Industry Profile: evo buyer Gorio Bustamante
15 Jul, 2008
Industry Profile: evo buyer Gorio Bustamante
Photo Courtesy of Gorio and evo
Shay: So tell us about yourself?
Gorio: I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. I have also lived in California, Ecuador, Mexico and London but always had a home base here in Seattle. I work at evo as the buyer. I really like being outside, not working at a desk. I really like baked goods (Oatmeal Raisin cookies, cinnamon rolls, berry pies). I have a theory that nobody likes coffee, they just get used to it. I love everything and I hate everyone (Shay laughing, asked Gorio if that was really true?) No, it just sounded funny. I’m random; I have a randomly selected memory with all these bits of useless information. It’s hard to talk about myself; it’s just easy for me to talk.
Shay: What snowboard shop do you work for?
Gorio: evo, www.evogear.com
Shay: What is your job title?
Gorio: I am the evo buyer for snowboards, wakeboards, outerwear, accessories and streetwear. That’s too much stuff to do well so I’ll be narrowing my focus soon. The streetwear is a temporary thing.
Shay: Prior to Evo, what other shops have you worked at?
Gorio: Worked at Olympic Sports in Seattle for 22 years before they closed down. In the summers I worked at Windance, a windsurfing shop in Hood River, Oregon.
Shay: What was your first set up?
Gorio: My first snowboard was the K2 Dan Donnelly XTC that my brother and I got together. When we went riding, we rented a Morrow but can’t remember what model it was.
Shay: What is your current set up?
Shay: What was your first job?
Gorio: My first job was a paper boy. But when I was really little, I used to flatten cardboard at a ski shop and would work at the shop’s tent sale every year. Then I moved onto working at a flower shop; making arrangements, setting up weddings, delivering arrangements to weddings, throwing away dead clippings and flowers.
Shay: What’s a great day of snowboarding to you?
Gorio: Being able to get some sleep, so when I wake up early I don’t feel so crappy. Then I go to the bakery and get a breakfast sandwich egg & bacon all hot…eat that sucker. Get up to the mountain, put my gear on and hopefully it’s snowing with decent visibility. Being in the Northwest, if it’s okay visibility and new snow…I’m pretty stoked! Do some hiking in near-country hiking where you’re just hiking up the ridge in the ski area, getting some powder turns in, then do some tree runs and maybe after the powder’s gone, session the park. Taking it top to bottom, I like that.
Photographer Deren Fentiman
Courtesy of Exposure Photographics
Shay: Who are your influences?
Gorio: Currently, Federick Kalbermatten he’s a Burton Global Team Rider from Europe and Nicolas Muller; I like their style. For old guys: Craig Kelly, Jeff Brushie, Terje Hakosen. The person who first influenced me in snowboarding when I just started was Luke Edgar. His personal influence got me stoked on snowboarding. Luke is at Skullcandy now.
Shay: How long have you been snowboarding?
Gorio: Early 90’s/Late 80’s
Shay: Can you remember your first day on snow?
Gorio: I started skiing when I was 2 as a backpack baby. I can’t even remember what happened yesterday.
Shay: How many days do you get to ride a year?
Gorio: Usually about 5 days a week, usually a lot of part days before and after work. This year was crazy cause we had 6 months of riding. I don’t count, but about 100-150 days.
Shay: What is your role at evo as the buyer?
Gorio: The important part for me is using the products. I like to take it from beginning to end. Sometimes I work with the manufacturers on product testing and development. I’ll go to focus groups and give input and directions on where I’d like to see things. I’ll give input on the needs of customers and what needs the stores have. I do work on the sales floor at evo a tiny bit, so It lets me get a feel for what people need and want. I’ll get a feel on what the market is producing and the big picture of what is going on. I’ll basically do the shopping for the customer and pick out gear I think will work the best. I’ll work with negociating how to get the products here to the stores, when to pay for the products and how much It’ll cost. Basically picture all the merchandise out on the sales floor ready for the customers and the steps to getting it there.
Photo Courtesy of Gorio and evo
Shay: Currently what process are you involved with now?
Gorio: Right now we are going through order confirmations and dealing with shipping. Making sure what the manufacturer has in their system is what we ordered. A lot of work is double checking what was shipped is what we ordered. Then we input the products into our system so we can make SKU’s and price tags. We also make sure there’s not a hole where we need different items or different price points and seeing if we can fill that hole. We’re currently getting evo ready for next year’s winter, 08-09 products are rolling into the shop right now and we are already selling them.
Shay: Is being knowledgeable about snowboard gear important as a buyer?
Gorio: Yeah absolutely, it makes it easier for me and makes the selection for the customer better. As a company, its part of our values that I am passionate about what I do. It makes my job fun and I do a better job of it by being knowledgeable. I am pre-shopping products for the customer, they don’t have to know everything or be experienced. The customer benefits because there is less undesirable product on the sales floor. They just have to pick through piles of good products rather than good and bad products.
