When a Decision Doesn’t Fly

Alki Beach-June 2015-© Terri Nakamura

Everyone has, at some point, made a regretful decision. Graphic designers love it when they can hit “Command-Z” — Undo! Unfortunately, that doesn’t always fly in real life.

Which leads me to a “tail” of woe about a switch I recently came to regret. It has to do with kites. That’s right — kites.

Monarach kite composite

My husband and I have a beach store in West Seattle, right on Alki Beach and when we opened last summer, we had a great kite supplier. There was a concern, though — they were all the way in North Carolina!

Logistically, shipping merchandise from across the country means the cost of transportation must factor into the selling price. The kites were of great quality, and in spite of the freight charge, they sold well.

But it left us wondering if there was a closer supplier.images-1

We learned one of our local vendors offered kites and they were less expensive. ALSO, they gave us free shipping, which is, in the world of retail, is AWESOME! So we thought we’d give them a shot.

But their kites turned out to be cheaply made and the lack of quality reflected poorly on us, so it was back to the launch pad.

Last month when we were in Yorktown, VA, we discovered a store very similar to ours. They carried kites from our original supplier as well as a variety of kites from an Oregon company — just one state away! The Oregon kites were more expensive, but they were well made and we thought it would be cool to support another Northwest business. So we ordered some!mn1_001639

The problem is, the Oregon kites aren’t selling. They are too expensive.

Ultimately, it was like a Goldilocks déva vu — One vendor was too cheap; one was too expensive, and our first vendor was “just right.”

We had to try the others before we realized just how good we had it. Which meant a happy ending to this tale of #SwitchersRemorse.


PS. As a member of a very cool team of influencers for Verizon Wireless, I received compensation to think of this story in my life, and to write about it 🙂

A tip from my friend, Sara F. HawkinsIf you switched away from Verizon and are regretting it, don’t worry. They’re making it easy for customers to come back. For more information, head over to your local Verizon store and tell them you have #SwitchersRemorse.

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 1.50.46 AM

A virtual tour of Alki Surf Shop:


Alki Beach photo © Terri Nakamura 2015

Porridge courtesy of Wikipedia/commons:


Alki Surf Shop: http://www.alkisurfshop.com

Terri Nakamura on Twitter: https://twitter.com/terrinakamura

Alki Surf Shop on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AlkiSurfShop

The Horsfall House on AirBNB: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1229224

More from Terri Nakamura: http://seattledesigner.blogspot.com/

29 thoughts on “When a Decision Doesn’t Fly

  1. I never think of all the work that goes into what items a good store carries! Thanks for the labors of love you put into making the Alki Surf Shop so special!


    • Bill, thanks so much for reading and commenting. I had a long discussion with them. The Oregon kite company made some kite recommendations of the most popular items with the best margins, including some lower-priced items that were competitive with our original supplier. We’ve decided to source the kites with both suppliers. I think the sky is big enough for both!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. At our store, a farm implement supply, we carry about 3 lines of mowers. Our top line holds nearly 40% of the market, even though they are the most expensive. If the quality of your product supports the price, I would keep a little inventory, to provide options. For some of us, quality is a higher priority than cost.


    • Dennis, I really appreciate your insight. Thank you for reading and commenting. We sort of came to the same conclusion with another product in our store. We originally purchased some very deluxe beach umbrellas that initially didn’t move. We added two other kinds and the expensive ones provided context and choice. Some people elected to go with the pricier version because it would last for years…others were more interested in establishing shade for the weekend, not caring if it would last beyond this season. How long have you had your store? Is the top mower a John Deere?


  3. Great story, Terri.

    I grew up in CT, and would go to Provincetown every summer to visit my friends who would work at the restaurants all season. There was an amazing kite store in town. I would love walking by and seeing all the colors and designs and excitement. I was never good at flying kites, so I didn’t buy any. It was a highlight of every summer just to experience the store. I was a broke college student, and then grad student, so I didn’t have extra money anyway.

    Also, I wanted to tell you that I am reading a book right now that mentions Alki beach! It is “74 Seaside Avenue” by Debbie Macomber. Of course I though of you and your shop right away!




    • Sally, huge thanks for this fantastic comment! We see plenty of “broke” college students, which is why it’s been important to have a mix of affordable offerings. Our mistake was in thinking that just because a product travels a greater distance, it’s going to be more expensive to sell. It simply didn’t turn out that way.

      Boy you have really piqued my curiosity now! I haven’t heard of “74 Seaside Avenue” but you can bet I’m going to check it out! Alki (pronounced ALK-eye) is such an amazing part of Seattle. Most people think of our city as downtown, the Space Needle, the Public Market and Pioneer Square. Visitors from around the world come to Alki, surprised to find a promenade and bay with tides that come in and out, and a beach community complete cottages, houses, condos, stores, restaurants and the usual cast of beach characters. I’m definitely going to check out the book! THANK YOU for telling me about it! (And I think it would be fun to read the same book you are reading!)

      Thanks again!


  4. We don’t know what we don’t know until we make a change and then we find out that all along we had something that was working. We learn by trial and error. It’s also great to see that all along you had the right kites but just didn’t quite realize it. It’s an interesting process we go through to discover what’s right and if what we are currently doing is the best thing possible. Great story, with many lessons you could derive from it. Glad it all worked out in the end and that your purchase decisions were validated.



    • John, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. It reminds me of when I hear a story about someone who falls in love with a person they’ve known for a long time, but just didn’t realize it was the right choice 🙂 This assignment was a good mental exercise for me, and I’m grateful you offered such a thoughtful reply. Thanks again!


  5. Too bad that you are stuck with the more expensive and less popular kites in your inventory. I have had to cut losses in the past in business. It is better to do it sooner than later. I am sure your first supplier will be glad to have you back.


    • Pamela, thanks. I think there is room for more than one supplier in this category, so we’re going to split the orders between two suppliers. What kind of business do you have? And thanks again for the comment!


  6. So I was in a pinch for a substitute activity for teacher in service day and was heading down to Alki to ride the cool bikes. No bikes and I was like hmmmm. A car full of kids what to do?

    I’m so glad I found this blog because I figured kites and happened upon this in a search.

    We had the coolest experience! Your husband was super gracious. He helped us put the kite together and was so incredibly friendly. Lollipops for the kids and a proper mahalo with the shell to welcome us to the store and send us off with our kites!

    Thank you for all the thoughtful details that you and your husband put together for us to have such a fun and warm experience at your surf store. It was so cool and we have happy 11 and 8 year olds with our send off!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gosh, Kim! Thanks so much for visiting Alki Surf Shop today! Kahuna said it was great to meet you.

      It’s kind of amazing this blog post came up in organic search. I’m blown away and grateful you took the time to check it out.

      Mahalo to you and the kids! We hope you’re enjoying this INSANELY beautiful Seattle day!

      Please come back and visit when you’re back in the neighborhood. With any luck, it’ll be my turn to meet you!


      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s