Above: Mikke Pierson, Rich Rubicam, and Todd Roberts of ZJBH.
ZJ Boarding House will be hosting its annual Summer Kick Off Sale this Saturday, June 27 as well as celebrating the opening of Billabong and Hurley partner stores in the two additional spaces ZJ’s formerly occupied. The partnerships between the well-known Santa Monica, California retail outlet with two of its key vendors is something that Todd Roberts, Co-Owner of ZJ Boarding House says is a win-win situation for all parties. TransWorld Business caught up with Roberts earlier this week to find out more about the new stores. Here’s what TR had to say.
How are you guys partnering with Billabong and Hurley on these new stores?
If you’re familiar with Huntington Surf & Sports partnerships, what we’re doing is very similar. That’s the biggest change. We completely demo’d and renovated with the girls building, which is our third building, and our middle building as well. So our middle building will be a partnered store with Billabong, and our third building will be a partnered store with Hurley. That’s the big news really. The way that’s working is that we still own and operate them, but they just give us the incentive to do so.
Who will have control of the store’s design, merchandise mix, et cetera?
Everything that’s being done with the store, from merchandise to design, has been a collaboration. They’ve been very cool about accommodating us, and the product mix is pretty much all agreed upon by all parties. And of course it’s in all our best interests to make the ROI top priority, whether that be a category change or whatever. So they’re going to be working with us very closely on how to make the store run as best it can.
What’s the benefit for the them [Billabong and Hurley]?
The big benefit for them is that they can bring more product to market. They get a place to showcase their brands on the West Side [of L.A.].
We had too much square footage for the amount of business we’re doing now, and then that conversation happened, we talked about it for a long time, and it just made sense that if we partnered up that it would be good for them and good for us. So it’s a win-win.
So it’s going to be run as three different stores?
Well it always has been. The only change in the business model is that the middle store will be full of all of Billabong’s umbrella brands and the third building will have Hurley. We haven’t really worked out the rest of the partner brands that they share, so as of right now it’s just all Hurley.
How did you guys end up with more square footage than you needed?
Well there’s two reasons: snowboarding and the economy. I mean it’s kind of a parallel to what Quikslver has gone through in some ways. We just can’t do the business that we use to because the pie has been divided up so hard and online discounting in snow—we can’t lose money another year in snow, it would drag us under. So we’re going to back way off on snow; to the point where we had enough square footage to accommodate the surf business back in the original building. The only way this really affects ZJ is that we’re back into the store where we originally started. Plus, once I condensed everything into one building and put three stores into one, my numbers didn’t really change that much. I was expecting big loses over the past ten days, but it really hasn’t been that big of a deal.
All three stores will be open on Saturday?
Yeah, we’re doing our big annual summer kick off sale on Saturday and we’re going to have it all open for that.
Will the people you have on staff continue to run those stores?
Yes. we totally own and operate everything. Our staff will remain the staff. I think that’s the pinch hitter for both those brands because we already have a relationship with the community and the local surf business here. All the same people that run ZJ’s will be running these stores.
All the registers still ring the same. Everything is basically the same business except we’re going to have a different product mix.
Do the brands assume some of the store’s costs?
The tough part is when you enter into a partnership like this you sign confidentiality agreements. so we can’t actually discuss the particulars of the deal, But, the incentive is obviously they invest in us and we help them bring product to market. That’s probably the most I can divulge there.
Something like this allows us to stay in our leases, pay our bills, keep our staff, keep the lights on, and actually create something new—we’re pretty excited and proud. We’re just thrilled to be able to continue to move forward and do what we do!