IASC Update August 1999

“A penny saved is a penny earned” is a very old and wise saying. When applied to your business, it can not only save you money but increase your profits as well. Getting a handle on how you spend your “to-buy dollars” and mark up your product is very important to the success of your business. With more competition and shrinking profit margins on some products, you need to pay close attention to your bottom line. To start economizing you need to be proactive and make a solid commitment. Make your money work for you, and you’ll soon be reaping the benefits. Here are a few ways to stretch your buying dollars and make the most of them.

One of the easiest ways to save money on goods and maximize your profit is to take advantage of prebooking and/or trade-show discounts. Many companies will offer percentage-based discounts for placing orders in advance of product availability. Prebooking shows your commitment to buy, and allows companies to better forecast their production. As an incentive, they may offer discounts from as little as two percent to as much as fifteen percent off the regular wholesale price. Keep in mind that these discounts are designed to increase your margins and need not be passed on to your customers. Prebook deals expire after a certain date, and reorders for the same product will not carry the same discounts.

Another way to maximize savings is to take advantage of quantity discounts. Warehouse superstores work in this same manner: the more you buy, the better the price. As a skateboard retailer you need to be aware of these discounts. They work best and carry the least risk on staple shop supplies. “Items like griptape, bearings, and hardware are a necessity to run the skate department and never become outdated,” says Shane Driskill, skate buyer for Wave Riding Vehicles in Virginia Beach, Virginia. “By buying in large quantities, we get the best margins on products that we use every day.”

Quantity discounts can work with products other than shop supplies, but the benefits should be considered carefully. If the product becomes outdated and must eventually be discounted, the benefits hardly worth the savings, and they could end up costing you money.

Ask your sales rep about split shipments, and if quantity discounts still apply. If they do, you can take advantage of the discount but take delivery of the product in intervals. You may also be able to pay in installments.

Many retailers live and die by their net terms. Terms offer two major advantages in your quest to save money and maximize your margins. From the start, a net term can save you the C.O.D. fee on the shipment¿usually a minimum of five dollars per box. Depending on how many shipments you receive per year, this can add 500 or more dollars per year to your gross profit.

The other advantage that terms offer is the ability to sell the merchandise before you pay for it. If a product has a typical markup of 100 percent, selling just half the merchandise will cover your wholesale cost. “Net terms allow the retailer to float the bill and increases their buying potential,” says Alex Almeida, national sales manager at DuFFS shoes. “The more product they are able to bring in the store gives the brand higher recognition, and hopefully will translate to a higher amount in sales.”

A downside to terms is the possibility of overbuying and failing to sell the product before the terms are due. Pay close attention to when terms are due so you don’t find yourself having to write checks when sales are slow; minimize extra expenses when you have poor cash flow, such as the beginning of the month when rent is due. Protect your terms by always paying on-time and buying only as much as you believe you can sell. When you keep these things in mind, terms can be a great tool to help build your business.

If you are not able to get terms directly from a company, paying with a credit card gives you automatic 30-day terms. The trick to this game, however, is tt you must pay the balance in full when the statement is due. Any balance will be subject to finance charges, which can run twenty percent or more. Not paying the full balance will completely defeat the purpose of using the card, and will definitely reduce your profit margins.

An added benefit to using a credit card to pay for orders are cash-back bonuses or frequent-flyer miles offered by some companies. Using these cards regularly, you can accumulate money and miles to help pay for airfare and trips to trade shows, where you can take advantage of show discounts.

Consolidating orders through an independent skateboard distributor can also save you overall shipping costs. While you may order directly from companies most of the time, consider using an independent distributor for fill-in orders from multiple brands. This will reduce your total shipments, and allow you to be adequately stocked at all times. “Our variety allows retailers to buy a variety of products and sometimes still take advantage of the quantity discounts they are accustomed to getting by buying direct,” says Reggie Barnes, owner of Eastern Skate Supply.

One more way to watch your bottom line is to know your competitors’ prices, and price your merchandise accordingly. There may be times when your prices are much lower, and you’ll be able to increase your profit margins without the risk of losing any customers. Also be aware of which products have high profit margins and which do not, and be sure to have a good mix of both to insure that your overall margins are where they need to be.

