Go behind the scenes of evo Seattle, then scroll to the bottom to see their 10 year anniversary in action.
1. When did you start your business? evo officially started as an ecommerce business in 2001. In the fall of 2005, we opened our first retail store in the heart of the Fremont neighborhood just north of downtown Seattle.
2. Do you consider the location of your shop a key factor to the business’s success? Our store location places us in the right neighborhood and community for our overall business. We have activities in our store that support the art and culture of the Fremont neighborhood, and Our Timesinfinity Art Gallery (located in the store) participates in the Fremont Art Walk, a monthly event. We use that as a way to feature artists in action sports, and we’ve had a number of wakeboard and surf inspired artists represented. For example we recently featured Against the Grain, a Slingshot collaboration. We also host wakeboard and snowsport movie premieres in the shop. While the store is a tad farther away from most of the popular wakeboard lakes in the area, our will call shipping option on our website makes it a breeze to pick-up your order at the store and get knowledgeable advice from our sales staff that you cannot get on a website.
3. What product is selling best these days? Wakesurf boards have been our quickest growing category in our store the last two years. Wakeboard packages are still popular both online and in our store, and are still going strong. Board shorts, bikinis, sunglasses and sandals make up a considerable portion of our summer sales to round out a summer assortment.
4. Where do you see your shop in 5-10 years from now? As the retail landscape has changed drastically since 2008, we have adapted to the changing times through our assortment and improved operations. As a result we have had considerable year-over-year growth along the way. We see retail stores as an important part of the evo experience, so we anticipate future locations when the time and location is right.
5. Who is your average buyer? Our most frequent shoppers are between the ages of 20-40. Each category seems to have a unique age range however, and we often have entire families finding something for them in the store, regardless of age or level of expertise. I have even seen families with grandparents buying gear for themselves and their grandkids at the same time. It’s a great testament to the fact that people who love the sports will love them for a lifetime as participants as well as introducing new people to enjoy them too.
6. What is the dumbest question a customer has ever asked? Being an effective sales person takes strong listening skills, and an ability to really understand and interpret what the customer is looking for or asking, especially when it comes to product knowledge and technical information. Doing this well helps you gauge their ability level within a sport. With continued listening and asking questions our staff is then able to help each customer make an informed purchase that’s right for them. Less informed buyers typically ask questions that a seasoned veteran would find obvious and seasoned riders can know more than your most knowledgeable sales team member. We really don’t believe in “dumb questions”.
7. What is the craziest return a customer has ever tried to make? There are so many stories it is hard to pick just one. Usually the most mind-boggling are the items that have been used for multiple years and are well past the manufacturer warranty time frame. We have a fair return policy, but with any situation we balance that with really understanding the reason behind a return and handle them appropriately case-by-case while not compromising a consistent policy and practice for our staff and customers.
8. Does your store support any local athletes or have a team? We support local riders in snowsports, and as our resources allow, we are looking to expand that into other areas. We believe in the importance of supporting athletes for several reasons, and it’s an exciting and fun aspect of our brand. evo tries to align with riders who share our same core values of respect and authenticity to the sport and the community.
9. How many days a week do you ride now compared to before you owned a shop? Our Founder’s fortunate in having struck the balance of starting an incredible brand and business that he remains involved with, while still being an inspiring role model of getting out on the hill to stay connected to what got him to start the business to begin with. We work hard, and play hard, and have fun. With our busy store days lining up with when the conditions are good on the mountain we have to prioritize the business. That said, on average, the evo team gets about 20 days a year. Some of us get up to 60-80, some not so much – really depends on the role you have with the company. As for the water, Seattle is far from an ideal wakeboarding climate, but when it is nice we try and get on the boat with some of the local manufacturers like Ronix and Inland Surfer just to name a couple. We have had some pretty memorable days getting our newer staff experience behind the boat.
10. Who is your favorite wakeboarder/wakeskater and why? Bob Soven and Aaron Reed respectively. We have evo “Super Ultimate Demo Days” and during these demo’s, we try to get customers, employees, sales reps and sometimes pros all on the same boat for a day of learning and fun. During last summer’s Liquid Force Demo, Aaron graciously drove most of the day, but when he climbed on his skate, we got to see him in his element. His control and style were amazing to watch. Bob was resting due to an injury in preparation for the Northwest stop of the Malibu Pro Tour a few days later. The guys did a great job giving helpful tips to the variety of riders on board and were keeping the crew laughing all day. Everyone left stoked and those guys were nothing short of consummate professionals.
11. Every store has to deal with shoplifting. What is your most memorable experience and what is your shoplifting policy? This past fall we had a guy take off with a couple $500 jackets; he literally grabbed two and took off running. Our manager and service manager darted out after him. The ensuing chase led them in a three block length circle that ended across the street from the shop at the thief’s car. Without going into too much detail, we eventually got the jackets back, and were lucky not to get hurt.
12. Tell us one of the craziest shop stories you can remember? Fremont is an interesting place with its unique cast of characters who are attracted to it. We have an apartment building right around the corner from our store and they’ve provided some mild entertainment to say the least. Aside from that one of the best parts about our location is the annual Fremont Summer Solstice Parade. It kicks off on a side-street near us with two hundred plus barely body painted naked cyclists leading the way. They usually don’t leave much to the imagination and is always a crowd favorite. Wikipedia even has a page dedicated to chronicling the bikers’ history.
13. Does your store carry any products that make it unique to other wake shops in your area? At evo we represent a broader range of action sports products, so that alone makes us different from a core wake shop. We carry skis, snowboards, skateboards, outerwear and men’s and women’s street wear. We also carry skim boards and a few Stand-Up paddle boards. With such a wide assortment there is a little something for everyone, even those who are not board sports enthusiasts.
14. How significant is the benefit to you that your store could be featured in TransWorld WAKEBOARDING? We are extremely appreciative and humbled, and of course enthusiastic, when the industry recognizes our efforts to evolve the action sports retail landscape. Striving to have a positive impact in our industry and our local community is the core of what we do. Being in TransWorld WAKEBOARDING would be an honor and the opportunity to be featured is greatly appreciated. It inspires us to keep pushing harder and further ahead because it tells us that we must be doing something right. So that feels good!
See evo’s 10 year anniversary: