Ten Shops, One Question October 2000

Okay, we know it’s dangerous to stop and relax in this industry, but go ahead¿you deserve it. You’ve had a terrific back-to-school season, and only too soon the madness begins again with holiday sales. So put your feet up for a moment and read what your peers have to say about business in their regions.

If you have any questions or comments for our ten shops, please address them to: Ten Shops, One Question, 353 Airport Road, Oceanside, California 92054; FAX: (760) 722-0653.

This issue’s question: How do you place shop orders?

Jose Luis Melendez Martinez at Lokomalik Surf Skate Shop in Cidra, Puerto Rico

“We have a lot of reps, so we have a regional trade show in a hotel¿a show for the island. Something like Orlando Surf Expo, but miniature. Some people come from say, St. Thomas. We place orders there, or I might take those home and take inventory at the shop, and then fax those orders in. It depends on the line¿like Volcom and Ezekiel are selling good.

“For some things I go through distributors. South Shore is good, but some don’t ship to Puerto Rico.

“Like right now I’ve made all my orders for the holidays¿they give me the catalogs, and I write down everything and the amounts so I can see how much I’m spending. I organize all the brand orders at the same time so I can see what I’m getting before I place the actual orders, and I’m aware of the dollar amount at the same time.

“I do a real inventory once a year because I’m always here, everything is always moving here. Sometimes I buy maybe too little for something I can reorder real quickly. No back room, nothing in the office.

“What I would change is that if companies don’t have it, let us know! Otherwise we keep waiting for something that’s not gonna come. Send a report to us of what’s out of stock. They do this with the reps, but hardly with the shops. More communication¿hey, everybody has e-mail now!”

Owner Jerry Davis at Triple A Skate ‘n’ Snow in Florence, Kentucky

“I get orders from both distributors and companies. I take a pen and pad and go through my store and see what I don’t have. Maybe I’m out of trucks or helmets¿and then I go to my desk and write the names of my distributors where I can get that stuff the cheapest. Like I can get griptape cheapest from AWH. I used to place orders every week¿now I try to hold off to every two weeks. Every week is a hassle, and shipping is so expensive. My bookkeeper says shipping was our biggest expense last year. If the order is big enough, some distributors will include free shipping. Some you have to order on the Internet to get the free shipping. And sometimes you just need to ask for it.

“Instead of taking special orders, I have my guys go in back and see if the item is already written on the sheets I’ve started for orders to different distributors. I’ve recently started being more organized this way, and then I’ll fax in the orders on Sunday. When the orders come in, I take that order sheet down and start a new one.

“I’ve noticed the prices are going up on hardgoods through the distributors. I’m sure it’s just supply and demand¿but that’s the stuff we don’t have the best markup on in the first place.”

Neal Smith at White Chocolate Experience in Hays, Kansas

“For the hardgoods, we get every other order through a distributor. The distributors can get you a lot of different brands¿and if we need something right away, we go through AWH or South Shore. That’s three or four days, where ordering direct is more like five days’ delivery.

“We prebook with clothing companies, and do those all about the same time. I just started carrying Circa shoes, and we now carry two of those, so our Osiris order will also be two shoes, where we used to order four. We spread the ordering around.

“We do inventory the first of every month. We keep some shoes in the back room, but pretty much everything is out on the floor. Mark Loebe at Boardroom of Jackson Hole in Jackson, Wyoming

“What I do is probably pretty common¿on Mondays two of us get together to look at hardgoods and see what we need. Then I log on to South Shore Distribution online skatenet.com¿if you place an order for at least 750 dollars, they don’t charge shipping. It’s a nice system they have¿you can see the stuff online, and also what’s in stock. The order’s here on Friday. Birdhouse and Blind don’t go through South Shore, so for them I have to call independently or go through a different distributor. In the office we have a board with dry-erase markers that we break up into skateboarding, snowboarding, bike, and wakeboarding sections, and we’ll make sure to note if someone marked that we need something before placing an order.

“We have to do a full store inventory at least once a year for taxes. We’ll do a visual inventory for skate stuff, like maybe once a month for T-shirts. I moved the shop a block away a year ago, and it changed my size ratio! I’m in more mainstream traffic now.

“Quick shipping¿in a perfect world, if I could get orders in three days … that’s what I want! And also a lot of summer goods are gone before I can get ‘em. I really wanted visors this year, and they’re all out.”

Jonathan D. Maland at Dusty’s Board Shop in Kennewick, Washington

“I prebook at shows, and then reorder¿about 80-percent through distributors and twenty-percent direct. We try to order at the trade shows, though.

“Inventory is mostly monitoring the best-selling products. Certain brands are likely to sell better and faster. We’ve been doing this for over seven years, so we know what sells at what time of year¿early spring is completes, summer is replacement parts, back-to-school are the new decks to show off at school.

“The problem with ordering is not knowing what’s available. Three-day shipping would also be great. Back orders are my biggest pet peeve¿that one set of wheels’ shipping might cost as much as the item when they send it out! If you have it, pick it and ship it. Don’t send me half an order and back-order the rest.”

