Irvine, Calif-based Sanuk is hitting Santa Monica this week with its first-ever company-owned store. The flagship shop on the Santa Monica Promenade opens Friday. Featruring a lo-fi design meant to evoke a garage, the store space is inspired in part by the space out of which Sanuk founder Jeff Kelley first started crafting shoes in 1998.
Already, some 65 shops dedicated to Sanuk products – most of them in Asia – are owned and operated by licensees. Three of them are located in the U.S., including one at Downtown Disney in Anaheim.
Jake Brandman, Sanuk’s president, said in an interview with the LA Times that he considers the store “a place to play.” The 1,000-square-foot location features a wall display crammed with a hodgepodge of yard-sale and thrift-store finds, including a guitar, a surfboard, a Buddha statue in a fish tank and a pile of videotapes such as “Pulp Fiction” and “Free Willy.”
“Consumers are looking for a diversion from all the serious brands they see in a marketplace,” Brandman said. “We’re offering them an escape to a fun, irreverent place.”
The retail strategy follows the brands acquisition in 2011 by Deckers Outdoor Corp., whose executives reportedly began brainstorming on how to leverage the larger company’s retail know-how to launch Sanuk-owned stores. Santa Monica beckoned because the area draws tourists as well as locals who fit Sanuk’s customer profile of athletes and outdoor enthusiasts. The store sits on the shopping strip next to Rip Curl and near Pac Sun and Converse – brands targeting a similar consumer.
The Santa Monica location features the largest collection of Sanuk products anywhere, executives said, along with exclusive items. Sanuk had $71.5 million in domestic sales at the end of 2012, according to Brandman. He thinks that, by the end of 2016, Sanuk could be a $200 million brand.
“This is a test kitchen for us,” Brandman said. http://www.sanuk.com