For most east coast surf retailers, the winter months bring a quiet solitude that lets us step back, and reevaluate how we stand after a hectic summer season. Walk through traffic at the shop is minimal, and sales are slow. These months let us finally breathe again, and plan for next summer. One would think that January would be a time of relaxation for surf shops located next to the frigid Atlantic Ocean. This is true, except for one beacon of light in the middle of the month. One little get-together, that we like to call SURF EXPO.
It’s 6am on a Thursday morning. I’m yawning, having been up at 2am to make the drive from Wildwood to the Philly Airport. My boarding section is beginning to fill up for a 6:30AM flight to Orlando. If you look around, you can start to pick out who is going where on their winter vacations. Dads with floral print shirts struggle with luggage as their children with Mickey hats anticipate a fun filled week at Disney World. Other passengers, like myself, have just one carry-on. We’re looking to travel light, because we aren’t staying long. Our mission? To check out the latest and greatest surf and skate hard goods, apparel and accessories at the Orlando convention center.
Upon arrival, its clear that while talking business is all well-and-good, some people use this 3 day event as a mini vacation, leaving the cold grey skies behind for the warm sunny atmosphere of Florida. Stories of epic waves are told, laughs are shared between old friends, and a general ambiance of positively fills the convention center. My plan, once in the building, was to knock out 2 full days of hour-long appointments with each of my top apparel, sunglass, watch and footwear brands. These meetings are important for a plethora of reasons, one of which is to discuss new products for 2013. Each and every brand proudly showcases their new spin on a product, and we in turn place orders for the new hotness.
For Electric Visual, it was unveiling their new volt logo for 2013. You’ll hear more about this in the months to come. For Lost Surfboards, it was Matt Biolos’ new Lazyboy collection. These wide, stubby boards will be trickling into shops all over the US as fast as the boys in the warehouse can crank them out. Hurley was proud to announce the absorption of the Nike Surfing team, with the HUGE addition of John John Florence to their squad.
These are just a few of the many exciting new developments that are in the works for spring and summer 2013. After 2 long days in my Rainbows, Hurley shorts and a Jetty “Sandy Relief” t-shirt, I made my way back to the airport with a backpack FULL of catalogs, prebook orders, and some free swag to boot. All in all, Surf Expo is of vital importance to the action sports community, and especially to the Jersey Shore. It allows surf retailers to meet face to face with the men and women that are shaping our industry, one board short, bag or board at a time.