Jim Devoto at Brave New World in Little Silver, New Jersey

“We go through Eastern Skate Supply. We do World Industries and 5boro directly. We get deals on purchasing in bulk from the distributors. Here we order as needed¿once a month, a big order. We try and keep really well stocked and keep backstock.

“Hardgoods we do eyeball inventory¿we look at the skate wall and the shelf. We know how much we should have.

“If shipping goes down, we can lower prices on everything else in the shop¿so that’d be my dream situation.”

Dylan at Tazmahal Skatepark in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

“I go through a distributor at this time. Once a week I look at sales and go through inventory at the store. It’s more like a pro shop because we’re a skatepark¿not like a large retail shop.

“Accessibility would be what I’d change if I could. Because we’re running a skatepark, a lot of the skate shop is open around us, and we’d like to have a few non-park products just to satisfy our customers, like videos, even certain decks. But because of territorial concerns, our distributor may not carry that product. I do stuff directly with companies, but then the dollar value is sometimes affected.”

Christoph Rahmann at Titus Roll Sport in Münster, Germany

“Most of our products¿like fashion, shoes, snowboards, and so on¿our product managers have two to five meetings a year with distributors to place orders. We try to split the orders on many delivery dates to keep our stock low.

“Products like skateboards and BMX are much easier for us because we can almost order just in time as needed. The problem of this way of ordering is that you only can order what the distributors have, so sometimes you have to wait a couple of weeks to get the stuff.

“If I could change anything about ordering, I would like ordering much more just in time.”

Mike Pooley at Bill’s Wheels Skate Shop in Santa Cruz, California

“I get most of my trucks from NHS¿they’re right down the street from us. We get just about everything direct. I do get my safety gear from distributors. I like to build a relationship with the reps and see who I’m talking to on the phone at the shows. If I’m on the phone with a distributor and they have some wood that I need, say a particular Element board or something, I might go through them.

“I come in Monday and Tuesday when it’s slow and call my main vendors and have them fax availabilities. I check out ahead what I’m low on. Every time I order I try to get, say, twelve Birdhouse and twelve Flip decks, so I can substitute if I know they’re out of something. And I can wait ’til I’m really low, and then call Smoothill Distribution in San Rafael, and they get it out to me one-day ship.

“We try not to carry backstock on anything other than shoes. I have a spreadsheet, and use a blue pen for inventory and red for orders. Pretty anal, huh? It sounds like a painstaking process, but that’s why we have employees!

“If I could change anything about ordering, I’d have instant inventory on the computer. But that gets so blown with exchanges and pro trade-ins!”

Sandie at Scottsdale Sidewalk Surfer in Scottsdale, Arizona

“I go through the manufacturers. We just order what we need and what we have calls for. Most of the shoes are prebooks, and I pick up what I need in between if the company happens to have it. The shoe reps come in every two or three months to show us the new shoes, and then we place orders with them.

“We do a complete inventory once a year, with many smaller inventories more often. If I could change anything about ordering, I’d wish for faster shipping. It used to be three to four days, now it’s a week to ten days. I think skate business has gotten so huge the companies just can’t keep up. We try to order well before we’re out.”ace orders. We try to split the orders on many delivery dates to keep our stock low.

“Products like skateboards and BMX are much easier for us because we can almost order just in time as needed. The problem of this way of ordering is that you only can order what the distributors have, so sometimes you have to wait a couple of weeks to get the stuff.

“If I could change anything about ordering, I would like ordering much more just in time.”

Mike Pooley at Bill’s Wheels Skate Shop in Santa Cruz, California

“I get most of my trucks from NHS¿they’re right down the street from us. We get just about everything direct. I do get my safety gear from distributors. I like to build a relationship with the reps and see who I’m talking to on the phone at the shows. If I’m on the phone with a distributor and they have some wood that I need, say a particular Element board or something, I might go through them.

“I come in Monday and Tuesday when it’s slow and call my main vendors and have them fax availabilities. I check out ahead what I’m low on. Every time I order I try to get, say, twelve Birdhouse and twelve Flip decks, so I can substitute if I know they’re out of something. And I can wait ’til I’m really low, and then call Smoothill Distribution in San Rafael, and they get it out to me one-day ship.

“We try not to carry backstock on anything other than shoes. I have a spreadsheet, and use a blue pen for inventory and red for orders. Pretty anal, huh? It sounds like a painstaking process, but that’s why we have employees!

“If I could change anything about ordering, I’d have instant inventory on the computer. But that gets so blown with exchanges and pro trade-ins!”

Sandie at Scottsdale Sidewalk Surfer in Scottsdale, Arizona

“I go through the manufacturers. We just order what we need and what we have calls for. Most of the shoes are prebooks, and I pick up what I need in between if the company happens to have it. The shoe reps come in every two or three months to show us the new shoes, and then we place orders with them.

“We do a complete inventory once a year, with many smaller inventories more often. If I could change anything about ordering, I’d wish for faster shipping. It used to be three to four days, now it’s a week to ten days. I think skate business has gotten so huge the companies just can’t keep up. We try to order well before we’re out.”

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