Shay: How often do you travel to buy for evo?
Gorio: Depends on the month, sometimes 2-3 times a month. 10 times a year would be a pretty good average.
Shay: What are the top selling brands for evo?
Shay: Who do you deal directly with?
Gorio: I work mostly with the reps in the companies, then the customers and then the sales managers who are the bosses of the reps.
Shay: How do you select what new companies to bring into the shop?
Gorio: First I’m product focused; if it’s a good product, made in a good factory. Strong graphics are an important part. There are a lot of companies out there, but what does this company bring to the picture? What do they do well and is it necessary, do they fulfill a need in the market?
Second, I look at the relationship between that company and our company…will they make a good business partner? Will the company stand behind their product if there was an issue? I look at the staying power of the company so they won’t be going out of business. The employees of that other company are a big deal.
I’ll look at their marketing department and ideas, the feel about the company and the team riders. Do they have something that people will identify with…in both image and product? If they have awful products, none of the other things matter to me.
Photo Courtesy of Gorio and evo
Shay: Do you think people will purchase awful products because of image?
Gorio: The answer is yes, but there’s not that much bad product. It’s hard for consumers to know what’s new and improved. Just because its new technology, doesn’t mean its good…but there are new technologies that are good that do help the consumer. There are some years where there is way more marketing than true technology or new benefits for the consumers. It’s more common to see products that don’t fill a need. They make something no one needs or they make something new but not improved.
Shay: What trends are you seeing?
Gorio: Snowboard boots are becoming lower volume. The advancements in the lacing system of boots, becoming a lot easier to lace up with different lacing systems (most of them).
Snowboard bindings have more cushioning. There are a lot of leaps in technology like changing the mounting systems. Binding tech is crazy, Salomon bindings with the relay system, flow redesigning their NXT bindings which kept the flow system but with new straps, baseplate and highback shape which changed the binding quite a bit. One trend is the lack of step-in’s out there…there are still some around but fewer. Ride has the contraband which has a toe strap piece that attaches to the ankle strap in a new way, that is centered around the big toe instead of the whole front of the foot. Companies are making bindings easier to get in and out of. Bindings are way more comfortable now than they used to be.
With snowboards, companies are getting more creative with the shape, trying a variety of sidecuts, the core profiles where cores at thick and thin, the widening of the stances, new materials being tested and trying different base shapes; triple base, camber vs. rocker. Currently it is becoming a big environmental stage. It’s no longer the same snowboard with different colors.
Photo Courtesy of Gorio and Spacecraft
Shay: What are your thoughts on environmentally friendly snowboard products?
Gorio: I have to give credit to Holden for their use of the language…environmentally friendlier…that’s really what’s going on here. Most of the companies are doing things to be greener and making huge improvements. We carry quite a bit of earth friendly products but it is still difficult to educate the end consumer. A large percentage of the customers do respond to the efforts they are putting out. But there’s a price; it has to be in the ballpark or the customer won’t justify buying it. That’s because earth friendly products are a small part of the market and companies don’t advertise them yet. It is up to the sales staff to tell consumers these things exist.
Environmentally friendly products do sell pretty well, most of them are a pretty good product. Some haven’t come to the market because of durability or the ability to take the wear and tear.
Companies are pushing new bounds to close the loop (if they can recycle products to make new products, you’ve closed the loop) and use less material. They are trying to get raw materials that are less poisonous and that are more energy efficient to use.
Shay: What’s the hardest part of your job?
Gorio: Missing out on sleep and getting up early in general. It either looks like I’m working all the time or not at all. Right now I’m working more than 60 hour weeks. The interesting thing about this job is it’s never ending, you don’t just leave and it’s done. Usually when I’m snowboarding, customers will come and talk to me or team riders or ski area people or reps. There’s always movie premieres, competitions, business dinners…it’s nonstop work. To people outside the industry, it looks like party and socializing. In the business world, there’s a high percentage of business being done on the golf course. In our world, there’s a lot of business being done on the hill, in bars, restaurants, premieres…as well as trade shows. When you are mowing the lawn and working on the house, that’s the only time you’re not working. It’s fun work but you are working most of the time.
Photographer Tre Dauenhauer
Photo Courtesy of Molly and evo
Shay: Whats your average day like at work?
Gorio: In the winter, I get up about 6-7am, hit the snooze button a couple times while listening to music and try to figure out how I’m going to get out of bed. I’ll grab my stuff that’s wet from the day before (still drying and hanging on heater vents), grab goggles, hat, boots, socks, and outerwear to put it in a bag. Drink water, brush my teeth,and eat a balance bar. If I’m lucky that I got that done early enough, I’ll head to the bakery for a breakfast sandwich or cinnamon roll. One is savory, one is sweet….I have a sweet tooth for sure. Then I’ll head to the hill and ride for 2-4 hours.
