Catching a wave of popularity

Rory and Pam Stevenson spent years on the road selling sports gear and sunglasses to retail stores all over California.

But eventually the Silverdale natives tired of the road, and for the last 10 years they pondered opening their own shop.

Their dream became a reality when Northern Wave opened its doors two weeks ago, and the Stevensons are happy to be putting their sales experience to use in a stationary location.

“Instead of being in a car we’re in a store — and with traffic being how it is, we’ll take a store,” Rory said.

Northern Wave sells clothing, eye wear and surf, snowboarding, skateboarding and wakeboarding equipment. Specialty stores like Northern Wave thrive all over California, but haven’t sprung up as quickly in the Northwest, Rory said.

It was evident from the start there was local demand for a store like Northern Wave — the first day they displayed a sign advertising surfing supplies, people started coming in asking what brands they would carry and whether they would sell wet suits, Pam said.

“People go to Seattle to buy and come this way to surf” in La Push, Ocean Shores and Westport,” Pam said.

The store carries more than 100 skateboards, plus safety gear and skate videos. Board brands include NHO2, Birdhouse, Habitat Regional Logistics, World Industries and Enjoi.

The store’s large selection of skateboarding gear potentially could be hot sellers, since a new wooden skate park opened recently at Island Lake, joining the Rotary Gateway concrete park on Silverdale Way.

Northern Wave’s target market is people who are eight to 30 years old, but the Stevensons said all ages come through the doors.

The shop carries a wide selection of mens’ and womens’ clothing, mostly geared toward young adults. The inventory includes hooded sweatshirts, jeans, t-shirts, sweaters, coats and assorted athletic shoes. Featured brands include Roxy, Hurley, Volcom and Rusty.

There are also Clive and DaKine backpacks and several brands of snowboarding boots.

When it comes to eyewear, the store carries enough lines to compete with Sunglass Hut. Display cases are are scattered throughout the store with ski goggles, Oakleys, Spy Optics (a firm for which both Rory and Pam consulted), Maui Jim, VonZipper and many others. Prices range from $40 to more than $200.

The Stevensons have worked hard for the last two years to open the shop, but they said they had immense help from friends who own other local businesses.

The biggest challenge now is being responsive to patrons’ needs, Rory said.

“Trying to keep customers satisfied and happy — that’s an ongoing process. You can’t get complacent,” he said.

But the pair is looking forward to the challenge.

“This is the fun part,” Rory said.

Besides the owners, the store employs a manger and two part-time workers.

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