Environmentally conscious surf retailer Sitka hopped on the Vend train early on in both their business and ours. They’ve now grown from a garage surfboard shop (literally) to a haven for socially responsible boards, clothing, and gear, with a flagship store in New Zealand’s capital of Auckland — and they’ve stuck with Vend for the entire journey.
We talked to Managing Director Andrew Howson to find out more about Sitka’s mission (to “engage communities through inspiration, conservation, and the provision of purposeful goods for exploring the natural world”) and their experience with Vend. Read on for the interview.
Tell us a bit about how you got started. What’s Sitka all about?
Sitka began in 2002 with two friends shaping surfboards out of a garage. Since then, we’ve transformed our business to designing clothing and provisional goods for the outdoors, made as environmentally responsibly as possible and manufactured in either Canada, the USA, or New Zealand.
What’s your local community like?
Sitka’s community are an intelligent and inquisitive group of people who have a passion for environmental stewardship and owning quality goods designed to last for a very long time. They take time to invest in the products they buy and consciously try to consume less and less.
What brought you to Vend? How have you found it? Would you recommend Vend to retailers like yourself?
We found Vend simply on Google! I believe we were Vend’s 63rd customer ever, which we’re pretty proud of. We enjoy everything about Vend, including the people who work there and, of course, the product itself.
When we were starting out as a small entity with big, bright ideas, choosing Vend was a no-brainer. It seemed like the shining light we were looking for, and it ticked all our boxes.
We recommend it to anyone thinking about a change to a brighter retail future. We’ve even brought a few new customers to Vend over the years!
How did you find setup? What’s the specific situation in your store? Are you using an iPad, PC, or other device?
Setting up was time-consuming but straightforward. With any new software install, the software is only going to be as good as the information you put in it at the start.
We made sure we understood Vend’s full capabilities and created some great importable files, which meant we made full use of all the power Vend has on offer. We use Vend on a range of various platforms, including PCs, iPads, and even our iPhones!
Why are you passionate about what you do? What drew you to this line of work?
Inspiring people is a major driving force to my personal happiness. At Sitka, the products we create are unique and purposefully designed, and everything we make has a story behind it. Almost all of our decisions are based on environmental stewardship, encouraging others to learn about the environment, and teaching them how to become passionate about it. This in turn inspires many and puts a smile on my face.
What advice do you wish you’d known when you started?
Always have a Plan B!
Tell us about your customers.
The characters who walk through our retail doors are a never-ending source of amusement, awe, inspiration, and conversation. We make an effort to talk to everyone and anyone that comes into our place, and I can tell you now we’ve met many folks who’ve put smiles on our faces — from celebrities, local heroes, and global superstars to community icons and the oldest people in the neighbourhood. They’ve all got great yarns, and we love hearing each and every one.