There are many ways to save money and increase your overall profit margins. Often, discounts are available that you simply need to ask for. Communicating your needs to your reps will help them help you; as your business grows and succeeds, so will theirs. “There are many different programs out there,” says Damon Richards, manager at Val Surf in North Hollywood, California. “Working closely with your reps, you will find the ones that work best for you and give you the best return.”

Watching ESPN’s X-Games is always an interesting exercise in patience. Invariably there seems to be yet another round of sky surfing that further delays the skateboarding events. That, or another interruption of around-the-cool-coffee-table conversations with a group of extreme athleteswho laugh and carry on with witful insider commentary about who said what.

This week’s field research took me into a thematic watering hole where a particular bartender actually allows some channel surfing to happen when major sporting events aren’t being televised. A Monday night without football or NBA action, and most MLB teams traveling rather than playing, seemed an ideal moment for skateboarding to step forward into the telecast limelight, or so I figured. Logic and reasoning, however, do not always make for sensible understanding of anything, let alone television programming.

This year’s Monday night X-Games vert skateboarding broadcast began with a twenty-second tease that included a reference to Tony Hawk’s legendary run at last year’s event. Was it the greatest contest run ever? Was it? Who knows? Certainly not the other customers in the sports bar who happened to notice the highlights only after I brought attention to them with a loud, “Whoa, how does he do that?!” There was an almost audible murmur of “who knows” from the small group of fellow customers¿is this why sports-bar owners love Monday Night Football. There were very few people in the place.

One guy did mutter something like, “I don’t know how they do it, man. When I skated we didn’t do any of that flippy shit. These guys defy gravity, man.”

“Ah, yes,” I thought, “the gravity of the situation is nearly upon us!” As the skateboarding broadcast continued, with several more interruptions from the sky-surfing toothpick-through-the-septum type flyer boys and girls, I couldn’t help but notice the indifference of the bar patrons. They just weren’t interested. “Wrong venue,” I thought. “These folks aren’t interested in skating, anyway.” So I ran up the street to one of our local skate shops to see if maybe they were hosting an “X-Games Night” event for customers. Nope. Store was closed. Dark.

Ran back down the street to the sports bar, and after negotiations to get the channel changed back to espn2, I was able to see Bucky Lasek, with his daughter, talking with commentator Sal Masekela about his winning runs. “Wow, Bucky won!” I said loud enough for everyone to hear.

“Bucky’s all about the babies,” claimed Sal. This was the stuff the producers live for: handsome sweaty guy holding his daughter while talking about how a dream opportunity can come true. Only in my locale, everyone was gone. Even the “defying gravity” guy had departed.

Walking out to the car I couldn’t get the “gravity” comment out of my mind. Sure, there’s the obvious association, but there’s another “gravity” thing, that had to do with a Newton’s Apple television production I worked on several years ago. I’d arranged for Tony Hawk to appear on the PBS program, which comes out of the Twin Cities affiliate in Minnesota. The show was an attempt to demonstrate the physics of skateboarding, with special emphasis on the concept of how skaters don’t defy gravity, they use it. Standing alongside the ramp was Mr. Science Guy, who explained that when skaters pump, by bending and straightening the body at certain points before and after transitions, they actually capturegravitational forces. In a sense, they create more energy (mass and acceleration), which enables the skater to go faster, higher, and further.

Which brings us to the other “gravity” thing, our next television extravaganza: NBC’sGravity Games. (I can’t help it, I’m going to say it: “Does anyone understand the gravity of this situation?”) Does the world need another extreme circus-sideshow/roadshow/peepshow event thing? It doesn’t matter what you, nor I, think. What matters is that NBC thinks “yes.” In fact, they’re so sure the world is ready for another extreme sensation that they’ve already committed millions of dollars to the first and second and third and fourth and fifth Gravity Games.

They’ve also committed buckets of dough to produce promotional trailers and advertising that will be broadcast throughout the beginning of the NFL season on NBC. This means Bob Trumpy and Dick Engberg will be talking about the “exciting … defying … sensational GRAVITY GAMES!” as producers cut away from gridiron action to skateboarding footage ( “the marquee event of these games” was how one espn2 commentator described the vert event).

