VIRGINIA BEACH — Your kiddo has taken to the water and the waves like a ghost crab to burrowing in the sand, and yet you find yourself struggling to find surf items for your grom’s size and skill level in the Southside.
Even shopping online can be daunting while you navigate the right fit and gear. Hours go by as you click on surf blogs and articles to find what’s best for your child, the endless web of information and suggestions becoming overwhelming and nerve-racking.
Gap In The Marketplace
After seeing this gap in the marketplace, Virginia Beach senior-level leader, Kimball Carr, and former pro-surfer and instructor, Seth Broudy, have come together to add their niche to the surf and skate retail industry.
This June, Grom Coast Surf & Skate, a shop dedicated to surfers ages 16 and younger, will open its doors at 31st Street and Pacific Avenue.
“We are differentiated and filling a gap from the other shops in our community,” said Carr, who has 25 years of leadership experience including 19 years with two Fortune 500 companies. “We are 95 percent kid-focused and see ourselves as an additive to a well-established surf-shop community.”
Having grown up in Virginia Beach, both Carr and Broudy have a built-in love for the beach and the ocean. The Grom Coast co-owners have known each other for more than 15 years, and over the last couple, they have fostered the growth of this idea.
“The local surf and skate industry is a tight niche, and I know the owners,” Broudy said. “By filling in this gap we aren’t competing with them, and we look forward to sending the adults in our shop their way.”
A large number of young surfers attend each year during the summers at Seth Broudy’s School of Surf camps. After a day at camp, the kids would look for the shorts, shirts, or equipment they wanted and needed to continue with the sport and would often return the next day mismatched or empty-handed.
“After camp, kids would come back with a new board, and I would have to tell them they need to return it,” Broudy said. “It just wasn’t right for them.”
Grom Coast will focus on providing advice to parents and kids to ensure they are getting the right equipment, knowing that will change as they grow physically and in skill level. All of their employees will skate and surf themselves and have a solid knowledge base and sales skills.
“Our employees will offer advice and expertise driven by Seth’s background,” Carr said.
Retail Space and Surf Camps
With more than 3,000 square feet of space, Grom Coast will have boys and girls sections, accessories, ding repair, a vast selection of surfboards and skateboards, wheels, and traction.
Grom Coast will also carry their own private label clothing with many of the advanced features found in the brand name offerings such as quick dry fabrics, SPF, and flexible inks and velcro.
“Our Grom Coast clothing will be ocean-ready, and we will carry just about every other major brand,” Carr said. “We will also offer brands that consumers have not been able to find yet that are new, groundbreaking, and geared toward the age range.”
A dedicated wall within Grom Coast will highlight local artisans items as well.
“We want to feature local artists and celebrate Virginia Beach,” Broudy said.
In addition to the retail offerings, Carr and Broudy are creating some unique “chill areas” where parents can relax and enjoy themselves while the kids shop. There may also be section that will serve as a space for physical activity.
With Broudy’s established surf camps linked to Grom Coast, patrons can also learn about and sign up for one of the summer camp offerings held at Croatan Beach.
“The camps take place within a family setting, and we have a big staff,” Broudy said. “The ratio of campers to instructors is 3 to 1.”
31st Street Virginia Beach
The location for Grom Coast was chosen due to the desire for the store to be close to north end families wanting to head south.
“We want to be the first place they hit,” Carr said. “In the 31st Street corridor we are also close to major events like the marathons, concerts, and festivals.”
The building, that has been around since the 1950s, carries a distinctive style and character while Grom Coast’s location a block from the ocean has its advantages.
“We have a plan for a rental or leasing option that others in the area aren’t doing,” Carr said. “People can park, take a board and head right out the back door.”
As with most shops in the area, there’s an off-season. To prepare for the change in temps in the Southside, Grom Coast will also carry three seasons of clothing and accessories.
“We’ll have hoodies and back-to-school items as well as thicker wetsuits, booties, and gloves,” Carr said. “The number one thing parents can’t find are booties and gloves for kids.”
After dedicating time to analyzing their business model, Carr and Broudy are confident in Grom Coast’s scalability with future plans to include more locations.
“The 2020 Olympics will have surfing for the first time,” Carr said. “We think that will give the popularity of the sport an even bigger boost.”
To learn more about Grom Coast Surf & Skate, click here.