Styling one of St. Augustine’s most popular beaches with gear, rentals, and lessons Pit Surf Shop holds its own in the realm of surf shops. Established in 2001, the retail location has gained the reputation among locals and tourists alike of having some of the nicest and knowledgeable staff, as well as being the only surf shop in the area with a live camera feed and surf report. TransWorld talked to General Manager Rhys Slaughter and Shop Owner Clint Richardson about the ups, downs, ins, and outs of running Pit Surf Shop.
What inspired you to open up shop?
Clint: Growing up on the east coast of North Carolina, I have always surfed, fished, and enjoyed the ocean. I got away from my roots in my late teens and early 20s and became completely burned out in corporate America. Working for someone else and losing my sanity in the process was never my goal. It is 100 percent true what they say that if you do what you love the money will come, and I put together my passion for surfing, with a keen understanding of business, and the PIT was born.
What is the inventory breakdown in percentages?
Rhys: We are heavily weighted in hard goods, but its no secret you need clothing and accessories to pay the bills. Approximately, 30% boards and accessories, 20% clothing, 15% skate, 15% footwear, 15% shades, and 5% watches.
What is your staff like?
Clint: My goal was to always have the friendliest, most experienced local crew that knows the area and the products we carry. I want them to educate everyone that comes in the shop, whether they buy from us or not. You will not find a friendlier surf staff in the business. It has been very important to me to also have a manager I can trust, and ordering the right supplies for the right time of year. You don't have to have everything under the sun, but you need to have the right gear for your area at the right time.
How has the economy affected your store in recent years?
Rhys: We really have to thank our local clientele, and our amazing out of state customers that continue to do business with us when they are in town. We are one of the few that have experienced positive growth before and during this economic downturn. I will say, though, we have tried to be cautious even while expanding, focusing on the areas we have the most margin, and increasing sales numbers.
What has affected the way you're buying in 2012 versus 2011?
Clint: We have put an emphasis on companies that back the products that they sell. If they commit to merchandising their products well, back the sales, we will go deep with that company and that rep.
Do you have an online store available?
Rhys: Absolutely. It can be found at store.pitsurfshop.com. Everyone in the industry, including manufacturers, try to sell online. It is an absolute must, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't gun shy about dealing with manufacturers that sell directly online.
How do you support or give back to the community, both locally and the industry as a whole?
Clint: We support just about every school, and various churches through donations and give aways. We initiate and support beach cleanups, surf camps, shop events, outdoor movies, cook outs, concerts, and more for all of our locals. Our goal for any event is to be completely family friendly and wholesome. You can bring your kids to any contest, any cook out, and any movie premier and know that they will have a great time.
What is the number one top selling product in the last six months and Brand?
Rhys: As far as boards, JS and DHD Surfboards are neck and neck. The boards ride better, last longer, and have better trade-in value. Clothing is almost always Billabong for us, they have pole position in our shop, and the products are great, RVCA has been a close second. For shades, Spy+ has been number one in the past year, and watches, Nixon is always at the top.
Do you have any teams? Who is on them?
Rhys: We have had surf and skate teams since day one, recently we have streamlined our teams to just a few individuals who are consistent and have the potential to make their hobbies a career. Sean Arthur for example is killing it in contests around the country and has a real future in skateboarding.
At what point do you consider yourself successful?
Clint: Everyone's definition of success is different, but I have realized after much trial and error that I do not feel truly fulfilled, or "successful" unless I am on the path that God has planned for me.
St. Augustine Beach, FL 32080