Today we’d like to introduce you to Steve Connolly.
Steve, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
This all started because I love surfing. I grew up on the east coast and would spend the summers visiting my grandparents at the beach, while eventually my family bought our own house just down the street. No one in my family surfed before but for whatever reason I was determined to do it and would beg my parents to get me a surfboard. Eventually one of my dad’s work friends took me out and gave me my first board. I’ll never forget that first session. He took me out on a longboard and told me to just ride lying down on the board to the beach to get the feel of it. Well of course as an 8-year-old, I didn’t listen and stood right up and rode that first wave all the way to the sand. I was hooked.
From there when I was 16, I came out and spent a summer living with my uncle in San Diego, which was my first real taste of California. I spent that summer working in his auto body shop and surfing every day after work. The waves were so much more consistent and better than at home that I knew as soon as I could, I would be moving back to California. Unfortunately, that took a number of years more and I didn’t make it back out here until after I graduated from college.
Once I got back out here I randomly landed in Huntington Beach. My degree is in marketing so my goal was to get a job doing that in the surf industry which is mostly based in Orange County. After getting to know some friends that had those types of jobs I realize it wasn’t what I actually wanted to do. In the meantime, I had fallen into doing electrical work to pay the bills. After about 2 years I was feeling really unsatisfied with my life and how things were going so I decide to make a drastic move. I was going to quit my job and go on a backpacking trip through Indonesia surfing all the waves that I have always dreamed about. When I told my friend Roland (other founder of Quivers) about what I was planning on doing he was all for it and asked if he could join. We went on an epic adventure for 6 months traveling all around Indonesia surfing incredible waves and really just having the time of our lives. We had so much fun that after 6 months we came home worked for another 6 months and headed right back to do it again.
The whole time that we were traveling we would constantly talk about different business ideas that would allow us to have the freedom to do what we wanted and be happy with our work. We came up with all sorts of terrible ideas but they never lead anywhere. A few months after we got back from our second trip Roland came over to my house and described to me the idea of a club that had all of the latest and greatest new surfboards and you could ride them all. His original thinking was that we both traveled with giant board bags holding 6 boards each and how awesome it would be if we could just show up places and have great boards waiting for us. I loved the idea and we got to work right away on how it would all work. Things moved really quickly in the beginning. I’m pretty sure he came over with the idea in March, April we had our store front rented, and by June we were opening our doors for business. It’s been a whirlwind of learning experiences from then until now 2 and half years later.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
A smooth road is not exactly how I would describe it. Neither myself or Roland had ever opened a business so literally everything that we did was a learning experience. Things like reconciling our bank account, where and how to advertise, taxes, what boards to have in our inventory, and everything else that goes along with running a business were all new things to us. One of the more surprising difficulties that we have run into is that more established shops have put pressure on big name suppliers not to work with us. Another reason it was difficult was that a store like ours did not exists before. There wasn’t anyone that we could look to for a blue print to go off of so we it was by trial and error along the way. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and there are tons of things that I wish we had done differently but each has been a learning experience and made us able to make better decisions moving forward.
Quivers – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Quivers is a surf shop, but definitely not your average surf shop. What we are known for is a monthly membership that allows you to ride any of the 175 boards that we have in the shop, swapping boards as often or as little as you would like. For people who are not into surfing this may not make a ton of sense so I will try to explain a little better. One of the things that I love about surfboards is just how customizable they are to each individual. There are so few products left that people buy where changing a 1/8th of an inch in the width, thickness, or rocker can completely change the feeling of the board. Unfortunately, boards are hovering up around the $800 range and there is no way to try it out before you buy. Once you buy a new board and that thing leaves the store they tend to drop about 50% of their value. What winds up happening is guys will buy a new board at a retail store, take it out one time, realize it’s a little too small or one of a million other things could be wrong about it and then they go and try to sell it on craigslist for $400. With Quivers this gives you a way to try all sorts of sizes and shapes out and find exactly what works best for you. We then love to sell you either that exact board you have been riding or place a custom order for you from one of the shapers that we work with to get you the board at a discount.
The other way that Quivers is great for local surfers is that the conditions in the ocean are changing all the time and having the right equipment can really make or break the amount of enjoyment you are having. We have a bunch of guys that use Quivers like their own personal garage. They wake up in the morning, check the conditions and then swing by the shop and grab a board according to what the ocean is doing. If it’s a tiny summer day maybe they come by and grab a longboard to take their kids out or if the waves are really good they come and grab the latest performance shortboard. Quivers allows the average surfer to have access to way more boards than they ever would be if they were to just purchase boards on their own.
It’s hard to say what I am most proud of as a company. Really, I am just most proud of Roland and myself for doing something different and new in an industry that is notorious for slow change. From when we started to now the whole thing has been a struggle and learning experience. There have been countless times when we were tired and beaten but neither of us has ever suggested throwing in the towel in those hard times.
One of the more surprising things about Quivers that has grown to probably become my favorite part is the satisfaction of helping someone find the magic surfboard for themselves. We constantly get clients who are frustrated with how they are surfing because their board isn’t working for them. Both myself and Roland have extensive knowledge of how surfboards are designed and work so we are able to really guide people in the right direction. There’s nothing better than having a client come back in thanking you and telling you that they had the best surf session of their life.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I think that everyone, including myself, has a hard time defining success because it is constantly changing for you. I don’t think that people who reach their goals ever sit back and go “ahh I made it, I’m successful.” As you reach your goals you should always be setting new ones and have things that you are working towards. The bar is constantly moving forward and as you get older your wants and needs will change so I think what you want to feel successful will also change. I am a big fan of the Pareto principle or 80/20 rule. If you aren’t familiar with it I strongly suggest going and looking it up. I try to apply it to my life and business as much as possible. Pretty much if I can look at my life and say that 80% of the time I am happy, I am doing pretty well and should consider it a success.
- 1 Month Membership $99
- 24 Hour Rental $39
- Address: 1611 Alabama St., Huntington Beach, CA 92648
- Website: www.surfboardquivers.com
- Phone: 714 594 3727
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/quivers_hb/?hl=en
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/QUIVERS.HB/
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/quivers-huntington-beach
Michael Latham @ml_images