Phase II's survival based on filling unmet needs
Skateboarding store has savvy shoppers
Few people stay at the same job for 25 years anymore, let alone hold the identical position they had as a teenager. Mark Zitzer, however, is an exception - and he wouldn't have it any other way.
In 1986, the then 15-year-old high school sophomore went into business with his mother and brother, opening a skateboard shop in Milwaukee. Today, Zitzer owns two stores, the newest one being Phase II Clothing & Skateboards, located on West Bluemound Road in Brookfield.
"My brother and I grew up riding skateboards, so our mother thought having a small store built around skateboards would help us learn about business," said Zitzer, whose mother, Priscilla, along with his wife, Ingrid, handle the administrative end of the business.
His brother, Paul, a former professional skateboarder, now writes for skateboarding magazines.
While the recent economic downturn has hit his industry hard, Zitzer said, Phase II remains a key player in the local retail skateboarding scene - a feat he attributes to his businesses' specialty-shop reputation.
"We carry merchandise outside the mainstream that stores in the mall don't stock," he said of his selection that includes skateboards, longboards, shoes and clothing. "Typically, new skateboard riders will start by buying their gear from mall skateboard shops, but then when they become more serious about the sport, they'll switch to shopping at our store because they learn that we don't carry the same old stuff that the malls do. Customers really appreciate our customized accessories, repair work and on-site assembly while they wait."
Zitzer said Phase II has not contended with a sluggish economy and a swarm of competition. Still, he's confident about his stores' staying power.
"Skateboarding will never go away," he said. "It's a lifestyle, a culture, among the people who are really passionate about it - and those are our loyal customers who have stayed with us through thick and thin."
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JUST THE FACTS
BUSINESS: Phase II Clothing & Skateboards
ADDRESS: 18110 W. Bluemound Road, Brookfield
PHONE: (262) 641-9001
OWNER: Mark Zitzer
TYPE OF BUSINESS: skateboard and apparel shop
PEARLS OF WISDOM: "Treat all customers the way you would want to be treated and everybody's happy."
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