SURF/ TURTLE SURF SHOP/ ANDORA, ITALY/
Turtle Surf Shop founder Paolo is quite the character, and Source has sat down with him to find out more about his Italian Surf Shop. Turtle has quickly built up a strong rep for their wealth of product knowledge, which accompanies their large product line. Read on for Paolo’s industry insight.
Please give a brief history of your store including when it was started, who started it, who the owners and key players are.
Ciao, I’m Paolo Colombini, the owner and the creator of Turtle Surf Shop in 2008. My team mates are Danilo Pianese (DH skater), Filiippo Orso (pro surfer and surf coach) and Tobia Filiossi (surfer & skater).
What percentage of your sales are from online business compared to your brick-and-mortar sales?
Online is only 10% because people still prefer to come and see boards, equipment and all our other products in store.
What are the benefits of having a physical shop over simply having an online store?
People can come and try wetsuits, see surfboards, touch them and then, the most important thing, people can talk and discuss their needs with us. We have so many boards and goods, which is why it is better to come and see all of them. Online, customers can get lost and not perhaps not find the product they need.
What are five products you couldn’t live without right now?
C-skins wetsuits, Carver skateboards, Vans shoes, Patagonia outerwear, Creatures of Leisure surfing accessories.
What are your secrets for selling high-end products?
To know the product inside out, and to have the confidence to put your name and integrity behind the product.
Are new lines important to your product mix? Why or why not?
They can help, but in the growing of a selected crew of customers they aren’t the be all and end all.
Did your store’s sales increase or decrease over last year?
The clothing side decreased due to the general situation, but the technical side increased due to the fact that now we’re one of the top 3 surf shop in Italy for numbers of boards and our product knowledge reputation is growing like wildfire.
What makes your store different and in what ways does your store excel beyond your competition?
I’ve got everything a surfer looks for. Because I’m a surfer and I know what we need and my team help me a lot in that. In surf and skate too, we do a lot of product research and testing, and our customers appreciate this.
How do you stay in touch with the wants and needs of your customers?
Mail, telephone, surfing together with customers. I’m always available for helping them.
What trends do you see upcoming in surf?
From the hipster side to the tall and skinny evolution of the fit.. Everything has to be unique and “likeable” in social media…
What kind of advice can you give other independent retailers who are trying to compete against the big box megastores?
Sell what they don’t have, put your face so they can trust YOU!
Does your store sponsor athletes, competitions, etc? If so, what are the benefits to the store and to the boardsports community?
We support our team of athletes, because they are friends. Danilo is a good athlete and we try to give him what he needs to have fun and possibly win contests etc. Its the same thing in surfing with Filippo. We organize a surf contest almost every year, but the goal is the same: HAVE FUN! And in return these athletes help me sell these products by putting their name to them and backing them. It’s a pleasure for me to see my shop name in competitions but it didn’t bring more customers, it’s the team that does that. We’re a family.
If you could go back five years what would you do differently?
Nothing, we’re still here because we’re doing well and we did well in our choices.