Moment Surf Co. Launches Online Store & Increases Business During Offseason
Name: Moment Surf Company
Location: 33260 Cape Kiwanda Drive, Pacific City Oregon
Owner/Managers: Jeff Mollencop and Ben Johnson
# of Storefronts: 1 Surf Shop, 1 Restaurant
Square Footage: 750 surf shop, 750 restaurant
Opened in March 2010 by Jeff Mollencop and Ben Johnson, Moment Surf Co. was created out of their love and passion for surfing. Located in Pacific City, the area has seen a growing surfing community in the past decade. Having previously owned small businesses, the two realized the need for a core surf shop in town and decided it was a good time to open a shop. Not your average surf shop, the founders simultaneously opened BJ’s (Ben and Jeff) Burgers & Tacos which is located inside the same building. Just steps away from the beach, Moment Surf Co. is the go-to shop for local surfers and beachgoers that frequent Pacific City.
Before surfers ever began riding the waves off Cape Kiwanda at Pacific City, fisherman were braving these shore breaks to reach the open ocean. The first dory boats were built at the beginning of the 20th century by commercial fisherman selling salmon to the local cannery. Having no port or harbor, commercial fisherman needed another way to enter the open ocean. What they constructed was a dory boat, a flat-bottom boat that takes off straight from the beach through the waves. Truly unique, there is no other fishing fleet in the world like the Pacific City dory boats. Sharing the same beach as surfers, this has created a unique surf culture unlike any other beach. The dorymen and surfing community work together to make their shared space safe for all user groups.
The unique surf culture has led to an equally unique surf retail scene. We sat down with Mollencop to discuss starting the business, staying afloat during the offseason, launching an e-commerce store this past year, and what lies ahead for Moment Surf Co.
Background: I loved Pacific City and had a home here for a while. Seeing the popularity of this town continue to grow, I thought it was a good time to open a shop. Nobody was doing quick, affordable, surf inspired food either. So the idea of the restaurant was born and thought that could help with cash flow during the offseason.
What were you doing before: I was a commercial real estate broker. Prior to that I owned a small business in Bend, Oregon for about 9 years. I also was a silent partner in a surf shop in Portland for a few years and a restaurant for about 6. So all these things gave me the experience and confidence to do this business.
How would you describe your shop and what are we know for: We are a shop for every surfer. From the beginner taking his first lesson to a lifelong surfer, we've got you covered. A friendly and knowledgeable staff who are here to help you with whatever you need.
How many employees do you have: It varies depending on the time of year, but generally 5 in the surf shop and 5 in the restaurant.
Last year we stayed open during the winter for the first time. This year we launched our e-commerce store which we hope will help cash flow during the off season. -Moment Surf Co. owner Jeff Mollencop on recent shop milestones
How do you retain good employees: Everybody that works in the surf shop is a surfer and wants to be here and live on the coast. We have a fun work environment and have become a family. Free fish tacos from our restaurant probably helps too!
Key Milestones since we opened: Last year we stayed open during the winter for the first time. This year we launched our e-commerce store which we hope will help cash flow during the off season.
Percentage of business online vs. Brick and Mortar: We just launched our online store, but very happy with the way it's going!
Do you operate a private label brand: Yes, it's a significant percentage of our clothing sales and continues to increase each year.
Customers: 10% local surfers, 20% weekend surfers, 30% beginner surfers, 40% tourist
Current product mix: We are on the beach, but it's still Oregon. So lots of 5/4 wetsuits, sweatshirts, hats and beanies, longboards, eggs and shortboards.
Percentage breakdown of products: Hardgoods: 20%, men's apparel: 25%, women's apparel: 25%, footwear: 15%, accessories: 15%
What brands have you carried the longest: O'Neill, Xcel, Lost, Quiksilver, and Roxy
3 most profitable product categories: Hats, Sweatshirts, Sandals
Best Selling Brand over the past 6 months: Billabong
Impression of the local market: Growing!
What are brands doing to help our business: Supporting their own local reps who in turn give us better service.
Brands that stand out: Volcom, Billabong, and Xcel
Best overall brand "partner" since you opened: Volcom has been huge on both the men's and women's apparel side! Can't also thank Xcel and O'Neill enough on the neoprene side.
How have you altered the way you buy over the past few seasons: Our women's apparel is probably growing the fastest, my girlfriend is helping me a ton with that. We have been putting more dollars into this category for sure.
Are you altering the way you buy for next year: Yes, more neoprene and surf accessories for our website.
Are there any profound trends that you're noticing right now in your region: More women in the water!
My expectations for the business over the next 1-3 years: Continued growth in our brick and mortar store and restaurant, and hopefully substantial growth in our e-commerce store.
Where are our best margins: rentals and lessons
What brands are consumers coming in and asking for the most: FCD Surfboards and Future Fins
What new brands are gaining traction: Neither are new, but the collaboration between Lost Surfboards and Lib-Tech (the Puddle Jumper) has been super successful for us!
Name the top 3 reps and what makes them special: Neill Barker with O'Neill, Colin Anderson with Billabong, and Alex Cazanas with Xcel. All three of them are always supporting the events we put on here at the shop and have taken special attention to learn what works best at our shop, not just what works for them.
One key lesson I learned through running the shop: Hire good people and take care of them.
Top concern for your business or our industry: The continued reduction of the number of local surf/snow/skate shops. They are the heartbeat of our industry.
What makes you optimistic about your business and our industry: Buying a new surfboard is still one of the greatest feelings in the world!
What are the standout events that you run: This summer we will be putting on the 17th Annual Cape Kiwanda Longboard Classic. In the Fall, we’ll be running the 3rd Annual Moment of Madness Shortboard Contest.
The 2014 Burrito Retro Classic brought to you by Moment Surf Co. along with BJ’s Burgers & Tacos
Do you expect your business to grow over the next year? Very optimistic, Pacific City continues to get more popular and hopefully our e-commerce business takes off.
Are you considering expanding or opening an additional location? No, all efforts are going into our website.
Last specific moment that really made you love you job: Today, took a 2-hour surf break and came back to a busy shop!
Do you sponsor a shop team: Yes! Tony Perez and Jeremy Rasmussen are our standouts. Lars Campos and Logan Weeks are our good vibes representatives. Kai Huggin, Brody Winger and Justin Buford are our groms.
For more information check out the Moment Surf Co. website