It’s a clash of broadcast titans: NBC versus ABC (if you didn’t know, ABC owns ESPN¿Educational and Sports Programming Network). When will FOX and CBS get into the running and promotion and broadcasting of … Wait! What do we call these things, now? Extreme? That would imply support of the X-Games, wouldn’t it? ‘Cause the X-Games used to be called the Extreme Games, right? Gravity events? Let’s see, they’re not mainstream, so if we go with the waterway analogy, we could call them The Tributary Trials! Maybe riding barrels over waterfalls will come back as a recognized event!

There is good news in all of this. ESPN’s Chris Stiepock attended and participated in the Skateboard Industry Conference 2 in Vancouver. Stiepock was quite candid when asked about ESPN’s future plans now that the Gravity Games seem to be a reality. He admitted that ESPN is “worried,” but he also added that they know they’re succeeding if another network is going to compete with them. He also pointed out that they’ll have to respond; ESPN will have to get better if they want to continue to succeed.

During the panel discussion Stiepock was part of, Chris Miller pointed out that ESPN was already making significant changes to their broadcasts. One noticeable change was the Jean-Claude patrons. They just weren’t interested. “Wrong venue,” I thought. “These folks aren’t interested in skating, anyway.” So I ran up the street to one of our local skate shops to see if maybe they were hosting an “X-Games Night” event for customers. Nope. Store was closed. Dark.

Ran back down the street to the sports bar, and after negotiations to get the channel changed back to espn2, I was able to see Bucky Lasek, with his daughter, talking with commentator Sal Masekela about his winning runs. “Wow, Bucky won!” I said loud enough for everyone to hear.

“Bucky’s all about the babies,” claimed Sal. This was the stuff the producers live for: handsome sweaty guy holding his daughter while talking about how a dream opportunity can come true. Only in my locale, everyone was gone. Even the “defying gravity” guy had departed.

Walking out to the car I couldn’t get the “gravity” comment out of my mind. Sure, there’s the obvious association, but there’s another “gravity” thing, that had to do with a Newton’s Apple television production I worked on several years ago. I’d arranged for Tony Hawk to appear on the PBS program, which comes out of the Twin Cities affiliate in Minnesota. The show was an attempt to demonstrate the physics of skateboarding, with special emphasis on the concept of how skaters don’t defy gravity, they use it. Standing alongside the ramp was Mr. Science Guy, who explained that when skaters pump, by bending and straightening the body at certain points before and after transitions, they actually capturegravitational forces. In a sense, they create more energy (mass and acceleration), which enables the skater to go faster, higher, and further.

Which brings us to the other “gravity” thing, our next television extravaganza: NBC’sGravity Games. (I can’t help it, I’m going to say it: “Does anyone understand the gravity of this situation?”) Does the world need another extreme circus-sideshow/roadshow/peepshow event thing? It doesn’t matter what you, nor I, think. What matters is that NBC thinks “yes.” In fact, they’re so sure the world is ready for another extreme sensation that they’ve already committed millions of dollars to the first and second and third and fourth and fifth Gravity Games.

They’ve also committed buckets of dough to produce promotional trailers and advertising that will be broadcast throughout the beginning of the NFL season on NBC. This means Bob Trumpy and Dick Engberg will be talking about the “exciting … defying … sensational GRAVITY GAMES!” as producers cut away from gridiron action to skateboarding footage ( “the marquee event of these games” was how one espn2 commentator described the vert event).

It’s a clash of broadcast titans: NBC versus ABC (if you didn’t know, ABC owns ESPN¿Educational and Sports Programming Network). When will FOX and CBS get into the running and promotion and broadcasting of … Wait! What do we call these things, now? Extreme? That would imply support of the X-Games, wouldn’t it? ‘Cause the X-Games used to be called the Extreme Games, right? Gravity events? Let’s see, they’re not mainstream, so if we go with the waterway analogy, we could call them The Tributary Trials! Maybe riding barrels over waterfalls will come back as a recognized event!

