Thursday, January 21, 2010

California Here We Come

After three days of circling Texas, it's off to the left coast, the tornadoes and the torrential rains.

The main purpose behind this trip was to gain as much feedback from top surf and outdoor retailers as we could, and we've been very pleased with the response. We've had some speed bumps along the way - cold-calling a retailer, as someone they've never heard of from a brand they've never heard of, doesn't result in a lot of immediate call backs — but once we've gotten the appointment the result has often been above expectation.

We figured the biggest challenge we'd face would be retailers saying "Why would I bring in your unproven brand, when I have popular brands in here that I know will sell?"

We've heard that from a couple locations, who'd rather wait for consumer demand before they bring in our line, but happily that's been the exception rather than the rule. Retailers have been very responsive to the fact that the sandals are made in the USA, and they like the fact that they're made with an eye to the environment, but the best response has come in regards to the quality of the sandals themselves. Once retailers have the sandals in their hands, once they feel the quality of the materials and construction for themselves, they're sold. And when they slide one on, the fit and comfort often lend to a quick smile. It's a tremendous compliment coming from experienced retailers who specialize in selling the top brands. As we've said before, it doesn't matter how or where a sandal is made if it gives you blisters on vacation...

Overwhelmingly, the majority of shop owners and buyers we've spoken to have happily written letters of intent indicating a willingness to bring our line into their stores when we deliver next year. We expected more pushback and fewer shops anxious to bring in our unproven brand, and we're excited about the anticipation and support we've heard and seen. In all, it's been a very successful trip thus far — better than even we expected.

Now it's on to Southern California to meet with another round of shop owners and to see if it was worth strapping those surfboards to the top of the truck 10 days and 4,000 miles ago (in 12 degree north country weather). According to Al Roker, it's not looking good... Either way, we know the burritos will be good.