Alliance: North Carolina is a beautiful state and a great place to wakeboard, but did you know it’s against the law to sing off key in North Carolina?
Overton’s: It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone when you look at the musical talent that has come out of North Carolina… James Taylor, Chris Daughtry, Roberta Flack, Ryan Adams, Charlie Daniels…even the Grand Master of Funk, George Clinton, was born in North Carolina. We love our music, and truth be told, shouldn’t bad singing be a crime everywhere? Or at least singing bad music?
A: We also heard that it’s illegal to use an elephant to plow a cotton field. What’s up with that?
O: Have you ever seen what a sick elephant can do to a cotton field? You’d wear polyester everyday. Trust me.
A: Let’s get down to it. Overton’s is no joke. You guys have some serious history. When did Overton’s first open?
O: Overton’s began in 1976 in the back of a family grocery store in Greenville, NC. An avid waterskier named Parker Overton had difficulty finding quality equipment in the area, and discovered it was easier to work directly with manufacturers to get skis rather than waiting on local sporting good shops. Unfortunately, this required him to buy several skis at a time, but word traveled fast and he soon had a loyal following showing up at his father’s grocery store to pick up skis, vests, and even place orders. He started collecting names and addresses so he could mail out his inventory monthly, and the rest, as they say, is history.
A: Most consumers might not know about Overton’s two giant retail locations. What might a customer expect when visiting one of your stores?
O: Overton’s two retail stores are located in Raleigh and Greenville, North Carolina and together total roughly 30,000 square feet. The stores are loaded with a great assortment of boards, skates, and surfers from your favorite board brands like Liquid Force, Hyperlite, CWB, Slingshot, Ronix and more. Customers can expect to receive superior service from one of our knowledgeable sales associates, most of whom have the same passion for the sport as you. Overton’s stores also stock just about everything else you’d need for your boating or fishing adventure.
A: How much of your business has shifted from catalog sales to online sales? Do people still send orders in through the mail?
O: Like most catalog retailers, Overton’s embraced the web and became a pioneer in the online marketplace, launching Overtons.com long before many of our competitors had even heard of the internet. While a significant number of our customers prefer to shop exclusively online, we have found that our catalogs still drive much of our business, and serve as an excellent marketing tool. We work hard to make sure the two mediums complement each other, rather than compete with one another, creating a win-win situation for the customer. Our catalog often directs customers to online features such as Live Chat and sizing charts, while the website will give the customer the option of contacting one of over 200 knowledgeable customer service representatives. And yes, believe it or not, folks still send orders through the mail and we happily accept them.
A: Some smaller wake shops say mail order catalogs such as Overton’s are bad for the industry, what do you say to that?
O: People tend to forget that Overton’s started as one of those small shops, and grew considerably thanks to a loyal customer base and a desire to see our industry blossom into what it is today. We have consistently demonstrated a passion for the wakeboarding industry by partnering with various organizations, sponsoring events, and supporting amateur and professional athletes who are the future of the sport. Superior and affordable products, coupled with a high profile in community events have allowed us to foster and develop a new generation of water sports enthusiasts who will one day pass down their love of the water to their children.
The local wake shop is always going to thrive, as long as they provide the right customer service and develop a trust with each person that comes through their doors. They have proximity to the water and the face-to-face bond that can trump a website or a glossy catalog, provided they care about their customer. At the end of the day, it comes down to customer service, something many places may promise, but we actually deliver, day in and day out. Overton’s has always been committed to wakeboarding and water sports on every level – beginner, intermediate, and professional. Part of that commitment is providing quality brand name and private label products that meet all enthusiasts’ needs. Over the years, it can be argued that we’ve introduced more people to the sport of wakeboarding than any other retailer in the world…so if that’s bad for the industry, then I don’t know what else to tell you.
A: Overton’s carries just about everything there is in the boating/watersports world. Is there something you guys don’t have?
O: Well, we don’t sell wakeboard boats… however, in the early 1980’s, you could purchase a fully loaded Ski Nautique right out of the pages of the Overton’s catalog with one simple phone call. Gotta miss that 80’s excess.
A: What has Overton’s done in the boating community to make a difference?
O: Pardon the bad pun, but the boating community has undoubtedly kept Overton’s floating for the past 35 years. The safety and security of that community is of the utmost importance to every employee here, and we take the responsibility of providing quality products to those folks very seriously. We work closely with Coast Guard auxiliary units all over the country to provide floatation and location devices for volunteer search and rescue groups, and have provided support for thousands of charities nationwide. We make every effort to give back to the communities where we do business.
Throughout the years, Overton’s has helped fund boating safety initiatives in several states, and has provided water sports equipment and advice to several camps and recreation departments from Florida to Alaska. Last year, Overton’s helped sponsor nearly 100 waterski and wakeboard events in the United States and abroad, including the 52nd annual Masters Waterski and Wakeboard Tournament and the King of Wake Series.
A: Where does Overton’s see themselves in the next 10 years?
O: Everything at Overton’s is done with an eye to the future. Whether its through our retail stores, website, or catalogs, in 10 years we expect to still have the same impeccable customer service and reputation that has helped us become the most trusted source for water sports in the world. Our continued investments in technology, facilities, and employees have positioned us very nicely for the next 10 years, and beyond.
A: We’ve heard mail order catalog wars can get pretty gruesome… care to share any grizzly details?
O: “War” is probably a strong term to use. More like “friendly fire.” When you step outside and look at it, we are all competing in a relatively small, niche industry for the same vendors and customers. The struggling economy has in some ways helped make the entire industry more focused on the customer’s needs. It has spawned changes that have greatly benefited the consumer; better quality products, better discounts, quicker shipping. When it comes to price, there’s only so much a retailer can do. This means we turn the focus back to servicing the customer, which ultimately benefits both the retailer and the consumer alike.
111 Red Banks Rd.
Greenville, NC 27834
3062 Wake Forest Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27609