Kicking off a new year and decade means many new and exciting things for RAEN Optics including new features and content online. So we hope you enjoy the first of many. Our Shop of The Month feature is where we profile the best of our retailers around the country who have really put their necks out for us and helped us pioneer our young and growing brand. We begin with our neighbors and good friends at UNIV in Encinitas, CA. We sat down with Tim Swart, owner of UNIV and picked his brain about what makes his shop so good. Here is what he had to say.
Thanks for your time with this. We are happy to kick this off with UNIV and highlight all the cool stuff you are doing. First of all, your space is amazing – located right on Highway 101, basically across the street from the timeless break, Swamis – one of the best surf spots in Southern California. How’d you find such an great space and do you utilize it?
Tim: I’ve worked in a lot of generic office park locations and slept on office floors. This is the exact opposite of all that nonsense. Being able to work near the ocean is a plus and thankfully a lot of cars and people drive past our shop every day. That’s good for business!
How long has UNIV been open? Give us some history.
Tim: The store has been open since October 2006. I grew up in between New Jersey and England and have worked in action sports building brands for 17 years now. A long time ago I became interested in different types of things and wanted to establish a brand that focused on these inspirations. In the middle of surf and skate land we have designed UNIV to cater to a universally accepted customer who wants something that’s more carefully selected. It’s now three plus years later and we’re still here. We have some neat things coming down the pike, too.
We’ve seen and heard a lot about your bike collection? When did you start collecting bikes and what struck your interest?
Tim: Growing up I always had hand-me-downs or trash-picked bikes and that has always stuck with me. Junk other people ordinarily discard has always seemed so cool to me.
You also have a pretty large record collection going? Tell us…
Tim: I have too many collections (laughs). For records, it’s about 2000 LP’s and 500 45′s. I started out just buying them for funny photos on them and then it grew from there.
What are a couple lines right now that you are loving?
Tim: Ludwig, Beta Unit and Adidas are doing some really cool stuff. I am most in love with our UNIV denim right now!
Tell us a little about your custom denim line?
Tim: We opened our store in 2006 already with 5 styles of UNIV denim for men and women. Now three and a half years later it’s still going strong; we have less styles and a more standard fit. All made in LA, we think by Americans. We have been making UNIV products since before we opened. The sole reason we opened a shop was to showcase our UNIV brand. It still remains as the focal point of our business to this day.
We know RAEN is doing super well for you? What else is the person who’s buying our glasses rocking?
Tim: The customer is across the board, perhaps buying sneakers or maybe just a t-shirt. RAEN drives a wide swath through our customer base.
What RAEN frame is killing it most for your guys?
Tim: We rock with The Casbah, ha ha. It is a great frame that sells to a wide slice of our customers.
Do you like the exclusivity of having certain brands? What should a line know, if they were hoping to get in your store?
The exclusivity is it. A new line wanting to get in here should recognize who our customer is here and how they can help us hit the customer with something they would buy.
Best thing that’s happened to you all week – store or personal?
Tim: The best thing is waking up and seeing my kids’ smiling faces.
Tell us the best lunch spot close by, so readers know where to go eat right and show off their new gear after they shop at your store?
Tim: People tend to like Swamis Cafe for its California-ness… and the Encinitas Ale House (across the street on the 101) is tremendous.
Musical artist, or song, that best describes your store?
Tim: T-Rex ‘Jeepster” is always playing in my head when considering anything UNIV.
With the warmer months coming up soon… what trends are you seeing this spring/summer for men?
Tim: A return to normalcy. People are into brands again.
Anything original coming in we should know about? New lines?
Tim: There are some new small brands coming through that will catch people off-guard. Footwear is getting exciting now too and the brands are shifting. Be on the lookout for better stuff this year.
What trend are you stoked is leaving or will be gone soon?
Tim: The recession trend!
1053B SOUTH COAST HIGHWAY 101
TEL. (760) 942-UNIV