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What is zumiez?

July 12, 2005

Zumiez (pronounced zoomies) is one of the hottest teen retail concepts around. It started in Seattle in 1978 and now operates 146 stores across 18 states. Sales for fiscal year 2005 reached $153 million. Flush with capital from an IPO early in the year, Zumiez looks set to expand its concept nationwide. The company plans to open 35 new stores this year.

The unique point of difference for the brand is that it doesn’t feel like a chain, instead, it takes the vibe of an independent skate store and brings that to the mall.

A critical component here is staffing. The company prides itself in hiring. They tend to hire kids who are passionate about the culture and its products. To maintain moral and provide an incentive, Zumiez holds a two day party in a mountain resort every year for employees who sell over $100k of product. This tradition has been going since 1986 and last year 300 of the 2000 company’s employees attended the event.

One of the key major marketing initiatives for the company is the Zumiez Couch tour. This event tours malls and pairs up skate teams and bands. It lets the local consumer experience the latest in boarding culture first hand.

A key reason for Zumiez’s success lies in its passion for the culture. Many brand suppliers could easily have turned off the retailer because of its mass-market presence. However, with a smart approach to hiring and store design, brands have embraced the retailer’s concept.

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