’ shop.
What kind of advice can you give other independent retailers who are trying to compete against the big box megastores?
Get close to your core customers, they’re there to support the store because they love what you’re doing, so don’t lose sight of your regulars. I’d also say branding is really important too, we put a lot of work in to our branding to establish a unique identity and there’s nothing better than seeing people sporting your logo. We also have our staff in a Tribal tee complete with their name on the back, and we’ve found customers like being able to identify who actually works in the shop.
Does your store sponsor athletes, competitions, etc? What are the benefits to the store and to the boardsports community?
We sponsor riders, in fact we sponsored ‘Nibs’ (a fantastic talent at our local dry slope) as soon as we opened Tribal Riders which had never been done in our area before. We felt that not only do some of these riders deserve sponsorship, but they also become a kind of brand ambassador for us, reaching a wider range of people and spreading the Tribe even further.