There is good news in all of this. ESPN’s Chris Stiepock attended and participated in the Skateboard Industry Conference 2 in Vancouver. Stiepock was quite candid when asked about ESPN’s future plans now that the Gravity Games seem to be a reality. He admitted that ESPN is “worried,” but he also added that they know they’re succeeding if another network is going to compete with them. He also pointed out that they’ll have to respond; ESPN will have to get better if they want to continue to succeed.

During the panel discussion Stiepock was part of, Chris Miller pointed out that ESPN was already making significant changes to their broadcasts. One noticeable change was the Jean-Claude Killy billboard effect of the skaters on the telecasts¿skaters were able to wear their sponsors’ shirts and have stickers displayed on their helmets. This was an issue during the formative years of the X-Games, and is certainly significant to the skate companies to finally get some exposure for their support of the skating athletes. (The question is, how many free vacations does Tony now get from Club Med?)

Another change Stiepock pointed out was the new announcing team made up of Jason Ellis, Chris Miller, Selema Masekela, and Dave Duncan. Truly, for the first time, these latest events (X-Games) seemed to be getting closer to capturing some of the personalities of the skaters and those around them. Better is what ESPN claims to be about. They want to be better than the Gravity Games, but they’re worried that NBC will have their games on network broadcasts¿ESPN remains a cable network, and there are tens of millions of U.S. homes that do not have ESPN, but who do have good ol’ NBC playing in their living rooms.

At the conference we agreed that we should sit with ESPN and determine where to go with their future events. We also agreed that we should sit with NBC’s organizers. The “we” is skateboarding, a consensus of IASC-company representatives who want to participate, finally, in the process of directing where this style of television coverage will go. Many conference attendees indicated an interest in joining the discussion: Damon Way and Ken Block (DC Shoes), Scott Drouillard (World Industries), Frank Messman (Dwindle Distribution), Chris Miller (Planet Earth), Pierre Andre (Sole Technology), and Steve Douglas (Giant Distribution) all agreed to gather to determine our collective interests. The committee has as its responsibility the goal of improving the presentation of skateboarding through televised media.

Steve Van Doren (Vans Shoes) offered the conference room at the Vans Skatepark for committee meetings, but along with other committees now being established, this will be part of IASC’s scheduled events during the ASR Trade Expo in September.

This is what we do¿stay in touch, get involved, take part in the process, and participate in the ever-changing world of skateboarding. See you at the meeting!ude Killy billboard effect of the skaters on the telecasts¿skaters were able to wear their sponsors’ shirts and have stickers displayed on their helmets. This was an issue during the formative years of the X-Games, and is certainly significant to the skate companies to finally get some exposure for their support of the skating athletes. (The question is, how many free vacations does Tony now get from Club Med?)

Another change Stiepock pointed out was the new announcing team made up of Jason Ellis, Chris Miller, Selema Masekela, and Dave Duncan. Truly, for the first time, these latest events (X-Games) seemed to be getting closer to capturing some of the personalities of the skaters and those around them. Better is what ESPN claims to be about. They want to be better than the Gravity Games, but they’re worried that NBC will have their games on network broadcasts¿ESPN remains a cable network, and there are tens of millions of U.S. homes that do not have ESPN, but who do have good ol’ NBC playing in their living rooms.

At the conference we agreed that we should sit with ESPN and determine where to go with their future events. We also agreed that we should sit with NBC’s organizers. The “we” is skateboarding, a consensus of IASC-company representatives who want to participate, finally, in the process of directing where this style of television coverage will go. Many conference attendees indicated an interest in joining the discussion: Damon Way and Ken Block (DC Shoes), Scott Drouillard (World Industries), Frank Messman (Dwindle Distribution), Chris Miller (Planet Earth), Pierre Andre (Sole Technology), and Steve Douglas (Giant Distribution) all agreed to gather to determine our collective interests. The committee has aas its responsibility the goal of improving the presentation of skateboarding through televised media.

Steve Van Doren (Vans Shoes) offered the conference room at the Vans Skatepark for committee meetings, but along with other committees now being established, this will be part of IASC’s scheduled events during the ASR Trade Expo in September.

This is what we do¿stay in touch, get involved, take part in the process, and participate in the ever-changing world of skateboarding. See you at the meeting!

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