by Emily J. Weitz
Since Flying Point Surf & Sport opened its first store in Southampton in 1996, it has grown to become one of the largest family-owned businesses on the East End. The first Sag Harbor location opened in 2008, followed by their Bridgehampton space two summers ago, and their second Sag Harbor shop, devoted to women and kids, last year. And now, the company is preparing to move into a new building in the heart of Southampton Village
Flying Point recently purchased the 4,700 square-foot building previously owned by the Southampton Hospital Thrift Shop, and will turn the two-story space into the newest hub of the surf and sport community.
Somehow, all this growth has seemed to happen organically.
This week owner Mark Zucchero said he and his wife Shannon have grown their business since it first opened based on the growth of their market. It’s the market – the adventurous, outdoor-inspired clientele – that has exploded.
“I keep outgrowing the spaces I’m in,” he said. “I am trying to fulfill what people are looking for. This is a demand-driven business, and we grow to fit the demand.”
Flying Point started with a focus on surfing, but other outdoor sports like skateboarding and stand up paddle boarding (SUP) have become major parts of their business.
“The SUP thing has exploded,” says Zucchero, “and they [the boards] are not small. You need space for those monsters.”
Longboarding, a form of skateboarding with a longer board, is a growing culture on the East End, he added, and Flying Point has been in the thick of it.
“The skate park itself dropped off,” says Zucchero, “so we really embraced the longboard culture, which started in California. We have all the core brands, hand-shaped boards, slide gloves, wheels, and at every price point. The whole skate thing has taken on a lot of traction and we’ve really grown it as a team.”
The Flying Point Surf & Sport name and logo has gained a lot of recognition and affection, and the company plans to capitalize on the fan base it has grown. Currently, they’re working on a Flying Point longboard, which is being designed specifically for them by a board maker in Nevada. The private label has been successful in selling clothing and other fashion merchandize under its label.
“We sell our Flying Point clothes really well,” says Zucchero. “I go through and do 20 or 30 designs on t-shirts and hoodies. We have one logo, the Buddha logo, done by my friend Brian Lucky, that’s been a big hit. We’ve had to re-order them a couple of times.”
Fashion has emerged as another key aspect of the Flying Point Surf & Sport business, expanding over the years to include a number of different clothing brands, shoes and accessories that are in line with the overall philosophy of the store – a store dedicated to life lived active, and outdoors.
“My wife Shannon has grown the women’s store, and her sister Kelly has done a great job in the Sag Harbor women’s store,” says Zucchero. “We grew into more gifty things that you might not see in most hardcore surf shops. It’s more boutiquey. We’ve evolved.”
The store also features popular, but philanthropic, items like Tom Shoes, which gives a pair of shoes to a child in need every time a pair is sold.
Flying Point’s newest Southampton space aligns the many faces of Flying Point. For those hardcore boarders who are looking to see the latest in gear, the upstairs will have everything on display. They hope to have a separate entrance, labeled the “Board Room,” so people can go right upstairs to check out what Zucchero calls the “hard goods,” including skateboards, longboards, surf boards, wake boards, and SUP boards.
“Downstairs I’ll have all my soft goods,” says Zucchero. “Sunglasses, sandals, clothing, beach stuff.”
This means that the people just strolling by can pick up their accessories and other incidentals, and those who seek out a good surf shop can make the trek upstairs.
As they embark on another leg of the Flying Point journey, Zucchero takes just a moment to reflect on the successes they’ve had as a family business.
“The whole family is involved,” Zucchero says, “and at times that can be challenging, but overall it’s great. I love working with my wife. It takes a lot of attention to detail, and a lot of planning, but it’s been really successful.”
The Zuccheros plan to open their new Southampton space by Memorial Day.