Then I head into work. As soon as I’m here, I’m handling a lot of situations, answering questions, sometimes resolutions with a customer or problems on the website. I’ll have messages for me from email, phone calls, and handwritten notes. I’ll prioritize and get to work, making sure to respond to all of it. During work, I’ll let my gear dry from that days riding.
Sometimes on the way in the store, you get bombarded from the door. I spend a lot of time fixing problems and issues or trying to improve on things so you don’t have issues. I spend a lot of time on selecting brands and products; figuring out what you like and don’t like. I’ll forget to eat lunch and dinner and realize It’s getting dark outside. I’ll try and finish up some last minute things before heading home to bed. I live just a few miles from work so it’s a short commute. A lot of people commute just to sit at a desk, I do a commute to get outside and see the mountains. I can’t sit for a long time so I’ll talk to customers or if someone sends me an IM, I’ll write down the answer on a piece of paper and take it over to them with the shoulder tap answer.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working at evo?
Gorio: I’ve seen pictures from the anniversary party that looks like it was memorable. Knowing the bartender is not really a good thing because I don’t remember that party. The pictures looked great though.
Shay: How is working for evo (any cool work events, work environment, job perks)?
Gorio: It’s nonstop. We have an art gallery here in the shop which hosts the Fremont Art Walk. We’ll redo the gallery for different shows…a lot of industry related but sometimes not. Gallery events, movie premieres, clinics, bands, skate competitions all going on in the store. We have a very open working environment; everyone can see everyone at their desk. There are offices throughout the store which makes it more like a family where you work together all the time. I can look over at the VP or go to the kitchen and see a customer service employee. The building seems to multiply whatever the weather is doing outside. If it’s cold outside, it’ll be super freezing in the office…same with hot weather where it’ll be hotter inside the office than outside.
Photo Courtesy of Gorio and evo
Shay: What education/experience did you have before getting the job?
Gorio: I went to UW but didn’t study anything to do with winter sports or water sports. I’ve been working retail and buying gear for a long time. I was thrown into the fire at a young age, surrounded by a lot of people that are knowledgeable or experienced who taught me. Definitely paying attention to details and being observant is key. Remaining active in the whole community makes it easier to learn.
Shay: What’s the best perk you’ve gotten from your job?
Gorio: Going to Europe 3 times in one year was pretty sweet, amongst other trips. Seeing new places, meeting new people…that’s awesome. evo is constantly changing, things are improving and the people are dynamic…so it makes it exciting to work here.
Shay: Any disadvantages of your job?
Gorio: The amount of commitment. Retail in general and the snowboard industry can be really gratifying and rewarding. But it’s not exactly the place to find your millions and it takes up most of your time.
Shay: Since you started working in shops, what’s been the best technology advance in snowboarding?
Gorio: Comfortable boots and bindings that don’t break daily. My favorite individual specific technology would be any ratcheting binding strap…the ratchets.
Shay: How often do you try out the products you sell?
Gorio: In men’s products about 70-75% of the snowboards, snowboarded in about 20% of the boots and tried the rest of them on, men’s bindings I’ve tried on 90-95% and ridden about 50% of them. I’ll try things I wouldn’t normally ride like women’s boards and beginner boards. If it’s a beginner board, I’ll take easier runs going slower and see how it turns and rides. I don’t try and take it in conditions it wasn’t designed for.
Shay: What’s the busiest time of year for you?
Gorio: February is pretty busy, from traveling and in the shop. More time away means more stuff to do in the office when I get back.
Shay: Education vs Experience…which do you think is more important?
Gorio: Definitely experience, there’s no way to get educated about the industry. There are not a lot of classes on it. Things chadnge enough that if you weren’t currently involved in the business, the info you’d be learning would be outdated by the time you get out of school to apply it in the real world.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to become a snowboard shop buyer?
Gorio: I would suggest they are already working in a store before they even considered being a shop buyer.
If they could get a chance to try it a little bit with a buyer, take a small piece off the buyers shoulder to try it from start to finish. They could order some socks. Start from looking at the socks, picking out sizes, colors, how many, pricing the socks. Then put in the order, making sure the manufacturer has the right info and the right socks you ordered. Getting the delivery into the shop and receiving it (not letting it sit in back for months). Pricing and merchandising the socks, putting the socks on the sales floor which would lead to selling the socks. All the steps beginning to end, sold & gone (hopefully doesn’t come back cause it was lame and warrantied).
A small step into it will be a good way to find out if you are interested in it. People need to know that a buying job or being a rep isn’t super glamorous…there’s definitely a lot of work involved. But it’s pretty dang fun if you like it.
Shay: Final thoughts?
Gorio: I’m pretty stoked for another big winter; there should be a lot of snow coming up next year. I’m pretty excited to get on more of next years Union bindings, try new models and going through the 2009 product line. I’m looking forward to heading to Hood for some summer riding. Definitely the new Think Thank snowboard film premiere, they are fun to watch.